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Horse Training Tips and Techniques, Helpful Hints for Health Care;
Plus Business Advice on Making Your Career With Horses a Financial Success

By Don Blazer

         If you want your horse to break at the withers, holding his head and neck down instead of arched and up, try an exaggerated "shoulder-in".

        When doing a traditional shoulder-in, the rider moves the horse's head and neck toward the center of the arena while also pushing the shoulder over just enough to cause the outside front foot to track in front of the inside hind hoof.  To correctly accomplish the shoulder-in the horse must move the forehand over just the width of his chest.

       When done correctly, the hoof prints will leave three tracks…the outside hind hoof leaves a track, the outside front hoof in front of the inside hind hoof leave a second track, and the inside front hoof leaves a track of its own.

       Flat saddle riders use the shoulder-in to create a supple, flexible, yielding horse.  (Western riders do also.)

       For western riders, an exaggerated shoulder-in, if held for several minutes while traveling at any gait, will cause the horse to want to straighten and lower his neck.  Don't hold the bend so long that the horse begins to be uncomfortable and fuss, but hold long enough for the horse to want to straighten his neck.

      As soon as you let the horse straighten his neck, praise him lavishly.  Ride with the neck in the straight, lowered position until the horse begins to lose his frame, then repeat the exercise.  Always work both directions, always give plenty of praise when the horse lowers his head and neck, and work all three gaits.

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