(© John Richard Young. First published in Arabian Horse Express September 1990. Thanks to Yvonne Welz and her archives at www.thehorseshoof.com. Image of François Robichon de La Guérinière and student, “L’Epaule en Dedans” (Shoulder-in) by Charles Parrocel.)
Last month I expressed my negative opinion of the shoulder-in as an efficient schooling exercise, particularly when attempted by the average, semi-skilled rider. I gave reasons for my opinion and quoted other horsemen who agree with me.
However, I do not expect everybody else to agree with me, nor would I presume to force my views on those who prefer to think differently. I would rather help them, if I can, in pursuing the way they wish to go with their horses. Therefore, the following remarks about the shoulder-in are addressed to fledgling trainers who, for whatever reasons, elect to follow in the footsteps of tradition regardless of what I think.
(Copyright © 2008 Sherry Ackerman. Published by New World Library. Used with permission of the author. Image by Anthony van Dyck, detail of Equestrian Portrait of Prince Tommaso Francesco of Savoy-Carignano.)
Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you…Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question…Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. ~ Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan
Western social norms, so strongly influenced by the Puritan ethic, have traditionally offered a distorted view of sensuality and body communication. Nudity is regarded with suspicion, touching is associated with lust, and sharing sensual experience is considered inappropriate. In general, appreciation for the body has been considered pornographic. I recently entered some of my artwork in a gallery show. In an attempt to decide which pieces might find favor with the jury, I called the show organizer and asked some questions. I told her that I had a couple of “risky” new works that I would like to enter but was uncertain how the jury would receive them. She asked me what I meant by “risky,” and I told her they were abstracts with extremely bold colors and lines. “Oh,” she replied, “as long as they’re not nudes, I don’t think there will be any problems.”
(© John Richard Young. First published in Arabian Horse Express, April 1990. Thanks to Yvonne Welz and her archives at www.thehorseshoof.com. Illustrations by Johann Elias Ridinger, “Trot on the line to the left” and “The School Trot on the line in the circle to the right”.)
A common error in basic training is riding a young, green horse too much in circles. Some western trainers in particular believe that “circling never hurt a horse.” But it can, if it is not interspersed with a lot of work on long, straight lines.
(© John Richard Young. Article first published June 10, 1991, Arabian Horse Express. Thank you to Yvonne Welz at https://www.thehorseshoof.com for this article via her John Richard Young archives. Painting, detail, Anbetung der Heiligen Drei Könige, Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427 ).
One of the most skilled horsemen I have ever known schooled every horse that passed through his hands in a double bridle from the very first lesson under saddle. It made no difference whether he was starting a green colt or reforming a spoiled horse, or what the horse’s ultimate specialty was to be. He started and finished the training in a Weymouth bridle.