Developing a Path of Understanding Before Attempting Shoulder In

“It is very unfortunate that so much ring side coaching is laden with  “use more leg and ride more forward” as the always fixed answer.

I received a thought provoking text one morning as I was driving into work. The content of the message was advising me that I needed to walk like a penguin when traversing the Sage Creek parking lot due to its having a layer of ice covering it.

I instantly recognized that the advice was simply about adjusting to shorter steps to create the balance needed to walk safely on ice.

Likewise when a horse has tension from balance issues, influencing smaller steps will help the horse have freedom and lightness in the front end while allowing him to re define his needs.


Attempting a shoulder in or any of the movements for that matter, will result in an unproductive inept mess if you are not able to influence the length of your horses steps.

There is no way to have success in lateral movements if you do not understand how to support your horses needs.


When the rider does not have a concept of the length or activity of his step to be able to balance and bear more weight on the horses hind end. They are truly lacking in building the athleticism needed in the development of strengthening muscle, while allowing freedom and energy to flow. The goal is to not subject the horse to physical stress on his tendons, joints and emotions.

Before any of this is attempted a defined riders position with balance, feel and timing while maintaining energy is a good place to start.


Donnette Hicks

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