Taking Steps Towards Shoulder-In

Since our last lesson, Dino and I have been chipping away at the bits and pieces that need to come together for us to get through 2-1 next season. A lot of this is really boring, asking for a little bit more for a little bit longer ad nauseam. Trying to hold myself accountable for my own balance and position, and carefully managing the number of hard dressage days I ask Dino for in a week to prevent him from getting burnt out on the whole thing. This is especially tough now that we're in indoor season and there is no hacking out before or after hard work rides.

And in beginning to work more lateral moves into our schooling in preparation for making the shoulder-in fit for public consumption, a large, glaring hole in my training has appeared.

Dino isn't super reliably off the inside leg.

I mean, sure, we've got some semblance of sideways installed, there's a leg yield in there, he can bend, and that turn on the forehand is downright snappy, but there are many, many instances where I put my inside leg on and... nothing happens.

During a recent ride I also noticed that I am currently unable to make physical contact between my right seatbone and the saddle, which is likely a major contributor to this issue happening more often to the right. This is somewhat remedied by bareback riding, which prevents me from bracing and contorting myself, given that if I do brace and contort, I will fall off. I also love to over-use my hands, but what human doesn't? Dino's got a pretty nice shoulder-fore in there if I don't use any tack.

Sadly, this is not show ring legal.

So, what am I doing to fix it?

I have a few things in mind, the bulk of which is just tuning up the sideways aid. I put one leg and a seatbone on, Dino goes sideways. Every time. Non-negotiable. I've started working on this in-hand a bit as well, and it's definitely helping to solidify the concept.

I'd like to get him chiropracted as well, just to make sure that everything is where it should be and Dino's own body isn't blocking itself anywhere. While massage and bodywork have helped him gain appropriate muscling, I'm wondering if chiro might address his tendencies to get stuck in the base of his neck, poll, and flank.

Lastly, as always, I need to work on myself. I know that I'm not always sitting correctly, and especially on a smaller horse like Dino, this can send the balance spiraling downward pretty quickly. Besides needing to seriously hit the gym in order to survive sitting the medium trot (Lord help me), I need to be more actively aware of how evenly, or not, I'm sitting, and whether or not I'm giving consistent aids.

Hopefully, all of these actions will contribute to better lateral work eventually!


  1. Shoulder in is for some reason really hard for me conceptually, but damn does it really work miracles for collection when done correctly. In-hand work is definitely a go-to for me for solidifying laterals, since it really lets the horse work on themselves and you can see where their strengths and weaknesses are. So excited for you and Dino!

  2. Seatbones in shoulder-in are my kryptonite. I really struggle with getting my body to translate it all. I really like your approach of breaking it down and tuning up the simple "go sideways" aid.


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