Whenever I flatter myself that I understand equitation and horse training, I stop and remember an event that took place in the ‘80s When I was studying dressage with Debbie Grosenbaugh. It exemplifies the problem of language in passing along this art of horse riding.
She asked me to do shoulders-in down the long side of the arena on my little cutting horse Annie. So I did what I thought was shoulders-in.
“What in the heck was that?” she puzzled.
“It was what Henry Wynmalen described in his book,” I responded.
“I know that couldn’t be what he said. That was no kind of shoulders in!” she said.
Then she explained each part of the movement, and the importance of this essential movement in its building of collection of the horse.
Thirty six years later, and many successive teachers and books down the road, I still struggle daily with this deceptively simple seeming tool of the trade. Sometimes I even get two or three strides!
One must remain optimistic and humble!