I think we can all agree that it’s essential for dressage horses to be balanced and laterally supple enough to bend and work in both directions and just as important for riders to be capable
of putting the horse’s shoulders or haunches anywhere they want to whenever they want to. Appreciating that the objectives for all the lateral movements include increased suppleness and elasticity, improved obedience and engagement as well as increased cadence and collection, then it seems logical that the shoulder out should qualify as a lateral movement because it too helps to accomplish all of these qualities. And in addition, the shoulder out ridden on a 20-meter circle provides an extra bonus – the challenge of riding counter flexion where your horse is continuously bent to the right (outside) while circling to the left and vice versa. One of my favorite uses for this exercise is when horses are braced at the base of their necks and not through their backs or tracking up. By changing from shoulder in to shoulder out on the circle, I can soften the neck and establish a more correct connection without having to change rein – a nice bonus indeed!
So tomorrow morning when you’re mucking stalls and filling water buckets, consider the advantages of asking for shoulder out on the 20-meter circle when you ride out to school. Shoulder Out - the new and improved lateral suppling exercise, guaranteed to add one more physical and mental challenge to your already over-flowing list of dressage movements to master. Or maybe it might just be easier to put this idea out to pasture with another one of those dressage movements that you’ve probably schooled but won’t find in any USEF rule book or dressage test – the turn on the forehand. Now what’s with that?
Like I said at the beginning of this essay, I was just wondering ….
Susan Moody, IEO President