Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good Shoulder-In Exercise

Last Sunday I was flatting alongside the owner of my new barn, and we got to talking about flat work and exercises and what-not (she has a dressage background and is bringing along a really lovely young TB gelding).  She gave me a really great shoulder-in exercise that I've been doing with Tucker and I wanted to share it with you, in case you haven't seen it before.

Tucker's problems during shoulder-in and haunches-in stem from his burning desire to over-achieve (I have no idea how I raised him this way, it's not like I sat in the front row and raised my hand my whole life or anything...).  Specifically, he wants to give me way too much angle, which then defeats the purpose because I lose the bend and the hind end engagement and we don't really do what I want the shoulder-in or haunches-in to accomplish. 

Starting in the corner of the ring, with the longside of the arena ahead of you, trot a small circle (around 10m for you dressag-y types, I suppose), and then shoulder-in coming out of the circle as you get to the rail.  Keep the shoulder in for about 5-6 steps, then straighten the horse out again and trot forward, diagonally, toward the quarter line.  You want to trot forward at the same angle that you had during the shoulder-in.  Then get your bend and ask for the shoulder in again, and repeat the exercise.  So, the path you're taking down the longside of the arena looks like this:

I didn't make this up obviously and I'm sure some of you have seen it before, but I wanted to share because I found it very effective.  While we didn't always get the shoulder-in I wanted during the first try, the second one was very, very good every time, which means we must be doing something right.  I think it's a combination of me concentrating on the angle I want because I know what direction I want to head when I go forward diagonally, and Tucker understanding the concept a little more clearly.

Hope you find this useful!  We sure did!


  1. Looks like a great exercise. I'll have to try it with Blue and Dusty. Thanks.

  2. Ooooohhh. Can't wait to try this. Do you sit or post when doing SI?

  3. I post, because I try to encourage Tucker to keep going forward during his lateral movements, since he can sometimes get a little stuck/braced.

  4. That is super cool. I will have to try it on... some horse I ride sometime this week, lol.

  5. I am so going to try this! I wonder if it will help us stay eventually as well?


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