Improving Haunches-In and Shoulder-In When Your Horse's Stiff Side is on the Inside

Lately, I seem to be getting a lot of questions about improving haunches-in and shoulder-in when the stiff side is on the inside.

So here are some ideas to help. I’ll start with haunches-in.

Let’s say your horse is stiff to the right. Start by tracking to the right and do the following:

1. Ride a 10m circle in the trot, and focus on bending from poll to tail (Make sure your outer leg (left) is draped behind the girth to help curve your horse around your inside leg (right). You need to use both legs-inside on the girth, outside behind the girth in order to bend. Also, keep your weight on your inside (right) seatbone.

Ask for inside flexion (right) by turning your wrist as if you're starting your car by turning the key in the ignition while you support with your outside rein (left) so you don't get too much bend in the neck.)

2. Keeping the bend from poll to tail, keep your legs in the "bending position" described above while you leg yield out to an 11 or 12 meter circle. Leg yield with a bend several times until it feels easy, and your horse feels softly bent around your inside (right) leg. He'll probably try to swing his hindquarters to the left so keep your outside leg (left) behind the girth to prevent that from happening.

3.Then think of haunches-in as the last step of a 10m circle continued on a straight line. So once you have good bend on the 10-meter circle, keep that bend with your inside aids, but use your outside rein and leg to KEEP YOUR HORSE FROM COMPLETING THE CIRCLE.

On the last step of the circle (his forehand will be on the track but his hindquarters are still on the arc of the circle), keep the bend, and apply your outside aids to tell him to go straight down the track. (Close your outside hand in a fist and give a little squeeze with your outside leg behind the girth.)

You can also use these ideas to help you when you do shoulder-in on your horse’s stiff side. After all, shoulder-in is simply the first step of a 10-meter circle continued on a straight line.

1. So, bend him as described in #1 and #2 above. Then as you start another 10-meter circle, interrupt that circle during the first step, and send your horse down the long side by using your inside leg and looking straight down the track.

2. Your horse’s hindquarters should stay parallel to the rail. If they’re at an angle to the rail, he’s lost the bend.

3. Think of riding his hind legs straight down the track and bringing his outside front leg onto the inner lip of the track.

A Happy Horse

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Comment by Ann Crago on March 13, 2010 at 11:01pm
...Thanks so much for the feed back "Lightly"...much appreciated....and yes it's very cool to have Jane here with us.....
Comment by GoLightly on March 13, 2010 at 8:00pm
Wow,how cool is that, Jane Savoie blogging on BarnMice? I'll answer you, Ann, with a resounding yes. I'll bet shoulder-in right is difficult for you both, and it's a very handy position to ask for a canter from. If you're "twisted" left, this does indeed make it difficult for him to pick up a canter right. The canter is an asymmetrical gait, and you do need to be seated properly to "swing" with the correct lead. The correct lead originates with the outside hind.. Shoulder-in Left will help strengthen his left hind, so that right lead canters become more easy for him. Best of luck, safe/happy riding!
Comment by Ann Crago on March 5, 2010 at 4:45pm
....Would this also help a VERY green Ziggy pick up his canter on the correct lead...he does beautifully going left but just doesn't seem to be able to organize himself going right....I also have a twist on my left side that kinda makes it a 'LEADING" side ..which probably doesn't help him either......Your thoughts would be VERY helpful...Thanks

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