Think about how you ride a circle in dressage:
These are the circle aids:
1.Outside rein, brings the shoulders in to start the circle, and keep the circle.
2.Inside rein and leg at girth, creates the bend in the body/neck.
3.Outside leg, keeps the haunches from flyout outward, off your circle line.
4. Turn at the waist, your shoulders follow your horse's shoulders.
There is no conscious leaning, weighting one side, etc in a circle. If you turn at the waist and follow the horse's shoulders with your shoulders, and look with your eyes where you are supposed to, your weight winds up where it needs to be.
If you are NOT using 'all your aids' to direct the horse when you circle and turn, yes, shoulder in is going to be confusing.
This is why the old time instructors always, if you said, "I don't get the aids for shoulder in", they would say, 'Then I need to wonder, are you using your aids properly to circle!!!"
Shoulder in, haunches in, renvers, these are different from leg yield. There is no body bend in leg yield.
In dressage, they say, 'all the aids, all the time'. Not because one is constantly kicking and yanking up there like a Mad Hatter, but because each rein and leg has a job to do.
In the hunters, in AQHA, I've watched for years and they do NOT use the same aids to circle or turn as in dressage. They use a 'leading rein' - when you want to turn right, put your hand out to the right like you are hitchhiking. Perhaps some teachers teach different, some riders lean in to turn too(a no no in dressage), but that is basically what the riders are doing - leading rein.
In dressage, you don't lean or 'hitchhike' to turn, and you don't ever let either hand, cross over the line of the mane. Each hand stays 'on its own side'.
In dressage, the aids to circle are 'all your aids', you use both reins, both legs, and turn YOUR shoulders to follow your horse's shoulders. The aids are like a 'channel' that direct the horse, where to put all his parts.
All the dressage aids for all the lateral work - shoulder in, haunches in, renvers - even pretty much turn on haunches, are 'exactly the same' as your circle/turning/corner aids.
You just 'tune' them a little bit to fit the situation.
In this post, the 'outside leg' and 'outside rein', are on the outside of a bend. The 'inside leg' and 'inside rein' are on the inside of the bend.
Take the letter C. The letter C has a bend. To the left of the C, is the 'outside of the bend'. To the right of the C, is the 'inside of the bend'. So you understand what is 'outside' and what is 'inside'.
Think of all the lateral work - shoulder in, haunches in, renvers - as 'the same thing as a circle'. Your aids are all doing basically the same thing as they do on a circle.
They are all the same as in, you are just 'telling your horse a position' in relation to your line of travel. The position, bending, is always the same idea, and uses the same aids.
In shoulder in, your outside rein is your best friend. It moves the shoulders. Your inside leg keeps the horse from simply floating in off the track. But you are STILL using all your aids. Those two are just your best friend. Your SHOULDERS follow the horse's shoulders, just as they would in a circle.
In haunches in, your outside LEG is your best friend. It moves the haunches. Your inside leg keeps the whole horse from simply floating in off the track. You use your reins in exactly the same way as before. Your SHOULDERS follow the horse's shoulders, that is - aimed straight ahead.
Most people, when they try to shoulder in, they think, 'PULL ON THE INSIDE REIN!', if it is not happening, they think, 'Pull MORE on the inside rein!!' And they don't use their legs, OR, they twist themselves up, stick their inside leg way back and twist their upper body all over. Most of the instruction consists of the trainer yelling, 'Sit up straight! Don't pull so much on the inside rein!' and 'Use your inside leg at the girth! Not so far back!!!'
You can do yourself a favor by circling in the corner before the long side to 'set up the bend'. Then it seems as if you are using a lot of outside rein and inside leg, as you successfully go down the long side in shoulder in. A 10 meter circle is a good size to ride in the corner, but don't let the horse slow down on the 'set up' circle.
It helps if you don't think 'I really really need to get a TON of angle! I REALLY REALLY need to get a ton of bend!' The horse feels like it's in a vise, and it can't do the work. If you just got a tiny bit of bend, a tiny bit of angle, the first time, and trotted along energetically in a good working trot, it would be fine. You can worry about more angle and bend later - much later!
'Bend' is bend of the whole body, just like a circle. 'Angle' is 'how much off the track, are the shoulders.
What is the shoulder in position? Well, if you think about it, it really is, 'the first stride of a circle' - the shoulders just start to come in off the track a TINY TINY bit, and that's all.
After a while, it gets really easy. You don't have to think so hard and you just sort of fall into the position and aids automatically.
Remember, if there were different aids for every type of lateral work, a horse could NEVER understand all that.
Last edited by slc; 02-13-2011 at 08:58 AM.