Dressage - Shoulder In
This is where the horse moves on three tracks with the shoulders In from the track.
Shoulder in is a useful exercise for lightening up a horses forehand as well as helping to supple the horse through their shoulders. It helps to teach the horse to listen carefully and remain attentive to the riders aids.
Riding Shoulder In
The best way to start riding shoulder in is by going along the outside track.
- It is best to start off by riding a small 10 meter circle, as this helps to achieve inside bend and have the horse moving from the riders inside leg to outside rein.
- It is from finishing off the circle that the Shoulder In begins, the rider maintains the inside bend and simply pushes with their inside leg on the girth to push the horse along the track into the outside rein and therefore keeping the horses shoulders in from the track.
- The riders inside rein should remain soft and with a light contact
- The outside rein should control the amount or degree of bend given.
- At any time the Shoulder In can finished by either straightening up the horse by pushing the shoulders straight and correcting the bend so that the horse is looking straight ahead, or by riding into a small 10 meter circle, and then either re commencing the shoulder in or riding straight away.
- Shoulder In is a demanding exercise for a horse to do, so build up your horses strength, suppleness and confidence with the angle of the Shoulder In gradually over time.
Follow On From Shoulder In
Once you become proficient at shoulder in, then you can progress to Travers and then Half pass.
Footfalls Of Shoulder In
Shoulder In is ridden on three tracks, if you are riding shoulder in on the left rein the horse will have their near side foreleg on one track, then the off fore and near hind on a track together with the off hind on a track to itself.
- Shoulder In can be ridden up the long sides of the school.
- Shoulder In up the centerline is an excellent test of accuracy.
- You can also ride a few steps off the loops of a serpentine and on a circle.
- How much you ask for and where you ask will depend on the experience of the horse and the rider.
- More experienced riders will find riding shoulder In up the centre line a challenge as there is no fence to guide the horse so the horse must be attentive to the rider.
- When you are proficient at riding up the centerline you can then progress to riding halfway up the centre line in left shoulder In and then swapping it round to riding right shoulder In for the rest of the centre line, to begin with it can be useful to ride a ten metre figure of 8 over X to change the rein and help set the horse up for the new bend and Shoulder In.
- Horse over bent to the inside and therefore not moving the shoulders at all.
- Horse tilting their head as they are riding the shoulder In is usually an indication of lack of impulsion.
- Falling back to the track too early can be an indication that the horse is either struggling to maintain the amount asked for or that the horse is not sufficiently wrapped around the riders inside leg.
- Rider faults are collapsing through the inside hip when applying the inside leg.
- Tensing up through the reins and not allowing a soft elastic feel to flow from leg to hand.
To begin with ride a few steps of Shoulder In at a time, this will build up both the horse and rider confidence and suppleness. Once both horse and rider are progressing well then Shoulder In can also be ridden up the centre line, and with or without the circle.