Making Shoulder In Harder

I have a client who is confident and competent riding leg yield, shoulder in etc, so today we worked towards improving these movements and getting her to ride them independently.

When I teach shoulder in to rider or horse I usually use the corner and long side, so that the horse is supported by the fence and the rider can use the corner to set up the shoulder in.

Now today’s client finds this exercise quite straightforward and gets some consistent results, so last week I introduced the idea of riding shoulder in up the centre line.
We warmed up using shoulder in to get her eye in and then I brought them forward to walk to ride the exercise initially.

To set up the shoulder in they rode a ten metre circle in the corner of the school and as they went down the short side continued on the circle so that they were riding down the centre line in shoulder in. Basically it is a mirror image of the previous exercise.

The first problem we encountered was finding the centre line. It’s very easy to either over shoot or under shoot it whilst concentrating on riding a circle. The second problem was staying on the centre line. The rider had to use more outside leg than she was used to and ensure that the weight in her reins was even and consistent, as and alterations showed up in a wobble.

We worked on riding the shoulder in on both reins down the centre line in walk and trot. My client found trot much easier to keep straight along the centre line whilst maintaining the shoulder in.

In today’s lesson we progressed from riding shoulder in down the centre line to changing at X to the other rein of shoulder in to ultimately change the rein.
We warmed up and revised last weeks exercise. The left rein shoulder in was very correct and consistent, which is partly due to being the horses better rein and my client having a better outside contact with the right hand. On the right rein she tends to pull into shoulder in, which causes a wobble and too much bend in the head and neck. It is improving though.

So this more complicated exercise began with a circle in the corner and then shoulder in to X, or just before, where they needed to straighten and then ride a ten metre circle in the opposite direction so that they could set up for the new shoulder in.

The first part was straightforward enough, but my client needed to straighten before riding the circle at X so that they were better balanced and bending around the new inside leg.
A further problem we encountered was losing the centre line after the circle at X, so I encouraged my client to ride a couple of circles until she was in the right place. By avoiding returning to the track she soon managed this. After riding it well on both reins in trot I decided to leave it there and we finished with a variety of transitions to get her horse thinking forwards and swinging over his back more.

To continue with the shoulder in exercise I want to work towards removing the preparation circles and then incorporate shoulder in to other changes of rein, such as a Demi-volte.

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