Shoulder in?

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Shoulder in?

This is a discussion on Shoulder in? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    01-02-2010, 03:22 PM
Smile Shoulder in?

Hi I'm starting to try to teach my horse some basic dressage, and I've been seeing that shoulder in is one of the most basic exercises, was wondering hoe you do it
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    01-02-2010, 03:36 PM
Shoulder in is a movement introduced in about second level. It is useful when the horse has established rhythm, relaxation and contact and will help to develop suppleness, straightness and collection when used properly.
I would not say that shoulder in is a basic exercise, I would call it intermediate because it requires carrying power from behind and a small degree of collection. Shoulder in, and any lateral movement should not be started on a horse until the end of their 4th year because of the physical strains.
Shoulder fore however, can be useful in correcting some issues when used sparingly and correctly.

Before teaching the shoulder-in you should comfortably be able to perform this ( First level test 4) with your horse. Everything should feel "easy".
Once you have established a good leg yeild where the horse understands sideways and a good lengthening and shortening of the stride in trot where the horse understands the leg aids for forward and back, then we begin the shoulder in.
At first, we want to keep a small angle, on four tracks (called a shoulder fore) Where in a mirror on the short side you can see all four legs. The horse should be bent to the inside, the neck should stay coming straight out from the shoulders and the inside eye should be visible. The inside leg stays at the girth to encourage bending, the outside leg comes back to keep the haunches traveling in a straight line and the rider turns slightly to the inside and uses her outside knee and elbow to bring the shoulders to the inside. The horse should not lose tempo, and if he loses balance a 10-12m circle should be performed to regain balance and bend. As the horse becomes stronger the angle can be increase to a three track schooling shoulder in, where the angle is such that the outside fore blocks the inside hind when viewed from the front. And finally the shoulder in is brought to four tracks at an increased angle.
Lesson 15 - Starting Lateral Work: The Shoulder-in - Classical dressage
    01-02-2010, 04:10 PM
Thanks! So if I was wanting to supple my horse and straighten her out because she's soft on her left side, what exercises could I use to that? I thought shoulder in would help but I see it's a little more advanced than what I thought it was :)
    01-02-2010, 06:20 PM
Does your mare know any lateral movements? I'd start her by teaching her leg yield. Basically leg yield is the horse moving off your inside leg, flexed in the opposite way in which they are travelling, while crossing the hind and front legs over to get the sideways and forwards motion.
I'll try to find a video because I really couldn't be bothered typing out how to get leg yield for the 100th time!

Leg yield will help you to get a feeling of engaging the hind legs, and getting a degree of control over the shoulders and hindquarters, which will help you when it comes to teaching shoulder in.
    01-03-2010, 01:50 AM
I was thinking of shoulder fore I think! And i'm starting to work her on her lateral exercises, and she gets the jist of them so i'm working on refining them a little more. It's just she's a little resistant, bending right so I was looking for an exercise to help straighten her out since she's the first horse i've really trained lol
    01-03-2010, 01:42 PM
Leg yeild is not a lateral exercise (there is not bend) and traditionally, there is not flexion.
For getting the horse more even onto both reins, there are quite a few exercises because all horses are crooked. What you want to make sure is that you are slowly working to get her to come more strongly into the left rein while bending to the right from your right leg. The issue is not suppleness, it is that her left side is shorter nose to tail than her right side, this is what we strive to fix. Always keep her neck coming straight from her shoulders and be constantly working to get her to yeild and bend around your inside leg at the girth with a slight flexion at the poll so you can see the inside eye. From here is is benefitial to work on serpentines concentrating on rhythm and maintaining an even feel in both reins at all times. You can also do some shallow leg yields and start to teach the idea of shoulder fore to help your bending aids. Transitions are also extremely helpful and teaching her to lengthen and shorten her strides while maintaining rhythm can be useful. You basically just want to start increasing her "adjustability".

Good luck!
    01-03-2010, 07:06 PM
While leg yeild is not a lateral exercise, it does teach the horse to understand basic lateral leg cues. For me it went a long way toward letting my horse know what I was asking for via my rein and leg positions. It made teaching both shoulder-in and haunches-in relatively easy.
    01-03-2010, 08:11 PM
Anabel, although leg yield is not a lateral movement as such, I always teach it before starting lateral work such as shoulder in, for the above reason (Myboypuck)- it teaches a horse to understand basic lateral cues. Through leg yield you are able to manipulate the shoulders and hindquarters. When teaching half pass I will often set out a series of cones down the centre line and go from leg yield-half pass-leg yield in a zig zag pattern between them.
    01-03-2010, 08:40 PM
Originally Posted by Kayty    
Anabel, although leg yield is not a lateral movement as such, I always teach it before starting lateral work such as shoulder in, for the above reason (Myboypuck)- it teaches a horse to understand basic lateral cues. Through leg yield you are able to manipulate the shoulders and hindquarters. When teaching half pass I will often set out a series of cones down the centre line and go from leg yield-half pass-leg yield in a zig zag pattern between them.
Yes and those are the reasons I was suggesting teaching it before moving onto lateral exercises. Just calling it a lateral exercise is incorrect :P
You teach half pass? I teach travers :P lol. That's a great exercise for establishing a half halt in the half pass I do agree though.
A good exercise for shoulder control one the horse knows shoulder fore and leg yield is to do shoulder fore on the quarter line and then in that positioning, do a shallow leg yield.
    01-03-2010, 09:08 PM
When teaching half pass - when the horse has established travers and shoulder in. Then I'll do my zig zags from leg yield, from the leg yield I'll go travers for a few steps then ask for the shoulders to come into a half pass, only a few steps then it's back to leg yield again.

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