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sandsarita 02-12-2011 10:35 PM

Shoulder's in help
I am a hunter rider, but thought I might find some help from you guys in Dressage land :) Basically, my trainer has been schooling my horse for me in lateral movements and is currently working on the shoulders in (schooling rides, she stays at home with me, not at the trainers). She feels that my mare is ready for me to continue some of the work at home with her, and has been working with me to understand the proper way to ask for the movement while on her horses.

Now, I am a fairly advanced rider, but we sometimes run into problems, such as the current one, because of some holes in my training. I grew up on the AQHA circuit, and while we did leg yields, and a variation of haunches in (but not what is asked for with dressage riders or jumpers), things like shoulders in were never done. My trainer has been explaining how to ask for this movement, but for some reason it is just not clicking in my brain. I was wondering if someone here could re-explain it for me. Sometimes, hearing it another way really helps me out. If you don't mind, kinda walk me through the proper aids again. Thanks in advance.

Chiilaa 02-12-2011 11:51 PM

I find that this article describes it really well.

The Art of Classical Riding--The Shoulder-in

I am sure our Dressage Divas (caps intended, implication of awesomeness intended =P ) can point out any flaws in the article :)

slc 02-13-2011 07:53 AM

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.

FoxyRoxy1507 02-14-2011 09:24 AM

make sure to overexaggerate ur aids in the beginning.. this helps u and the horse understand what ur asking, the better you get and understand everything the more you can refine to softer and quieter aids.

personally when i do a shoulder in i start it off a circle and make sure to weight my inside seatbone (the inside seatbone is the direction ur wanting to travel) just make sure not to lean as ur doing this when doing any lateral movement think of going forward first and then over second bc u cant do any type of lateral movement with out forwardness. make sure to only practice a couple of steps at a time and move to something else and then come back.

the article Chiilaa posted is a good one. if you still dont understand i can write out a step by step for you.

MyBoyPuck 02-14-2011 01:45 PM

Others already covered the mechanics. Just want to add, make sure your inside rein is supple and in a straight line to the bit. Any time I break the line or get a little too heavy on it, my horse gets stuck.

sandsarita 02-14-2011 09:04 PM

Thank you guys for the suggestions. The article did help me some, and I have a better idea now (I also got out some old books of mine that describe the move as well).

Now, I do have one other question. When looking at how the horse is traveling and it's bend, what is the difference between the shoulder in and haunches out. I know you are trying to get the shoulders to move over with the first and vice versa, but from my understanding you are still using your leg which encourages a movement similar to haunches out. I know there must be an obvious difference here that I am missing, but I'm just not seeing it (like if you looked at a picture of a horse going along the rail, how do you tell which one is which - does that make sense?).

slc 02-14-2011 09:41 PM

There is no such lateral movement in dressage as haunches out. When you start straightening work, that will make more sense.

But in traditional dressage, to straighten a horse, the horse's shoulders are repositioned, not the haunches. A haunches out movement would create big problems with later straightening work.

There is renvers, which people often mistake for 'haunches out'.

In renvers, the haunches are NOT moved outward in order to initiate the renvers; any kind of 'disengaging the haunches' outward, would be a serious problem.

The renvers is a shoulder in with opposite bend.

Do shoulder in, and change the bend.

Do not push the haunches out, off the track. The haunches do not change position to initiate/create/maintain a renvers.

The lateral work in dressage is, shoulder-in (or its milder but otherwise identical idea - position, position fore, shoulder fore), haunches-in, and half pass.

Most would also say that leg yield is not lateral work - as there is no bend throughout the entire body. Leg yield is a training/introductory exercise.

Sidepass and other angling/sidestepping/non-bending exercises, are found in other types of riding, not dressage.

~*~anebel~*~ 02-15-2011 01:24 PM

Actually (a mild discrepancy) in the revers versus the shoulder in, the shoulders are tracking straight ahead while they hind legs are crossing, while in a shoulder in the hinds are tracking straight and the fores are crossing.

Basically, the thing I find most important to stress in the shoulder in - is the function of the outside leg. The shoulder in is one of the first movements where the horse must learn to go forward from the outside leg, while also letting this leg guide the haunches to stay tracking straight ahead.
The rider must guide the horse to bend around the inside leg, while keeping the hind legs tracking straight forward, as if the horse were just trotting along the wall.

tinyliny 02-15-2011 02:22 PM

From FoxyRoxy "personally when i do a shoulder in i start it off a circle and make sure to weight my inside seatbone (the inside seatbone is the direction ur wanting to travel) just make sure not to lean as ur doing this when doing any lateral movement think of going forward first and then over second bc u cant do any type of lateral movement with out forwardness. make sure to only practice a couple of steps at a time and move to something else and then come back. "

If you are going down the long side with shoulders in the left (the horse's shoulders come leftward to the inside of the arena while the hind legs stay on the rail) then the inside of your horse is the LEFT seatbone.
However, this is NOT the direction you are travelling. You are literally travelling to the horse's right because he is crossing his left front over his right, toward his right. Thus, you are sitting on the inside seat bone, but it is not the direction he is travelling.

Which brings up an interesting point. In the book "Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage" Pphillipe Karl states that the ride should deifinitely and alway sit on the seatbone that it in the horse's direction of travel, and in the case of the shoulder in , this is the OUTSIDE seatbone.

this is a big contraversy for dressage riders. I have no personal opinion on the matter, but I can say that that book is fascinating! And he gives lengthy and detailed reasoning for this position.

FoxyRoxy1507 02-15-2011 02:39 PM

tinyliny you're correct, im sorry if my wording came off wrong.. i was trying to imagine it w/o a picture in front of me or anything

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