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Naughty Neds - kindly written for World of Horses by Karry Gardner
Laterally Speaking!!
Help..........OOhh... OOhh... Yikes & Blimey ,it's May already !!

It's now May 10 th which means that there are only two more real weeks left before the first competition of the season and I haven't even ventured outside into the scary arena yet. MGB knows that there are monsters in the top right hand corner which could eat her if she goes too close and that the car where the judge sits and watches really contains even more scary horse eating dragons. We really do have to get out there or 25th May will see us sidelined and writing for the judge (me , that is ,not MGB - who obviously can't write yet.)

Our private lessons are getting harder and harder in some ways and easier in others. Easier because the Boss has stopped speaking in a foreign language ( or because I have learned to interpret him better) and harder cause he expects more and more of us.

He always insists that each horse is a potential Grand Prix horse and that's how they are trained, regardless - I try to tell him that's OK for him but it takes a potential Grand Prix rider as well, which I am not ! His reply to that statement is far from polite and so I won't print it here.

We have started seriously tackling "shoulder in". I say seriously, because I discovered the other day that I have been riding this movement totally incorrectly for five years which explains why neither Hayley nor myself are Grand Prix level.

"Shoulder In" is a wonderful suppling exercise but it only works if the shoulders are displaced properly (and not just the head and neck) and the horse moves on three tracks. It does NOT work if the rider merely bends the horse's neck inwards without outside leg support because the horse can then cross his inside foreleg behind the outside one and fall over, thus loosing balance. I will give you no prize for guessing which idiot, not a million miles from here has been riding neck bends instead of proper "shoulder-in".

To ride a correct shoulder in, the horse must be moving forwards on three tracks and is slightly bent around the inside leg of the rider. The horse's foreleg passes and crosses in front of the outside leg; the horse should look away from the direction of travel.( S'easy innit!!)

The shoulder in is performed usually (but not always) along the wall at an angle of around 30 degrees to the direction in which the horse is moving.

To ask for shoulder in, the rider places the inside leg on the girth to request the bend and to keep the horse moving forward and while the inside rein leads the forehand in from the track and the outside rein against the horses neck (never over the neck, it's a horse not a motorbike!!) controls the degree of the bend , the impulsion and THE OUTSIDE SHOULDER) .

This exercise is invaluable for gaining control of the horse's forehand and is used to some small degree ,all the time in all the gaits as an aid to straightening . Even thinking "shoulder-in" will (apparently) provide the rider with the aids used for better control.

The only way I could see this actually happening (when I eventually "got it" ) was by looking in the mirrors to witness MGB carefully crossing her legs whilst walking down the long side like a little ginger ballerina doing barre exercise . It was obviously difficult for her because it takes a fair degree of concentration to walk like this when you have four legs to co-ordinate and a mad woman riding you. She tried her little heart out and we eventually got it right. (Or at least more right than the last 400 or so attempts at it) .

I didn't find it to hard to get the bend to the inside but it required a lot of outside leg to keep her outside shoulder from drifting towards the wall and thereby loosing our three tracks into four. There is nothing to be gained from doing "shoulder in" on four tracks because it is actually just inside neck bend and not "shoulder in" at all and thank goodness for me I found THAT out before I was 44 or I would have done it wrong forever - probably.

Having got a decent "shoulder-in" down the wall, The Boss made me do it down the three quarter markers which is harder because there is no supporting wall so we tended to drift a lot . If " shoulder-in" fails in this way, the rider should either ride a circle in the direction of travel or straighten the horse because there is no benefit to riding this movement incorrectly.

"Shoulder In" down the three quarter marker sets a horse up nicely for two things, I discovered; it prepares you for a really nice, spot on canter transition and sets you up for other lateral movements like half pass where the horse travels along the diagonal towards the wall instead of down it

I got really confused when reading about leg yield, shoulder in, travers and half pass but to try and make more sense of these movements (I am ridiculed regularly for having trouble with left and right!!) I found that writing them down helped me enormously and would recommend that you try it if you are confused. I have also drawn some pictures (with the aid of Microsoft !) and I hope they help a bit. Now I have got the hang of introducing pictures and photographs, I will use them more often in my articles. I might even me able to get you a bit of video of me and MGB working ,which should give you all a laugh, if World of Horses has the technology to get it working on the site !

Leg Yield Down The Three Quarter Marker from the long end of the school heading between K and E TOWARDS THE WALL

Horse is straight except for slight bend at the poll so that the rider can just see the horse's eyebrow and nostril on the inside.

Horse is looking AWAY from the direction of travel.

Horse's INSIDE legs pass and cross in front of the outside legs and horse MOVES sideways towards the wall (in this case)

Lateral Image This is the most basic of lateral moves (or so the books say!)

Shoulder In Down The Three Quarter Marker from the long end of the school after K heading between B and M AWAY FROM THE WALL:

Horse is bent to the inside at around 30 degrees.

Horse is looking AWAY from the direction of travel.

Leg at inside of girth for bend and impulsion, outside leg behind the girth controlling the back end.

Open inside rein to lead the forehand in from the track, outside rein against the horse's neck .Outside leg keeps the shoulders from falling =

out to the wall .(V.Important or you will move on four tracks and not three)

Horse's INSIDE foreleg passes and crosses in front of outside leg.

Horse moves on THREE tracks looking sideways whilst travelling forwards and MAINTAINS the line.

Lateral Image (I think that these two movements are enough to take in to be going on with so I'll write down travers and half pass next time when I understand them better !!)
And Finally................A Rogues Gallery
Felix Image

Feliciano L (Felix)
I just thought that you'd like to meet a few of the characters on our yard and so over the next few articles I am going to introduce you to some of them, starting with.....

Felix belongs to Small Boss and can be  described as essentially an "oral person"  very, very cheeky and highly opinionated as you can see from the expression on his face.

Felix is an incredibly handsome Hanoverian gelding  and a very talented Advanced Medium dressage horse, (he could certainly double for Black Beauty ).

Felix shunned the chance of living out last summer when he was  faced with the prospect of sharing a field with two chestnut mares.

We turned him loose with the mares and he decided that the stable was safer than the wide open spaces.He jumped a five foot gate and brought himself a quarter of a mile up the road and  back to the yard, into his stable.

Who says all horses are better off living out ??!!  - Felix didn't fancy it -  and he didn't fancy the mares either !!

To send your email question to Karry please click here
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