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How to Ride & Train Shoulder In for your horse

What is Shoulder In?

As the name suggests, your horse’s shoulders will be on an inner track whilst his quarters are on an outer track. Add a touch of inside neck bend and you essentially have shoulder in! This is a collected movement but the judges will be looking for impulsion and forward going too as well as the usual rhythm, balance and flow. The angle of shoulder in is something people often get carried away with, we suggest it is better to have a little less angle but maintain all the other aspects. Too much angle will make it hard for your horse to carry out he movement correctly anyway.  When viewing shoulder in from the front, the maximum angle should not exceed four equal tracks. You will be looking for the space between the outside fore leg and the inside hind leg being no bigger than between the other legs.

How do you ride Shoulder In?

We suggest you start in walk, it’s the best pace for you and your horse to learn such exercises in before moving on to trot and canter. 

Walk through the corner and onto the long side, as you do so, turn your upper body into the angle you are looking to achieve. Imagine you are lifting a box to the inside. It is important that it is just your upper body, don’t let you hips turn as this can cause you to end up with your weight to the outside.

Add in a little extra rein aid to help encourage and guide your horse’s forehand to step in off the track and you will then need to time your inside leg aid to ask him to step forwards down the track. 

Your inside leg is kept close to the girth to help control the bend and guide your horse forward. Your outside leg can be slightly further back behind the girth so as to help regulate your horse’s hind quarter positioning. 

Your outside rein is used to determine how much neck bend is present and using a little action from your inside wrist, you can encourage inside flexion if needed.

What to look out for!

Like humans, horses have stronger and weaker sides. He is likely to be more supple on one side than the other and naturally bends his neck more one way than the other. If you find that on one rein you have a lot of neck bend to start with but without being able to get his shoulders off the track, this suggests more practise with varying types of leg-yielding is needed. Try leg-yielding straight or a small amount of flexion to the outside but only for a couple of strides.

Author: Tom Davison
Email: info@davisonequestrian.com

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