Shoulder-In Explained

Understanding Horseback Riding Lateral Movements

What is a Shoulder-In?

A shoulder-in is the the very first stride of a 10 meter circle carried straight down the wall.

Turn On Forehand Reel

Shoulder-In Video

FEI Rider, Trainer, & Instructor, Eliza Sydnor Romm, explains the shoulder-in.

View From Above

The horse seen from above performing a shoulder-in

An Interactive Example

Click on the green flag, then click the arrows to see the horse do a shoulder-in.

Shoulder In Angle

Did You Know?

In a Shoulder-In, the horse moves at approximately a 30 degree angle to the track.

Aids for the Shoulder-In

Shoulder In Aids from Above

Rider Aids for a Shoulder-In:

The inside rein asks for flexion.

The outside rein controls the bend.

The inside leg is at the girth.

The outside leg is behind the girth.

The rider’s weight is slightly to the inside.

Shoulder-In Aids
Harry Boldt

Harry Boldt

World Renowned Dressage Rider / Author

The Dressage Horse/Das Dressurpferd (English & German Edition)

With two gold and two silver medals at both the Olympic Games and the World Championships, and with five gold, four silver and two bronze medals at European Championships, Harry Boldt was one of the greatest competitive dressage riders in the world for over two decades. Very few riders have a comparable wealth of experience in both producing dressage horses and riding internationally. Harry Boldt passes on this experience in his book The Dressage Horse.

The Dressage Horse book is available on Amazon.

Incorrect Examples of Shoulder-In

Some common errors when doing a shoulder-In

The horse on the left is over bent to the inside due to too much inside rein. The horse on the right is too straight and the haunches swing out, similar to doing a leg yield along the wall.

When to Do a Shoulder-In

Before you attempt a shoulder-in, you should ensure that you have warmed up your horse and have the supervision of your trainer or an adult if needed.

Make sure your horse is responding to your aids and moving forward with impulsion from his hind end.

Eliza Romm Shoulder In
Shoulder In 10 Meter Down Wall

Where to do a shoulder-in…

Use the corner of the riding arena to create the bend and continue down the wall while maintaining the bend.

Think of it as a 10 meter circle carried straight down the wall.

Shoulder-In & Shoulder-Fore

The horse’s legs travel on three tracks in shoulder-in and four tracks in shoulder-fore

Shoulder In Fore tracks

A shoulder-in that has an angle less that is less than 30 degrees is called shoulder-fore. In the shoulder-fore, the horse’s inside hind leg can be seen in between the 2 front legs when seen from the front.

Young or green horses begin training for shoulder-in with the shoulder-fore. Usually a young horse will not be supple or strong enough to have enough bend and angle for a proper shoulder in, so they begin with learning shoulder-fore. Over time, the angle and bend is increased until the shoulder-in happens. The shoulder-fore is also used as a straightening exercise in the canter.

Shoulder In Fore


Why Perform a Shoulder-In?

Horse Icon

For the Horse

Shoulder-fore and shoulder-in are both excellent exercises for developing engagement, suppleness, and throughness in horses at all training levels. It supples the shoulders, strengthens the hocks, and improves both the horse and the rider’s the inside leg to outside rein connection.

Helmet Icon

For the Rider

Riding the shoulder-in is a useful tool for riders to learn how to isolate control of the forehand from the hind end while maintaining control of the horse’s shoulders. Having control of the horse’s shoulders when going around turns makes the horse more enjoyable to ride because it helps the horse stay balanced and more organized during turns and direction changes.

Duke of Newcastle horse

Brief History of Shoulder-In

In the seventeenth century, Antoine de Pluvinel used the basic shoulder-in exercise to increase the horse’s suppleness and to get the animal used to the aids, especially the leg aids. He felt the exercise helped to make the horse obedient.

Independently, the Duke of Newcastle developed the exercise. In the eighteenth century, the French riding master Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere adapted the movement for use on straight lines. (source)


Eliza Sydnor Romm dressage logo

Eliza Sydnor Romm Dressage

FEI Rider, Trainer, & Instructor

Eliza Sydnor Romm is a classically trained dressage rider and instructor. Her goal is to successfully train horses and riders with an emphasis on partnership and harmony.

Eliza Sydnor Romm Dressage

Shoulder In Icon

Welcome to your Shoulder-In Quiz

Your Name (Required for leaderboard & certificate)
Email (Optional for emailed quiz results)
What is a shoulder-in?
What angle does the horse move in during a shoulder-in?
Where is the rider's inside leg during a shoulder-in?
What does the outside rein do during a shoulder-in?
True or False? The rider's weight is slightly to the inside during a shoulder-in.
An error during a shoulder-in would be...
What is the difference between a shoulder-in and a shoulder-fore?
Young horses usually begin learning a shoulder-in by doing what?
What is a benefit of doing a shoulder-in and shoulder-fore?


RankQuiz NameUserCorrect Score
1Shoulder-In Quizlyndsee22
1Shoulder-In Quizlyndsee22
3Shoulder-In Quiz88
4Shoulder-In QuizDeb100
5Shoulder-In QuizDeb88
5Shoulder-In QuizKelsey Benum88
5Shoulder-In QuizKelsey Benum88
8Shoulder-In QuizREESE33
8Shoulder-In QuizREESE33
8Shoulder-In QuizREESE33
8Shoulder-In QuizREESE33
12Shoulder-In QuizJen100
13Shoulder-In QuizSusan100


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