Green horse shoulders out terribly

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Green horse shoulders out terribly

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  • 1 Post By olympustraining
  • 4 Post By Cherie
  • 1 Post By Cherie

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    03-24-2013, 06:59 PM
Green horse shoulders out terribly

Hi all,

I'm training my lil boy (not so little) for dressage. I've had a professional out a few times to get us on track. He's really great about going straight on very large circles. However, he has a terrible habit of shouldering out on the right side on smaller circles. He's almost got it in this head that he can run off by avoiding cues that way. I've avoided working too much on the left rein because of that. My trainer said to keep his shoulder in with combinations of right leg cues and keeping his head from bending to the left too much, but I think he is too green to really pay attention to that just yet.

Any suggestions on keeping him Straight on his bad side? Should I do more lunging to strengthen that side?

Also, I rode my finished horse yesterday and noticed that he had a slight tendency to nose out on the left rein. Maybe it's my riding?! If so, what can I do to correct it?
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    03-24-2013, 07:05 PM
Have you checked for proper saddle fit? Are his muscles built up more on one side? You may be sitting to one side as well.

I wouldn't work on smaller circles until he can go straight, bend and counter-bend, on a large circle. Small circles aren't too good for young horses either since the joints in their knees don't fuse until about age 6.
PunksTank likes this.
    03-24-2013, 07:12 PM
Originally Posted by olympustraining    
Have you checked for proper saddle fit? Are his muscles built up more on one side? You may be sitting to one side as well.

I wouldn't work on smaller circles until he can go straight, bend and counter-bend, on a large circle. Small circles aren't too good for young horses either since the joints in their knees don't fuse until about age 6.
Yes, we have gone over the tack. While it is just about as narrow as I'd ever want it- I just bought a wide saddle and will find out how he does in that. When I say large and small circles, the small circle is about 10 ft. He is also turning 6 this year, and is really filling out so I am confident he is safely beyond baby stage :)
    03-24-2013, 07:20 PM
Super Moderator
Hereis a copy of what I just wrote for someone else with a horse that has a stiff side and a limber side and travels crooked. It is the exact same advice I would give you.

If he checks out with no soundness issues, it simply means that he is just 'leaning' on you and you are accommodating him by 'propping up' that side of him. This is not unusual.

A rider's job is to keep a horse 'centered' and must keep that horse between the reins and between the rider' legs. Any time a horse 'drifts' to one side or pushes out or leans in, the rider must correct the situation. Once you let the push on you, they seem to push or lean harder and harder.

Most horses have a 'stiff side' and a 'limber side'. They want to be stiff and not bend one way with a tendency to lean or drop a shoulder on that side. The other side is limber and they tend to be 'rubber necked' and 'over-bend' on that side or when going that direction. They 'talk' their riders into keeping the rein tight on that limber side and force the ride to constantly push on their stiff side.

This is why reining training involves so much lateral flexion and bending while moving forward at the lope. You have to be able to move every part of the horse's body in order to keep the horse straight and between the reins and legs of the rider.

The best way to correct a horse that has learned to push is to remove the prop they are pushing against and replace it with an 'over-correction' driving it back the other direction. If the horse is manipulating a rider into pulling on the left rein while his body is pushing against the rider's right leg, the rider needs to get the horse obedient enough so that he rider can take the horse's head to the right and 'drive' the horse's body to the left.

Teaching a horse to do 'leg yielding' exercises while driving it hard in the opposite direction is the only way to correct a horse. I usually get a horse to the point that I can lope circles with 'reverse bend' and can lope diagonally across the arena or work area driving it with the leg on the horse's stiff side.

You absolutely have to quit letting the horse lean on one rein and push against one leg. Use a spur or a crop and push the horse 20 feet or more over the opposite direction any time he ties to lean until he is willing to remain centered with no leaning or pushing. This will take a lot of work on your part because you have let this horse lean on you for quite a while.

I would have a good chiropractor look at him first. But even if he has a chiropractic problem, once it is fixed, he is still going to want lean on one rein and push against one leg and you will only be able to fix it like I outlined above.
Leg yielding exercises and lateral work coming off of your right leg will get him centered. I particularly like to track to the left and at the end of the long side of the ring, do a half circle to the left (taking you about 30 feet from the rail) and then leg yield back to the rail, trying very hard to stay as parallel to the rail as possible. Be sure that your horse bends around your leg when doing the 'leg yielding' part back to the rail. It is real easy to just have a horse bend his neck and stay stiff through the body, which won't fix a thing.
    03-26-2013, 11:20 PM
I would wear spurs if he's not getting off of your leg and make sure you're driving him forward with your seat. I would go with BIGGER circles until you and refine our bend for smaller ones. Lunging is not really good for strength building, it's good for limbering up and stretch to a degree as well as focus. Correct riding is all that will truly build his strength and topline.

So if he were mine I would be doing a lot of circles, direction changes, diagonals etc reversing often to limber up both sides of his body with an extra movement or two per figure on his bad direction.
    03-26-2013, 11:33 PM
How much contact are you riding with?
    03-27-2013, 10:11 AM
I ride him with very light but firm contact- he's very responsive and seeks the contact, but he's not really 'on the bit' yet, his training has not progressed that far.

I may have understressed the fact that this horse is very Green. He knows how to walk, trot, halt, back up, half halt, turn left, and turn right. We are introducing the leg yield, but only slowly and after he has produced consistent work doing the former things mentioned. In doing this, I usually put leg on him and tell him to turn at the same time, so he moves around the leg (at a slow walk or almost stand-still). He's doing pretty good, and will move away if I ask directly and very obviously. Spurs are out of the question right now- he doesn't have any problem moving. He just doesn't know what to do.

I don't have an arena to work on a rail. I usually work in an open field or on the road, so we don't actually do a ton of turning or circling like you see in arena work. The problem I mentioned is that when we do circle, his right is fine- perfect. But the left is terrible. Should I avoid doing any circle work at all until he can leg yield consistently? And this is only at the trot. He walks the left circle fine as well.
    03-27-2013, 10:43 AM
Super Moderator
Keep doing more and more circles. Make your objective to e able to canter a 40 or 50-60 foot circle with his head right straight in front of him.

You can introduce leg-yielding after only a few rides. All you need is forward impulsion. You can start it on a semi-loose rein as soon as a horse is going forward. You can start working toward a horse that 'stays off' on your inside leg and outside leg when you ask it to. Each ride it gets a little better. It is much worse to not address it right away as then bad form becomes the accepted and it takes a lot longer to see any improvement. They get set in very bad habits very soon after their first ride if you do not address them.
smguidotti likes this.
    03-27-2013, 10:41 PM
Thank you,

We just did a session today and focused on leg yielding- he did not shoulder out nearly as much! Thank you! I was sort of under the impression that I shouldn't use too many cues at one time on a young/green horse. But he stepped right up and took it like a pro

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