You are currently viewing Flatwork February #15: Shoulder-in

Flatwork February #15: Shoulder-in

The shoulder-in is a three-track movement. The horse’s shoulder is brought to the inside while the hind leg stays on the arena edge. It is called a three-track movement, as when executed correctly, the inside hind leg and outside fore will step on the same track (creating three tracks).
You can ride the shoulder-in at the walk, trot or canter, but it is recommended (as always) to start in the walk.
Riding shoulder-ins has many benefits for your horse; it is excellent at improving straightness and suppleness, and it is also beneficial to help your horse build the ability to collect and ‘sit’ more on their hind end.
Riders can also see benefits from this exercise; riding the shoulder in can teach riders how to control the shoulder and isolate the forehand. The ability to control the shoulder, in turn, will improve turning and changing direction while maintaining balance.

How to ride a shoulder in

  • When riding the shoulder-in, your horse needs to have flexion to the inside. Start your shoulder-in after completing a 10m circle, the circle will help create the flexion you need.
  • When you leave the circle and head down the edge of the arena, you will need to give your horse a half-halt and use your inside leg at the girth while guiding your horse’s shoulders off the track by moving both your hands to the inside slightly.
  • Your outside rein will maintain the angle of your shoulder and ensure your horse does not fall through the shoulder. Your outside leg should be slightly behind the girth to keep your horse straight, so you don’t ‘lose’ the hind end. Remember, you don’t need too much angle; dressage judges look for a 30-degree angle.
In terms of your own position, your upper body must be turned towards your horse’s inside ear, and you need slightly more weight in your inside seat bone and hip.
This can sound like a lot to do at once, but like everything, it will get easier with practice.