Thursday, December 9, 2010

The 2011 Second level tests: Hint #1

Last Saturday I attended a seminar on the 2011 dressage tests. In addition to learning lots of details about the development of the tests, the judges spoke about how to best ride the new tests. Tip for second level:

Go in the ring planning to ride the whole test in shoulder fore.

Why? Because second level requires you to show a whole 'nuther level of collection, and there is not much down time between movements. If you think shoulder fore throughout the test, your horse will be poised to do each of the movements in the most balanced and uphill way.

Now to me, the picture left is a shallow shoulder in because it's on three tracks. Am I right?

The picture is from Horse & Rider and accompanied an article on riding the shoulder fore, however. Worth reading, as is this Horse Channel article on the shoulder-fore as "training wheels for the shoulder-in.


  1. It sure looks like it's more a shoulder-in than shoulder-for to me! It's hard to tell without motion, but the amount of bend and apparent 3 tracks make it seem shoulder-in. A lot of the time you think you're straight on, and you're actually just off to the side enough to trick the eye, though.
    I now spend a large amount of my rides in shoulder-in left, working on natural unevenness in my horse (less mobility in his right shoulder and visibly less muscle on the left half of his back, especially when I first got him after 6 months off, so his natural state rather than a product of riding - both of which are improving drastically from this work). Correspondingly, he's using his hind end incredibly well. So that's a really interesting tidbit coming from a symposium! You obviously don't want to ride in shoulder-in, but thinking shoulder-fore... good idea!
    Now if only I can get h/i working as well... he doesn't like moving his back end around like he seems to love s/i, and his rider needs to get a clue to get it working right. ;-)

  2. Hard to tell for sure from this photo as the photographer seems to be outside the arena, changing the angle of the shot from direct head on.

    It is possible that the legs are on two tracks. But if they are on three, then it is a shoulder-in.

    Fine to ride a test in shoulder-fore provided the judge does not penalize you for not being straight, as some will. Might be better to suggest you ride "always supple enough to do shoulder fore."

    A slight shoulder-in movement can be helpful in transitions sometimes to encourage the horse to engage. But again, you have to be careful that it doesn't create a chronic crookedness.

  3. I am right now pretty much schooling training level and a bit of 1st. Mainly we're just trying to get my long mare into a frame. I've noticed that if I think think think shoulder fore then it is much easier to get going nicely. So whenever I ride I tell myself think shoulder-fore think shoulder-fore think shoulder-for. Definitely a good tidbit of advice.

  4. any good tips like that for riding the training level or 1st level tests?

  5. It looks to me like the photographer is straight on to the rail, which implies a slight outside fore --> inside hind angle relative to the horse. I think that might be making the angle look steeper than it is.

  6. Looks like the pic is a shoulder in. You could ride a test in a milder version of that...good advice, to be sure.

  7. Could be shoulder-fore..the camera is on the fence line. I used to ride a huge mare in a shoulder-fore position all the time. Truthfully, it helped me keep her safely under control.

    Interesting shoulder-in tidbit: counter shoulder-in helps the canter (Dr. Thomas Ritter).


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