Move Those Green Shoulders!

Trainer: "Why don't you think about trying a little shoulder in with him?"
Me: "Hold my beer..."
I love lateral work!
If there's one thing I've realized I'm pretty good at in the dressage training world, it's lateral work. It helps that both my horses are short coupled and ride like little sports cars. Still, something about lateral work just clicks in my head.

Pig and I spent a lot of time hashing out the shoulder-in. Neither he nor I took to the work all that naturally and spent hours and hours figuring it out. That stubborn old red horse built up my toolbox to an incredible degree, making training Bast that much easier.
Thanks best friend, for making me love shoulder in and half pass so damn much.
Since day one, Bast's training has been focused on moving parts of his body individually. Plus my own strengths are in moving the shoulders. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that when I asked Bast for shoulder in during a recent lesson he easily figured out what I was asking and made several solid attempts.

Going to the right things were relatively easy to start. However, in the way of green horses, going to the left was a total different experience.
Can you see how shoulder in helps build strength for collection in the hind end?
To the right, I simply sat up, put my outside hip towards the inside shoulder, turned my upper body very slightly to the inside, and put my inside leg on to hold the bend and straightness. We wobbled for a few steps before Bast dropped in his hind end and really figured out where all his parts should go. I tested him several times by giving the inside rein, and he stayed within the box my body defined for him and on my outside rein. Magic!

To the left I repeated the aids. Only instead of shifting his shoulder over and sitting behind, Bast responded by stiffening to the outside rein and blasting forward into canter off my inside leg. Uh. Whoops.
The look on my face says it all. "Hey man. This is not remotely the shoulder in I asked for. Wtf are you thinking?"
I've finally realized the issue stems from Bast not knowing how to bend and sit on his right hind when it's on the outside. Honestly the issue has shown up in all our work, but the shoulder in question makes it much more apparent.

Slowing down the movement makes it much easier for his brain to handle, so I brought him back to a walk and worked there for awhile. Once he had the idea I asked again with good results.
"Oh! Like this?" -- Bast, probably
He's still not even on both sides, but he's coming along. We worked on some turns on the forehand off the left leg recently that required him to slow down and think about placement and weigh bearing on that right hind. I think those exercises will prove very helpful moving forward with the little guy.

I've found this horse to be such a trier. My goal in training him to keep from overwhelming him, and instead do my best to equip him with all the tools necessary to do what I ask. Keeping things easy and positive seems to be the key to having him enjoy his work and keep thinking and offering answers.
Good boy.


  1. It is always interesting to me how wildly different a green horse can be on each rein. Ellie had to work through this same type of issue with learning shoulder in. Bast is coming along so well, and one of my favorite qualities is that effort and try in a horse!

    1. It's one of mine, too! Though sometimes with these hot types they get so frustrated when they feel like all their try isn't getting them anywhere. Haha!

  2. Ugh, when are you coming north again so you can get on Opie and teach him about body parts? Bobby found the lateral work SO EASY that it made it super easy for me to train him on it. Opie...not even remotely.

    1. Can we trade horses for a week? I need you to teach Bast to close his lips on the bit and make sweet sweet foam. Lol. He's closing his mouth quietly now, but still leaving his lips open. Ugh!

  3. Aw good boy Bast! I’m totally relying on Charlie’s recognition and enjoyment of puzzles to get his lateral work more confirmed. Bc yea.... homeboy is a big as a bus and basically as flexible too lol

  4. I'm a lover of lateral work too...we need shirts or something LOL!


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