Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: The great, white expanse of Maine...ugh!
Haha, yeah, don't tackle travers just yet. It's more challenging than shoulder-in, and unless you have mirrors, it's impossible to know whether you're doing it right your first few times.
You can do shoulder-in at the walk and trot (rising or sitting, depending on what's easier for you). At the trot, you should maintain your rhythm and impulsion - don't slow down and try to shorten your horse's stride to make it easier!
When I'm working with young or green horses, I like to make it as easy as possible for them so that it becomes no big deal and can be pulled out of the training toolbox whenever I need to work on straightness, bend, et al.
The way I do it is to ride a ten meter circle in the corner as I come out of the short side. I make sure the horse is correctly balanced and bent, and as I come out of the circle, I maintain the aids as though I were to ride the circle again.
Then I angle my shoulders slightly more perpendicular to the arena wall, let my outside leg offer support behind in the girth in order to keep the haunches straight, and ask for bend with a slightly stronger inside seat bone and an active inside leg. It's very easy to use your inside rein to pull the front end in, but then you'll just be doing a 'neck-in.' Resist the urge. Maintain a half-halting outside rein and a soft inside rein, and push your horse down the long-side. Don't go all the way - 2 or 3 strides of good shoulder-in (or, it's less angular and easier little brother, shoulder-fore) is better than a whole long side of crap that will potentially lead to tension.
Good luck! I know I just did a crap job of explaining haha, but hopefully you can figure that out ;)
And now, the men of the Second Armored Division with their famous close-order swanning about.