Counter shoulder in step by stepCounter shoulder in is a very good exercise for the suppleness of the horse:
- To perform a counter shoulder in walk your horse around the short side of the arena and as you pass the center line (C or A), picture the movement happening along the next long side in your mind. This is important, as without having a clear idea of the movement before you start, your horse will not know what your aids mean.
- As you pass the centre line, allow your outside leg at the girth to passively follow the roll of the horse's barrel in and out as he walks, (continue to do this during the counter shoulder-in and it will be a perfectly-timed leg aid).
- Before the corner, subtly change his bend to the outside, so if you are on the left rein, bend him around your right leg at the girth and ask him to bring his head a tiny bit to the outside, facing the fence as you are coming to the long side.
- Ensure your body is facing out of the arena at the same angle as you want the horse to perform the movement; otherwise you are conflicting with him and making it more difficult for him to give a good result (it helps to look between his ears).
- Allow the horse to perform the counter shoulder in, making sure your weight stays over his centre of gravity, rather than tipping one way : it is far easier for him to perform the movement if your balance is with his.
Counter shoulder in , what is it?In counter shoulder in the horse moves forwards and sideways at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees to the track, with his head bent away from the direction he is travelling and facing towards the fence or wall of the arena. It is a useful way to begin teaching lateral work from the saddle because the fence or wall of the arena helps the horse to understand the movement, and once he learns the feel, it should be quite easy to ask him to perform the normal shoulder-in. It also gives you a bit less to think about all at once.
Tips for lateral work:
- Remember that preparation is the key with lateral work and as it requires a lot of strenght and suppleness from the horse, begin by only doing a little, and gradually build up what you ask the horse to do slowly, over a period of weeks, months and maybe even years.
- Give always your horse plenty of time to understand your requests and always use the lightest aids you can, as this will help with the quality of the result and avoid both of you getting tense or frustrated.