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Teaching Shoulder in To Rider

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  • Teaching Shoulder in To Rider

    I have three students who are at the stage to learn shoulder-in. Two are coming along. One is on a horse that has shown first level and gotten in the 70s and is trained to shoulder in. The other is on a very athletic gelding who never was trained to and she is in essense training him as she learns. They are both making good progress.

    The third girl can get a straight leg yield - horse responding to the leg right and staying straight. But when she tries the shoulder-in she is pulling too much on the inside rein and her horse is snubbing her inside leg. When I get on the mare, she is perfect. SO. What exercises would you try to help this girl get the feel?

    I say "let go of the inside rein" and "use more leg" ETC - but I am like - we need another exercise to take her BACK to before trying again.

  • #2
    10 meter circle, giving the inside rein forward, to get her feeling the correct bend and riding the horse inside leg to outside rein. Ask her to maintain that body position and simply add more inside leg after the horse takes a step off the rail, to get the shoulder in (actually, I'd be working on the shoulder fore with her just so she doesn't feel like she has to maintain so much bend). Every time she starts pulling, do another 10m circle.

    When she does the shoulder in, ask her to put a loop in the inside rein. It really helped me when my trainer told me to forget about my horse looking to the inside and to instead think about riding the inside hind into my outside rein. To start, my shoulder-in was a little too straight in the neck, but the horse was stepping under her center of gravity. Eventually, we started to get more bend. But don't ask for too much too soon.

    You can also do some steeper leg-yields, making sure the horse is working well off the leg so that when she does ask for the shoulder in there is less loss of impulsion. I might do a leg yield off the quarter line to B or E, then 10m circle into a shoulder in. Then you get the sideways off the leg, into the bend that you need, and combine them.

    Comment


    • #3
      It helps me if I do it from the 10 meter circle, just maintaining the same feel. The other cue that is very helpful to me is pointing my shoulders to the corner and pushing my inside leg to that same corner. I will do the 10 meter circle asking for only a couple of steps of shoulder in on the long side, then going back into the circle (so I don't have time to overbend the horse).
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm sure you'll get many wonderful, effective suggestions. This is a common problem for people learning SI, so I'm eager to see all the ideas. Good question.

        Here's one that worked for me while training a difficult mare:

        Set up the SI in the corner as if planning to change rein across the diagonal. Keep the rider's upper body & head facing "on the diagonal". Apply the inside leg on the girth and travel down the long side. She should ride the SI for only as long as it's "good". Once the position or forwardness is lost, she should ride straight out of it and try again.

        Your student might also benefit by doing "shoulder-out" (head to wall) to get the feel of it and get her mare working off the inside leg and into the outside rein without feeling the need to pull the inside rein. Using the wall helps. Inside/outside relative to the horse's desired position, not relative to the wall, of course.

        There's an exercise that one clinician calls the German Leg-Yield that helps teach a horse sensitivity to the inside leg. Similar to the Shoulder-out/head to wall. Perform the head-to-wall down the long side, ask for a turn on the forehand till the horse is faced in the opposite direction. Change the bend and perform HTW the other way. Ride another TOF, etc. Periodically ride the horse energetically forward out of the exercise. The head-to-wall parts can be done in either walk or trot, the TOFs in walk only.

        Hopefully, this will help your student understand that she doesn't need inside rein to make a shoulder-in happen and she'll understand the importance of the inside leg to outside rein in laterals.

        (I get so many WTF looks from students when starting lateral work I feel I have to over explain things!)

        Comment


        • #5
          this was definitely my hardest training challenge so far (learning/training shoulder in), as my mare as well as myself were learning it together...i honestly can't say there's any ONE thing that worked, just a lot of finagle-ing and somehow it all came together. wish i could remember anything specific my trainer told me or helped me with on this one..!

          Comment


          • #6
            All excellent suggestions!

            Another idea I use is I do it from the ground, i.e. work in hand, with the rider as a passenger. The idea is that they can feel when the horse is crossing over and stepping under correctly and they can feel when to apply the leg and not worry too much about steering ;-).

            Then they take up the reins and I stay by the horses head to "help" keep the horse on the rail. This way they can let go of the inside rein and not worry about the horse coming off the rail.

            The idea is that the rider gets the feeling of shoulder in without worrying too much of how to get it. Kind of like learning to sit the trot on the lunge. You don't have to worry about pace or steering on the lunge just focus on staying with the horse.

