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Spastic_Dove 12-03-2009 12:07 PM

Shoulders In
So last lesson I worked on, we decided to do Shoulders In. I tend to always confuse it with Haunches In, and quite clearly I have no idea what I'm doing in a dressage saddle... (very comfy though!)

So could someone how me some examples of a good shoulders in or explain what I should be trying to achieve on an old stiff horse. My instructer said we were not so much trying to get the textbook perfect shoulders in, but work on getting my horse moving out correctly. So maybe this is why watching what I find on shoulders in, what I was riding seemed to feel quite differant more towards a side pass than a forward movement if that makes sense.

Could someone explain an extremely dumbed down version of how you ask for a shoulders in?
Basically the way we were asking, was while coming around a corner to go down a long wall, my inside rein would come up bring his nose slightly in towards the center of the arena. My outisde rein and body posture, eyes, etc are pointing down the wall. My inside leg is active asking him to move forward.

I was having difficulty in this with finding a balance between him wandering off into the center of the arena because I was not blocking his forward movement with my hands (i felt hard to do with my hands in such a strange position) and being too stiff with my hands and not giving him an "open door"

anyone want to help the newb out?

MyBoyPuck 12-03-2009 04:43 PM

Shoulder-in is a great exercise for engaging the inside hind leg and greatly increases the sense of inside leg to outside rein for the horse.

My nut shell version of asking for it is this:
I sit square in the saddle in the direction I'm going. I use my outside rein at his neck and leg at the girth to bring his shoulders off the rail. My inside leg is to keep him moving forward. All my inside rein does is keep a slight inside flexion. Any more than that and I get "neck-in" instead of shoulders-in" I know I'm doing it correctly when I get just enough connection to where he softens and starts chewing on the bit. That's what works for me.

Spastic_Dove 12-03-2009 05:32 PM

Ah yes, neck in is definitly what I was getting the first few times I tried it. So..not sure if this is a valid question? But what sort of tempo/speed are you trying to get ideally while working on a shoulders in? During the lesson, I was being told to use my seat and slow him down which I did, it felt slightly akward at first as it was not the free flowing, forward type walk I have been working on. Is this just because I'm in the learning stages of it or must your horse be traveling slower to preform it? Or is it a manner of being more balanced and not strung out in a forward type walk?

I have no idea if those questions make any sense. I won't be offended if you kick me out of the dressage section forever x.x

MyBoyPuck 12-03-2009 06:35 PM

Your questions make perfect sense. I personally agree with slowing down a horse to do shoulder-in. That being said, shoulder-in can only be done from a collected walk to begin with, so if your horse is strung out, he won't be able to do it without slowing down anyway. Try this. Get your horse walking energeticly on contact. The contact should be such that when you halt, he should be chewing softly on the bit without you having to make any adjustment in rein length. Walk him on a circle or come around the short side of your ring as you were on a circle. A few strides before you get to the long side, start applying the cues for shoulder-in. It's easier to learn this way since your horse is already starting to bend in the direction you want. He probably will initially seem confused of what you're asking or get stuck. If that happens, don't throw your aids away, but do straighten him out in a controlled manner, re-circle and ask again. Maintain the contact with your reins, but keep the contact soft so he can use his body properly to do what your asking. You're basically putting a 3rd leg down between his two hind legs. It requires both strength and balance on his part, so be patient.

You said you get shoulder-in confused with hanches in. It pretty much comes down to which part you're isolating, hence the names. If it helps, shoulder-in involves the horse being relatively straight from poll to tail other than slight flexion at the poll. During haunches-in, everything stays parallel to the rail and only the haunches move in.

FYI, if your horse has a poor canter lead, shoulder lead can do wonders to strengthen the outside hind of the affected lead. It's a fabulous tool to develop any horse.

Spastic_Dove 12-03-2009 10:17 PM

I'm riding a school horse who knows loads more about dressage than I do at this point. He's a horse that likes to just kind of drag himself around the arena though so we have been working on asking him to actually lift his ribcage and work through himself. I got it going well enough at first, but right now I'm still figuring out how to ask him to move his shoulders around while going on a circle and then the shoulders in. It's more a matter of me asking correctly as I figure he knows what to do, but he's not going to put forth the effort unless I do...and that takes knowing how to ask. The way you explained it made good sense though and I'll give it another go when I ride next.

I've always taught my western horses to be able to pick up and move over their shoulder...this is just a bit differant it seems like. I can really see how it would be a really valuable tool though...hopefully the lightbulb will turn on when im in the saddle next!

MIEventer 12-03-2009 10:54 PM

Honey, I have a book that you will LOVE and should DEFINATELY get!

"101 Dressage Exercises For Horse And Rider"

I highly recommend that you get it! It has detailed diagrams of how to do the exercises they are asking, showing you how to do them and explains the purpose of them.

This book will greatly help you! I love mine :)

Spastic_Dove 12-03-2009 11:02 PM

I had the 101 Arena excercises and loved it. Good idea!

MIEventer 12-03-2009 11:37 PM

I promise you, you wont be disappointed!

gypsygirl 12-03-2009 11:48 PM

i was just reading that book in the car out to the barn today ! [no i wasnt driving my bf was] its great & so clear

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