Shoulder Control: How to Correct a Horse that Drops the Shoulder in or Bulges out

Shoulder Control!

Controlling the shoulders can be tricky, especially with young or green horses. A lot of the time the shoulders will either fall in or bulge out when riding on a circle. In this weekend’s archive video, we’re going to discuss why that happens and give you exercises to stop it from happening when it does! AND point out some common pitfalls riders make when trying to address this!

There are two main reasons why horses fall in or out on a circle. 

  1. Draws – I call these “rathers” but these are things that draw your horse’s attention away from the task at hand, or things he’d “rather” be doing! For example, they often bulge going past the gate. 

  2. Crookedness –  If your horse is inherently crooked, this is going to affect your ability to control his shoulders on the circle. (check out the video for more on this)

Here’s a visualising trick for how you want the shoulders to be. If there’s a tunnel between your legs and your reins, you want the shoulders to be inside this!

Maintaining a correct rider position is obviously the first line of defence against this issue.

If your horse is BULGING: Don’t bring the outside rein across the neck to try and correct. Keep this on the outside and use your outside leg to push the shoulder back in.

If you’re on a circle, your knees are keeping your horse on the line, if your knee leaves the saddle you’re opening the door for the shoulders to move either in or out of the circle. 

Keep the elbows at your side and your thumbs up! 

Once the position is correct, you can practice moving the shoulders at the walk. 

To do this, walk a square, and at each corner, try and make a ¼ turn on the haunches. (or just move the shoulders around the hind end)

This teaches him that by closing the outside rein and leg you can turn the shoulder.

If you have a horse that drifts out, try riding a geometric shape to counteract this. 

Watch the video to see these exercises and how to do them in more detail and let me know in the comments if you find them helpful! 

Thanks for watching and happy riding!



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