This was originally part of another post, but that one got a bit long-winded and off topic, so Cadence's first shoulder ins got themselves their very own post. I still get off topic a bit at the end though.
Now that we're in the winter training season, we've been ramping up the flat work. After some decent trot leg-yields (we have a bit more trouble with those, because I have a bit more trouble controlling her tempo w/o losing the lateral momentum.. but they're still fantastic seeing as we've worked on it less than 10 times...) in our Friday dressage lesson, my coach decided it was time for us to introduce shoulder fore and shoulder-in to Cadence. Now, this is an area I'm a bit greener in. I've worked on shoulder-in... less than 5 times before. I know how to ask, and what it feels like, but trying to explain this to a horse who's got no clue wtf you're asking them for is a little more difficult, because while I know what is right and what is blatantly wrong, I struggle a bit more in the grey areas. However, Cadence was brilliant and definitely saved me a bit. She just gets things so quickly, and is flexible (not to be confused with supple) and co-ordinated enough to just simply do it without too much work. The only issues we had were keeping the slow tempo in the trot. She fought that WAY more than anything. To the left, her better leg-yield direction, her shoulder-ins were actually worse. They were better in the walk, but in the trot she just attempted (or maybe succeded is a better term!) to run through my right rein. Overall though she was brilliant, and once again made me look far better than I am.
Actually, I did have to pay for it in the canter work, as she was a bit tense from the new material, so when my coach asked me to collect her through the short ends and let her out a bit on the long wall... she interpreted that as my aid for her to gallop. To explain the feeling to a friend, I likened it to attempting to hold a train back with a piece of string. You can hold on to it, but if you take too much of a hold, the train will just snap the string and then you've got nothing. However, if you just let go completely you're SOL too. So its that fine balance.
Also, as a side note, feeling that amount of energy coursing through an animal really is an amazing feeling, and I can't think of another instance in which it would be replicated. For the sciencey type, you've got all this potential energy stored so close to the surface, and you know the tiniest lapse in your riding would turn that potential energy into kinetic energy... anyway, clearly midterms are getting to my head.