            The biggest mistakes I see are riders trying too hard, leaning too much on one seat bone, over doing one rein, over doing one leg, sending conflicting signals. The horse gets "system overload" and goes into "ignore" mode.
            "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo
            http://atoxcequestrian.com/
            https://www.facebook.com/groups/127749947563045/

            Comment


            • #7
              It's hard to know exactly the best advice for your students without seeing them in action, but these are things that have worked consistently for me:

              1. Have your student move both hands, as a unit, to the inside, to move the shoulders off the track. This is a lateral movement on the part of the rider. There is no pulling back and no indirect rein.

              2. Once that's done, have your student STOP DOING ANYTHING except keep the impulsion. The reminders I use are: Don't ask for more. Just relax (don't stop riding but let go of tension). Allow the forward movement. Enjoy it.

              3. Be vigilant about not letting your student overbend the neck. I say, "straighten the neck" a lot. This results in less inside rein without having them let go of the inside rein or pull on the outside rein (which is just as bad).

              4. Straighten the horse as soon as impulsion is lost. That means the second you sense a slowing down or sucking back, or the rider does. In addition to teaching timing (the straightening will happen way too late for quite some time), this reinforces your teaching on how to move the shoulders.

              5. Correct the rider's inside leg. Usually if the inside rein is used improperly, the inside leg is also used improperly. Most often you'll see the leg scrunched up, the knee raised slightly, or the heel up. Remind the rider to lengthen the inside leg. Also, make sure the hip is not collapsed and the shoulders of the rider are level.

              Of course, you need to confirm that the horse is responsive to the leg aids and isn't just performing a movement like LY because it has figured out the right answer when the rider puts some combination of aids together to ask for it.

              I think that most horses can do an adequate shoulder in with no problem. The biggest problem is that riders work way too hard at SI, get stiff and restraining in the process, and that's why it falls apart or doesn't work in the first place. If they get the basics right, it's easy to improve the horse's suppleness over time.
              The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry
              www.reflectionsonriding.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Barbie twist.....

                What clicked for me was my trainer telling me to twist like Barbie - meaning leave everything below my belly button exactly as is and only shift everything above as one single unit to the inside a little, like twisting Barbie at the waist.

                That locked it in for me, kept me moving the horse forward down the long side, kept me from using too much inside rein and kept me on the rail line all in one little phrase.

                Not saying it is as simple as all that really, but it was the image that helped me keep control of all of my pieces and stopped me from doing way too much and getting too little!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Insist that she do a 10m circle without using the inside rein. Insist, and insist again.
                  It is automatic and natural for most riders to"cheat" with the reins, and get away with it. The S/I separates the sheep from the goats, as it is only when they learn to bend the horse properly from their legs and seat, that they can proceed into true lateral work.
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by scubed View Post
                    It helps me if I do it from the 10 meter circle, just maintaining the same feel. The other cue that is very helpful to me is pointing my shoulders to the corner and pushing my inside leg to that same corner. I will do the 10 meter circle asking for only a couple of steps of shoulder in on the long side, then going back into the circle (so I don't have time to overbend the horse).
                    This too is useful.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Love the Barbie image ! So clear ! Thanks !

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Eventer13 View Post
                        10 meter circle, giving the inside rein forward, to get her feeling the correct bend and riding the horse inside leg to outside rein. Ask her to maintain that body position and simply add more inside leg after the horse takes a step off the rail, to get the shoulder in (actually, I'd be working on the shoulder fore with her just so she doesn't feel like she has to maintain so much bend). Every time she starts pulling, do another 10m circle.

                        When she does the shoulder in, ask her to put a loop in the inside rein. It really helped me when my trainer told me to forget about my horse looking to the inside and to instead think about riding the inside hind into my outside rein. To start, my shoulder-in was a little too straight in the neck, but the horse was stepping under her center of gravity. Eventually, we started to get more bend. But don't ask for too much too soon.

                        You can also do some steeper leg-yields, making sure the horse is working well off the leg so that when she does ask for the shoulder in there is less loss of impulsion. I might do a leg yield off the quarter line to B or E, then 10m circle into a shoulder in. Then you get the sideways off the leg, into the bend that you need, and combine them.
                        This is how I learned. Also found it far easier to do at the trot in the beginning than at the walk.
                        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For what it's worth, my "ah ha!" moment came years after I "learned" shoulder-in, and thought I knew what I was doing. I started with a new trainer who kept telling me similar things -- more response to inside leg, less creating bend with the reins. We worked and worked and all three of us, including the horse, were frustrated. I just didn't get what the problem was.

                          The next week my horse was lame, and she put me up on her FEI horse. A revelation in many ways, to say the least, but re the SI - she had me shoulder in a few steps, then medium trot across the diagonal. Once I got that, we did SI, medium to center line, SI, then medium to finish diagonal. The lightbulb came on -- my problem had little to do with my inside aids, and everything to do with my pathetic use of outside aids. Back on my own horse, we practised a similar exercise a couple times and there it was, a correct, balanced SI.

