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3 Tips for Riding A Good Shoulder In

In the realm of dressage, mastering the shoulder-in is akin to learning the brushstroke for an artist—it's a foundational skill that lays the groundwork for higher-level movements and enhances the overall harmony between horse and rider. This elegant movement improves suppleness and engagement and fosters a deeper connection and communication between horse and rider. Let's explore the intricacies of riding a shoulder-in and explore three essential tips to elevate your dressage prowess.

Riding the shoulder-in

1. Maintain Correct Bend:

At the heart of the shoulder-in lies the correct bend—a delicate balance between suppleness and alignment. As you ask your horse to execute this movement, ensure they maintain a slight lateral flexion around your inside leg. This bend should flow from the tip of the nose through the body, with the inside hind leg stepping under the horse's centre of gravity. To achieve this, apply gentle pressure with your inside leg at the girth to encourage the bend while maintaining a steady outside rein contact to support the horse's shoulders and prevent overbending. Remember, the goal is to create a harmonious curve without collapsing through the inside shoulder or losing straightness in the body.

2. Control the Angle and Alignment:

Precision is paramount when controlling the angle and alignment of the shoulder-in. Aim for an angle of approximately 30 degrees, with the horse's inside foreleg crossing over in front of their outside foreleg. This diagonal movement pattern is achieved by subtly pushing the horse's ribcage off the track with your inside leg while simultaneously guiding their shoulders with your outside rein. Maintain a keen focus on the track ahead, ensuring your horse remains aligned and doesn't drift or lose balance. By controlling the angle and alignment with finesse, you'll cultivate a sense of elegance and fluidity in the movement.

3. Maintain Impulsion and Engagement:

While the shoulder-in emphasizes lateral movement, it's essential to preserve impulsion and engagement throughout the exercise. Encourage your horse to maintain forward energy and active engagement of the hindquarters, even as they execute the sideways motion. Utilize your seat and leg aids to urge the horse forward into contact, fostering a rhythmic and energetic stride. Strive for a harmonious balance between lateral flexion and forward impulsion, allowing the horse to reach under their body with their inside hind leg. This engagement not only enhances the quality of the movement but also promotes self-carriage and lightness in the forehand.

In conclusion, mastering the shoulder-in is a journey of finesse, communication, and partnership between horse and rider. By focusing on maintaining correct bend, controlling angle and alignment, and preserving impulsion and engagement, you'll unlock the full potential of this foundational dressage movement. Happy riding!

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