Authentic Shoulder-in

No Cheating!

If you've had a look at my 'Authentic Balance Acid Test' ebook, you'll have seen that one of the exercises is about being able to manage your horse's bend and direction without relying on the outside rein (yes, this is pretty unconventional in conventional dressage practice! See the ebook for my explanation:

The ultimate test of this is probably the shoulder-in, where the outside rein is so commonly used to make up for a lack of true yielding from the inside leg, and good postural weight control from the rider

So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and show you a little clip of me riding a shoulder-in with Zouzou, with a very soft outside (and inside!) rein.

This shoulder-in is, of course, far from perfect - there are lots of things to correct in my riding and in Zouzou, but what I want to show you is the reality of riding a shoulder-in without holding the horse together and making him stick to the straight line with the outside rein.

Instead I am really addressing the degree of yielding from my inside leg that Zouzou is capable of, and in doing so improving his suppleness and postural strength far more than would be done by riding a perfect shoulder-in along the track with the help of the outside rein.

You can see that at one point he really comes against my inside leg, and we lose the line of the shoulder-in, but that's fine, I just work through it as much as I can and we continue.

Schooling in this way is much more fluid, creative and genuinely rewarding than sticking to rigid figures and predetermined parameters, because it's all about following your feel and staying in the moment with your horse.

Zouzou (coming up for 19 years old) is in a long-term rehab and re-training process after a competitive eventing career that left him with quite severe joint damage (diagnosed permanently lame). His ribcage was particularly unyielding and stiff, along with his spine and pelvis, so he's made pretty good progress so far.

Prioritising gymnastic quality over precision in the training process is a definite conscious choice we have to make, and it doesn't come easily to the ego in particular!

So I hope that in showing this less-than-perfect clip it will help some of you have more confidence in following that route in your riding, and to let go of 'keeping up appearances'!

The pages on HHT are so wide-ranging and interrelated that we strongly recommend you look at the site plan to find other subjects that may interest you.

New! Comments

Anything to say about this page? Leave your comment in the box below.
Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

New from HHT!

AudioRide is a series of exercises designed to listen to while you ride.

Audio descriptions guide you through each step of developing a balanced, dynamic connection with the horse through your position.

This truly innovative learning tool gives you a whole new way of being guided in your riding, in a calm, clear, step-by-step way.

Free Download! Introductory Exercise: Riding in the Now

Click here for full details

The Gymnastic Rider eBook

Now available exclusively from HHT!

A unique, comprehensive guide to practical rider biomechanics. This professionally produced eBook takes the rider through the process of developing their body in the specific way that brings the horse's movement into harmony and balance, without force and constraint. Click here for full details, and to download the 15-page introduction to the book for free.

Join the Happy Horse Training group on Facebook!

See and share topical info, news and photo's, and take part in lively discussions.

Click here to go to the HHT group (make sure you log into fb first) and then click on the 'join' button at the top of the page.

Join the Whole Horse Newsletter!

HHT's free monthly newsletter giving you wide-ranging and intelligent insights into holistic horsemanship.
Just enter your details below to join.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you the whole horse newsletter.

Free bonus on the riding position with all new subscriptions: Ten Top Tips To Instantly Improve Your Connection With Your Horse.

Click here to see back issues of The Whole Horse newsletter

Train Your Horse
The Holistic Way

How To Train A Horse Without Force is a unique guide to training horses through energetic connection and gymnastic training. Part 1 covers everything on the ground, from handling to the lungeing technique that develops strength, straightness and engagement. Comes with a free eBook supplement on Horse Trauma.
Click here for more details.

"As a student of Zen Buddhism for nearly three decades, I've often wondered when someone was going to write the book on Zen and the art of horsemanship, and I think that your emphasis on mindfulness and energy connection gets right at the heart of the matter."

- Prof. Teresa Lloyd, U.S.

Do You Have
A Horse Story
To Share On HHT?

So many people have been through wonderful experiences with horses, whether in training or otherwise. If you've made a change in a horse's life - or one has made a change in yours - tell us about it here.

Learn The Natural Barefoot Trim - The Simple Way

The Simple Seven-Step Natural Trim is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to a cutting-edge barefoot trim. Click here to find out more.

What people say about HHT:

"The riding instruction is outstanding, if instructors in the UK taught this way there would be a lot of happy riders and horses."

"The riding tuition exceeded my hopes and expectations by a long way; giving me an exciting new facet to horsemanship which is lighter. more subtle, more elegant and more meaningful. It is as if a new door has opened bringing more sunlight and air."

"My goodness - what a change has taken place in my riding. I think that I'm starting to sit 'into' the horse rather than on top of him. I felt my horse's movements in a way that has almost never happened before"

Click on Testimonials for more