My horse drops his shoulder when I'm turning circles.
That is a very common problem. A problem that all horses will exhibit, each and every one of them, during the early stages of training. And if you can use your legs very strongly, balance with your seat and use your back very effectively, it is a problem that is easily solved. Some horses just gain experience and stop doing it, and some have to be corrected by training.
If you aren't as strong as the average horse trainer, or if your horse is a little more than what you can handle sometimes, try these two methods. I teach it to my students, and have had good luck with it.
Dropping the shoulder to the outside.
The blue circle is what you wanna ride.
The pink circle is what your horse gives you.
The gate... well that's the gate. LOL.
This is what your horse says...
1. "Ok, trot... yeah, no problem, trot is good."
2. "Oh, trot a circle. Alright, circle is good."
3. "Hey, look at that... We get to go to the gate. Alright!!! Really good."
4. "Almost to the gate. But last time we had to go past the gate. If I speed up, she'll know I wanna go to the gate, and then maybe we're done. Speed up is good."
5. "Oh no, we aren't going to the gate. And she's not letting me slow down. This is not good. But I can go to the gate, I can, I can go to the gate. I can turn my head and still go to the gate."
6. "Ah sheesh, we're past the gate. But trot with my head turned works pretty good. Maybe if I speed up, and head straight for the arena fence, she'll give up and let me go to the gate."
1. "Dang, that didn't work. Guess I'll just trot."...
Keep going with #2
As your horse makes that circle and specifically as he makes the mad dash for the gate, you'll notice a speed up.
That is really where the key is.
He is carrying himself in pretty good balance as he goes around the top part of the circle. But as he speeds up, he will transfer weight to his front end. And as he weights his front end, he will loose ability to turn.
So he solves it by turning his head. Which throws him off balance even more.
Now, to keep going forward, he has to throw out the outside shoulder to even keep going.
And seeins he's headed for the gate (where he wants to go), he ain't about to slow down.
So out the shoulder goes, and seeins he's now totally off balance, the hind end goes in gear, to try to catch some of this, and as it comes in gear, he'll speed up even more.
Now you're past the gate, and he has to make a decision... Slow down and obey (and weight his hind end), or speed up and force you to get in his face to turn him.
So here is how to deal with it.
You'll still need to use your legs, but not quite as strongly and precisely.
2-3. Watch your speed. Specifically, even for a western horse, your rhythm and impulsion. Make sure he's really going the speed and balance you want him to have.
4. This is where he will start thinking about heading for the gate. Give him a check.
5. This is where he'll pick up speed. Stop him. If you can let him settle, let him. If he wants to act like an idiot, just back up a couple of steps, and then walk from 5-6.
6. Give him a good request for lateral movement to the inside of the circle. Make sure he doesn't speed up as he goes sideways. You might have to stop him again, move to the inside of the circle a couple of steps, and then keep walking.
7. Really authoratatively pick up the trot and mash him right forward. Go go go go...
As you progress you'll want to shorten the distance that you walk. You'll feel him stay in balance underneath you longer, anticipating the stop on 5, so you can ride by 5 till you feel him speed up and loose balance. Then stop him.
Ideally stop him afore he looses balance, but after will work too.
Anyhoo, you'll feel it.
Then you can start just slowing down at the trot and asking him to stay in balance with your leg.
If he gives you any guff, stop, move to the inside of the circle and go again.
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