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USE SHOULDERS-IN TO BREAK AT THE WITHERS
By Don Blazer
One of the best ways to get your western horse (or a hunter under saddle for that matter) to break at the withers instead of at the poll so that he carries his head and neck long and low is to teach the "shoulder-in."
When the horse performs a shoulder-in, the forehand (head, neck and shoulders) all move the width of the horse's chest to the inside of the circle you are riding. While the forehand moves to the inside, the hindquarters remain straight.
To request the movement while moving to the left, use the left rein to tip the horse's nose to the left, use your right leg forward to push the horse's forehand to the left, and use your left leg back to hold the hindquarters straight. You do not want the horse going sideways…all you want is the forehand to move over the width of the horse's chest, which will create a "three track" foot fall. The left fore will track on the left by itself. The right fore and the left hind will track on the same path, and the right hind will track on the right alone.
Work the shoulder-in maneuver 3 to 5 minutes in each direction, then ask the horse to move with his body straight; you'll be amazed at how long and low he wants to carry his head and neck…..now move him forward with hindquarter impulsion and you've got a beautiful picture.
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