View Full Version : Riding The Shoulders Up

Sep. 23, 2010, 09:49 AM
When the instruction is given to "Ride the shoulders up."...What is the rider techniclly being asked to do to achieve this? At what level can the horse be expected to be able to do it?

Sep. 23, 2010, 10:10 AM
:lol: I'm not laughing at you, just the description. Shoulders don't "lift" but the haunches drop. If i was asked to "ride the shoulders up" I'd half halt.
I would ask your dressage instructor for clarification

Sep. 23, 2010, 10:10 AM

To ride the shoulders up, the rider has to almost simultaneously drive the horse forward and half halt. So, obviously, the horse has to understand and be respectful of the driving aids and the half halt, and he must have the strength, too. Of course, this exercise serves to strengthen the horse, but you have to keep your expectations small and rewards big when asking the horse to lift his trunk. It's vital that the rider is well balanced and has good core strength to aid the horse.

Edited to say that I actually like the term "ride the shoulders up" because I think it gives the rider a good visualization of what needs to happen. Of course, it's the stepping under from behind that enables the horse to lift his shoulders. Another analogy I like is that of a plane taking off.

Sep. 23, 2010, 10:29 AM
"Aufrichtung" (Uplifting) is a component of collection and starts at 2nd level.
I'm not going into how it is achieved since there's literally thousands of books on that subject and I don't have time to rewrite them right now! ;)

Sep. 23, 2010, 10:31 AM
Thank you.. I have the Dressage Today that depicts the "plane analogy" in reference to the half halt(a succesful one:yes:). ...Which if I understand correctly is just what is meant by "Ride the shoulders up!" ....to a more or lesser degree depending on the horses/riders level of capability!..Thanks again!;)

Sep. 23, 2010, 10:40 AM
:lol: I'm laughing for the same reason that Petstorejunky is!

Just imagine if "Ride the haunches down":eek: or "Drop the haunches":eek: (as Petstorejunky said) was the preferred phrase! All the front to back riders would be REALLY confused, and might even be putting their horses into reverse gear! :winkgrin:

In all seriousness: the more the hind legs step under the horse, the more the front end lightens, lifts, and elevates. Ride the hind legs forward and simultaneous half halt, like the others said. The rider has to know how to half halt (super quick take, then immediate release/give = reward), and the horse needs to understand what the rider is talking about.

The "Ride the horse uphill" is a similar concept.

Extreme examples: extended trot, piaffe and passage, and canter pirouettes, where half halt/release creates lightness and rocking back on the haunches (to various degrees depending upon the movement), and elevation of the forehand.

Sep. 23, 2010, 10:46 AM
The only thing I don't like about the "ride the shoulders up" description is that I think it leads riders to try to actually lift the shoulders up with the reins. I much prefer the terms "sit on the horse's tail" (lightening the forehand), or the airplane at take-off analogy. I think they lead to a better visual of driving the hind end under.

There are many mechanics involved, including driving the hind end under, using the core and seat to lift the horse up, and lastly half-halting with the hand and then releasing to allow the horse to come up in front.

Sep. 23, 2010, 03:04 PM
I am so lucky that my 4 yo is naturally uphill and balanced :). But that aside, it is a half-halt, rebalancing to take more weight on the haunches. As a rider I always think of engaging my core, or "tummy up" as my instructor likes to say.

Sep. 23, 2010, 03:15 PM
As you move up the levels this will happen by itself :)

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:58 PM
The phrase "Ride the shoulders up." was not mine...I heard it from Natalie Lamping. I understood that it ment to give "lift" to the front end/shoulders, I was just asking what the rider needs to do to achieve it! I guess there are a lot of funny terms in dressage, ie; "Drop the shoulder" ect!:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:: lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
Thankis to all for the practial comments!;)

Sep. 24, 2010, 09:33 PM
My trainer uses the term "break his back" or "hind feet under your seat." In particular, in square halts, the hind feet need to be well under--as near to your seat as possible, she doesn't care wher the front feet are. So for a good part of this year, my horse looked like a circus pony with all four legs close together -- made for intersting departs from that type of halt. He eventually figured out his balance and halted with his front feet in balance to his hind feet under my seat.

She(my trainer) wants that concept in every gait. And we work hard everyday on it. Piaffe 1/2 steps help alot and auction gaits.
Ride the hind end not the front end or face -- loose reins (very little contact).

This particular horse is not built for dressage but I am planning on taking him as I high I as I can.

Sep. 25, 2010, 10:35 AM
The shoulders do lift up based on the thoracic sling muscles. The front legs actually do help the forehand push up. Had an interesting insight from Hilary Clayton when we were watching a "four beat" canter and the ribcage actually dropped in the thoracic sling when it should have been pushing up. The outside front leg in the canter does most of this work (so it's a good idea for it not to go to far back under the horse in each stride - my opinion)

Sep. 25, 2010, 07:16 PM
Thanks MXK, I have been watching some videos in slow mo and I thought I deffinatly saw an actual elevation of the shoulders as well as a lowering of the haunches! The degree was in conjuntion with the level of training. I my origional post, I first heard the phrase "ride the shoulders up" while a secound level horse was preforming a 2nd level test!

Sep. 26, 2010, 07:40 AM
I love the term riding the shoulders up -- even though in my mind I visualize "allow the shoulders up" I sometimes here the expression " feel the withers lift"
I am for anything that can get through to all of our minds that you have to allow and not block the front end.

Sep. 27, 2010, 08:13 AM
Wither lift and thorax up - like a big, uplifting breath, is my preferred description.

As you teach the horse to come through from behind into a soft back and a submissive connection with the hand, you begin to mobilise the shoulders and the forehand more.

Provided your half halt doesn't compress the neck - which so many we see today do - then when you release the horse forward but don't push out for more length you should get more lift.

But as said above - you could really write a book. :)