Getting the basics right is essential for training a well-schooled horse. This is the same whether you want to compete or are happy doing your own thing at home. A correctly schooled horse is also much less prone to injury as he’ll be fit and healthy enough to do the work you ask of him.
Australian Eventer Sam Griffiths knows a thing or two about schooling horses and here he shares with us one of his favourite exercises for developing suppleness – shoulder-in.
“Incorporating shoulder-in as part of your schooling regime encourages your horse to become suppler through his body” explains Sam. “I like to link a circle together with shoulder-in, which encourages your horse to be supple through the body, as only with this suppleness will he be able to maintain balance throughout the exercise.”
How to ride the exercise:
1 In trot, go large on the left rein around the school.
2 Focus on having an even rhythm and staying straight.
3 At one end of the school, ride a 10 or 15m circle depending on what your horse can cope with.
4 As you come back to the track, ride down the long side of the school and ask your horse for the shoulder-in.
5 Open your inside hand to encourage your horse to bend around your inside leg.
6 Create inside flexion and control the angle of shoulder-in with your inside rein.
7 Control the pace with your outside rein.
8 Use your inside leg to maintain activity, while your outside leg keeps your horse’s hindquarters straight on the track.
9 Once you reach the opposite end of the school, ride another circle.
10 Change the rein and repeat the exercise on the other side
Remember to be patient, keeping everything slow and calm. It takes time for your horse to understand what you’re asking, as well as for his body to be physically able to do it.
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