In the book Master Dressage I talk quite a bit about straightness and suppleness and how the relate to each other. In particular I common problem I see is riders using too much inside leg and pushing the horse onto the outside shoulder, believing this to be suppleness or bend. The above picture shows the rider completing the exit from a corner. The left one clearly shows the horse to be still on its outside shoulder.
In the photo you can see two images, the one on the left is incorrect and the one on the right is a lot better. The issues you can see in the photo on the left as as follows.
- The rider has collapsed left. Notice the blue bar on the jacket. To the left of bar you can see how much more crumpled the jacket is.
- The red arrow pointing left shows the rider leaning left, and also note the riders head is tilted left, no doubt ‘looking to the inside’
- Top arrow pointing right – pelvis slid out right
- Middle arrow pointing right – knee and thigh opening the door and pointing right
- Bottom arrow – too pointing right, and mares ribcage bulging to the right.
To correct this issue and get the picture on the right we had to do a number of things…
- Get the rider to keep their chin over the mane.
- Close the outside rein to bring the shoulder back into line.
- Get the outside thigh more snug against the saddle to bring the ribcage and shoulder back into place
- Keep the rider facing ahead, so they do not twist to the inside
- Keep right shoulder on same vertical plane as outside seatbone ( instead of the outside shoulder advancing ).
I do not recommend to riders that they turn their shoulders in the direction the horse is turning, it causes twisting to the inside and often collapsing – it is quite sufficient for the shoulders to remain in line with the pelvis.