One of the hardest things to learn is the proper three track angle for shoulder in – without the use of mirrors or a ground person, who can you tell you are in the right angle?
What is the right angle? Well – the horses shoulders are on the inside track with the legs moving on three tracks. Ie. the inside front leg is on one track (to the inside of the rail), outside front and inside hind on the same track and the outside hind on one track (on the rail). If the track is 12 o’clock, then shoulder in right the shoulders pointing to 1 o’clock and shoulder in left the shoulders are pointing to 11 o’clock at the same time the quarters at staying on the track/rail.
Too much angle and you are on four tracks…. too little angle and too much neck bend and you don’t really have shoulder in. If you are going to err on the side of a mistake, then better to have a wee bit too much angle than having too much neck bend.
Here is a little trick to help find the right angle. Imagine you have a cone or a person standing beside the horses shoulders on the track. When you are in shoulder in, the person has a comfortable amount of space to walk beside you without being stepped on or squished against the wall (too little angle) – nor are the horses shoulders so far away from the person that you have the horse on four tracks (too much angle).
Try it at home and see how it works!