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Q: My horse has had five months of training under saddle. He has a tendency to drop his left shoulder at the lope and fall in a little on his left lead. What riding exercises would you recommend to remedy this? – Elizabeth W.
A: Since you’ve been riding your horse for five months, I’ll assume you have control of his five body parts – the head and neck, poll, shoulders, ribcage and hindquarters. The five body parts are like hinges on the horse’s body that need oiled every day. Once you have control of each of those body parts, you’ll be able to shape the horse and move him in any position you’d like. That means that if your horse drops his left shoulder while loping, you can apply pressure with the calf of your left leg up by his shoulder to pick it up.
There are several exercises you can use to get better control of your horse’s shoulders and reinforce to him that he needs to keep his shoulders up. Some of these exercises are Shoulder In/Shoulder Out, Counterbending, Two-Tracking and Rollbacks on the Fence. Each of these exercises will teach your horse how to move his shoulders away from pressure when you ask.
If you find your horse continuously falling in on his left lead in a circle, you can practice moving his shoulders from the inside of the circle to the outside by incorporating Shoulder In/Shoulder Out. After moving his shoulders into the circle and then out of it, let him go back to moving on the circle and you’ll find he’ll keep his shoulders on it. After making him work harder on the circle – moving his shoulders in and out of it, being able to travel around the circle looks like the easy part of the day.