Cre­at­ing Ex­cel­lence

Part 2: Olympian Sue Blinks shows how her mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proach works in teach­ing move­ments like shoul­der-in and piaffe.

Dressage Today - - Content - By Sue Blinks with Beth Baumert

Part 2: Olympian Sue Blinks shows how her ap­proach works in teach­ing move­ments like shoul­der in and piaffe

Ex­treme suc­cess in dres­sage is a di­rect re­sult of cer­tain very spe­cific pos­i­tive qual­i­ties of the rider. Last month we dis­cussed those qual­i­ties and how rid­ers can im­prove their weak areas. In sum­ma­tion, we talked about:

1. The skilled dres­sage rider, who is able to give clear, con­sis­tent aids in all si­t­u­a­tions be­cause of an in­de­pen­dent seat and po­si­tion, elas­tic­ity, feel and tim­ing.

2. The ef­fec­tive horse trainer, who is able to ex­plain what she wants so her horse un­der­stands.

3. The rider who is ed­u­cated in clas­si­cal the­ory and has in­te­grated it into her rid­ing.

4. The rider who has a deep knowl­edge of horse­man­ship and takes ex­quis­ite care of her horses. 5. The rider who has peo­ple skills and at­tracts stu­dents and spon­sors. 6. The rider who has a pos­i­tive, re­silient, pa­tient, con­cen­trated per­son­al­ity. When one per­son “has it all” we’re likely to find her on the podium, and you can be sure that she has con­sciously worked on th­ese qual­i­ties. This month we’re go­ing to dis­cuss how to prac­ti­cally ap­ply some of th­ese qual­i­ties to the teach­ing of two move­ments: shoul­der-in and piaffe.


Why is shoul­der-in im­por­tant other than the fact that we have to ride it in dres­sage tests? It’s a tool—in its in­fancy all the way through to Grand Prix—for in­creas­ing sup­ple­ness, en­gage­ment, col­lec­tion and through­ness. The move­ment de­vel­ops the horse’s un­der­stand­ing of step­ping from the inside leg to the out­side rein into a more round, short­ened shape, which gives it a gym­nas­ti­ciz­ing qual­ity, en­abling the rider to add up­ward mo­bil­ity and ca­dence to the gaits with her driv­ing and re­cy­cling aids.

Shoul­der-in also helps the rider work through re­sis­tances (spook­ing, re­luc­tance to stay round, through or go­ing into the

When teach­ing your horse shoul­derin, ex­plain all the ba­sic pre­req­ui­sites to him: the leg-yield­ing, the bend­ing and en­gage­ment ex­pec­ta­tions.

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