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Mare dropping shoulder

I am getting, or trying to get my mare and me back into riding. Tonight on a right rein she would drop her shoulder and not just cut the corner but nearly cut the circle in half. She was not listening to my inside leg at all.
On the ground I practice bringing her head down and round then move her hip over, head flexed and leg yield out of the circle as well as side passing. Somehow all this work on the ground is not translating to the saddle.

She and I are both older, I bought her thinking she knew this but apparently not. I think she did at one time but think she may have had several years off as a pasture puff.

Any chance you are not staying balanced in your seat? If your weight is shifting to the inside as you apply your leg, this could contribute to her sharp turn.

Especially when my BTDT horses are not responding as they “should,” I always examine my posture and neutrality first. Check your lateral, longitudinal balance, shoulder and head position, leg position and pressure on her barrel, timing of hand and leg aids, and so forth. Videos are very helpful. Try changing some things in you and see what she does.

Then, you can use exercises to help her keep listening, for instance, shallow serpentines. You pick up a slight bend, focus on something in the distance, ride straight for 4 or 5 strides then bend the other way, refocus and ride straight, then repeat. The bending strides also should be very few each time, say 4 or 5.

The groundwork you describe, translated to the saddle, could result in a bit of a pivot on the shoulder. Try not to focus on the horse’s head and neck position for a while - overall straightness is your friend. Suppleness (changes of bend through whole body) will help you the most.

Good luck.


Make sure you are not dropping YOUR inside shoulder. I had this problem with one of mine and turned out it was me dropping my inside shoulder and she followed.


I had a very similar (almost exactly the same) issue with my horse! It turned out that I consistently put more weight into my right leg, and lean to my right. My horse compensated for that by getting the wrong lead. I am working on fixing my issues by getting regular chiropractor appts and riding bareback and no stirrups, as well as riding in a two point and focusing on stepping into my left leg.

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You are doing something wrong that allows her to cut the circle. The question is figuring out what. :wink: (which is why you are here!)

Are you riding with one hand or two?
For either, are you crossing the plane of the neck when you shouldn’t be? (example, “lifting” the inside rein to try to “prevent” her from dropping in)
Do you have your weight in the wrong seat bone?
Are you accidentally blocking her with pressure with your outside leg, instead of opening?

Could be any number of things!!

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A video is going to tell the tale far easier than any describing the situation will. And it’s the only way to really understand what’s going on and give helpful advice.

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A video is not easy for me to get. I often get very good advice with no video, the people on this forum are very good at seeing the problem from the description given.

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She is stiffer on the right for sure but I agree I am uneven so will check that next ride. thanks

The person you are responding to is a very experienced western trainer. Personally I would love to have her watch a video of me riding, even a short one if possible, if I was having a problem with my horse instead of taking a WAG off a couple of posts.

have been doing online Pilates for over a year and just this month I went to a Pilates instructor in person. She could tell I have been doing Pilates and for me it was wonderful to have in person eyes on my saying, like this, more like that…it would be equally wonderful if I could have an in person lesson on my horse, it would be really wonderful, it has been a long time since I have had a real lesson, and maybe sometime it will once again be possible, I have done video lessons, they can also be very encouraging and useful.
Like you said, ‘if possible’, I would love a video critique but atm it isn’t possible. :slight_smile:
So I try with what I have, with what is available to me.

Honestly I am surprised to be receiving what feels like criticism for asking for advice.

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Not criticism so much, but just letting you know that you know that if you could get a short video of what is happening when you ride, the person asking about one would be a valuable resource and likely a video would be better for all to evaluate you situation (though I might not have worded it really well) than going off the information from your posts.

Maybe try to find a friend or someone at the barn who can do a quick video with your phone for a minute?

I agree a video would be great. I ride at home by myself. :slight_smile:

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There’s too many variables to give an accurate answer…a horse could drop its shoulder because of its shoulder….it’s ribs, it’s hip……leading with the ear instead of the chin when bending, sticky to aids, something you’re doing etc.
I ride by myself most of the time and get a little innovative when I want to see a visual often propping my phone up at various places around the arena to get a look.
I hope someone can give you the answers you’re looking for!


They have thank you.

Do you have a smart phone?
Then you prop your phone on something, hit record, and ride your horse in a couple circles in front of the camera, and upload it to YouTube, and post the link here.