                          The key for me was getting the right feel and connection in the outside rein and learning to keep his outside hind more active so he didn't fall onto my outside leg. Once I got that the bend was right there. It seems pretty basic, but I'd never been made to realize it before. I remind myself every time now that I should be able to trot straight out of SI at any moment, and that helps me keep the feel.

                          Grey

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Lots of great ideas. THANKS!

                            Eyes up at the corner and the barbie thing will help one girl a lot. I think her biggest problem is that she needs to SIT UP with her eyes UP and keep her inside leg at the girth not let it drift. That horse will swing the haunches if she just touches him there a little. And I think its happening when she looks down.

                            The second girl needs me to back up a little and lunge her without her holding the inside rein. I am at a point where I cant stand nagging her all the time. She has to let go of that rein so much. Her horse balances off of it and when I ride her I have to fix that for 10 minutes to get good work.

                            The third girl has it pretty much - she just needs to breathe so she loosens up so her horse will relax.

                            The other night I thought - I think I need to explain how to use the outside leg aid again. Because if I lined a path with poles, giving the horses a path - they kept their haunches on the track. So obviously they are not using the leg aid on the outside supportively right. That track was acting like their outside supportive leg for them. The third girl didnt have the issue. Just the first two.

                            It feels very complicated learning it but when it falls into place, I find its a very comfortable, balanced exercise - its just getting there a few times and get that AH HA.

                            My WB is an overachiever and if I start to position his shoulders and start to think about supporting his haunches - he seems to self carry a shoulder in. What a good boy!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ctab View Post
                              Another idea I use is I do it from the ground, i.e. work in hand, with the rider as a passenger. The idea is that they can feel when the horse is crossing over and stepping under correctly and they can feel when to apply the leg and not worry too much about steering ;-).

                              Then they take up the reins and I stay by the horses head to "help" keep the horse on the rail. This way they can let go of the inside rein and not worry about the horse coming off the rail.
                              Great point. I like the idea of having the rider just acting as a passenger to get the feeling while someone works the horse in hand from the ground. Also, if the rider did work-in hand with the horse on the ground herself, I think she would quickly realize how important the outside rein is for any of the movements that you can do during work-in hand - even turning - and would give her a better understanding of it in the saddle.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think the term "shoulder-in" makes novice riders concentrate on the inside shoulder and they often tend to "fall in" with respect to balance. I've found telling them to consider it a "shoulder-fore" and focus on keeping the outside shoulder on the center of the outside track makes them stay balanced in their bodies and in the saddle. Also that the horse should be bent around their inside leg - moving the inside hind leg forward on the track to lift the outside shoulder forward. Hope this helps.
                                Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                                "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by LaraNSpeedy View Post
                                  Lots of great ideas. THANKS!

                                  Eyes up at the corner and the barbie thing will help one girl a lot. I think her biggest problem is that she needs to SIT UP with her eyes UP and keep her inside leg at the girth not let it drift. That horse will swing the haunches if she just touches him there a little. And I think its happening when she looks down.
                                  Try REALLY articulating what "eyes up" means. My mom started riding 28 years ago... and it wasn't until I was helping her last year that I discovered she didn't know what it meant. She'd always heard "look between your horse's ears" - but that's not actually looking up where you're going. I told her if she's looking down, that's where she'll end up, so helped her pick spots on trees, light poles, etc., to look up at. MAJOR difference in her position and helping her look up, simply because she had taken what she was originally told and kept going with it, and everyone assumed she knew what it meant.
                                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                  -meupatdoes

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ise@ssl View Post
                                    I think the term "shoulder-in" makes novice riders concentrate on the inside shoulder and they often tend to "fall in" with respect to balance. I've found telling them to consider it a "shoulder-fore" and focus on keeping the outside shoulder on the center of the outside track makes them stay balanced in their bodies and in the saddle.
                                    brilliant.
                                    Ring the bells that still can ring
                                    Forget your perfect offering
                                    There is a crack in everything
                                    That's how the light gets in.

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                                    • #19
                                      Get her to do a 10 meter circle in the corner of the short side. Tell her to push her inside HIP forward - it will make her inside leg long and allow them to bend around it and into the outside rein. Do the hip forward in both the circle and the SI.

                                      Then mark a place on the circle (use a traffic cone) where the rider changes from traversing the circle to a SI down the long side.
                                      Now in Kentucky

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        This is going to sound strange, but if you have your students do it on foot, they will get the idea very clearly of where the horse's shoulders and hind legs shouls be, and where their own shoulders, seats, and legs should be. It works!
                                        Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

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