Escalating Issues & Popped Shoulders

I’ve had some time to think about the ride I had on Monday, and how poorly it went. These issues have been escalating the past few rides. Monday was the worst, and I felt rather defeated and unsettled by the ride.

Joy is hollow on the right, stiff on the left.  Up until lately I could bend her to the right without her popping her shoulder out too much. I felt I had control of her outside. However, the past few rides, that shoulder pop’s left bad. No matter how hard I kick with the left leg she ignores it, half-halting the outside doesn’t help, and dragging her right doesn’t help (heh).

Here’s the video from the 2nd (Monday):

You can see the overly bent neck and popped shoulder in the video (above) at 43 and 53 seconds (etc).

Here’s the video from the 5th (Thursday). This is with a whip to back up the left leg aid:

I’ve also been working on my position more, although it’s not going so well. My arms have developed a life of their own. I’m riding around pleasantly when all of a sudden I realize my hands are in my face. How did they get there?!  It’s embarrassing!

Feel free to chime in with what you see (I’m a little hesitant to say that because I know it looks horrible, but give it to me straight!).


In other news:

Joy saw her first deer this week under saddle. I know she’s seen them in the pasture numerous times (the deer like to cut through my pasture), but I’ve noticed that for some reason if a horse is under saddle then wild animals are FEARSOME CREATURES that are intent on killing all horses. Joy did pretty well with it. The first one we saw was standing about 15 feet from us, Joy and I were alone, and I was praying it wouldn’t move as we passed it. It didn’t. The second and third time they were much further away and we were with another horse, so it wasn’t as scary. The third time (alone again) we only heard the deer crashing through the woods, and although Joy got a bit snorty and prancy at first, she stayed level headed about it and settled down quickly (Win!).

We also had our first car pass us (not close). Joy shot forward like the hounds of hades were on her tail. I ran her up the butt of the gelding that was with us.  Who doesn’t love a stoic, wise gelding? Best horse to have with us that day.  Joy regained her composure a bit after realizing the steady eddy wasn’t scared, but she still jumped and shook horribly when the second car passed us. I was very happy that she improved with the second car. I don’t think it’ll take her much time to realize the cars aren’t scary.

The other thing I was proud of Joy for… I was riding up to the neighbors barn, her horses were in the pasture which borders the path I take to her barn. Her horses come up to the fence and start to follow us. Then they get a mad hair up their butts and they just take off! Madly galloping around, bucking, farting, the works. Joy immediately wants to bolt off too. After an initial “Eeeeekkkk! I’m going to die!” I got Joy back and we did bendy lines at a walk all the way to the neighbors barn. She actually came back really quickly. I mean, she was still a wound up ball of tension, but she listened! And once we got to their barn she just stood there calmly while I chatted with the neighbor. Yay!!

Thursday, Joy and took our first solo ride around the back field. It has some pretty scary things going on back there. There’s a house and a pole barn being built in two different areas, and lots of weird things to hear and see (hammering, saws, flappy things, tractors, and weird soil to walk over). Joy was tense, but she kept her composure. That was the furthest we’ve gone without having another horse with us, and overall I thought it was a big success. It wasn’t calm, but she was well behaved and listening.

We’re going to be curtailed in our trail riding soon (hunting season), so I’m trying to get in as much as I can before the 15th.

5 thoughts on “Escalating Issues & Popped Shoulders

  1. Yes, she sure is stiff on the left! She is a lovely mare. You have a nice, centered seat, very quiet. When I started lessons with the new trainer 2 years ago I began to learn so much more about how to better influence my horse, a former team roping horse who at age 5 had shut down his mind and had a tremendously stiff, unyielding body. I came from the old brace and hold dressage manner, set the head, leg, leg, more leg to move body, blahblah. He stayed stiff and unbalanced, although it looked better to untrained eye, I didn’t truly have a nicely supple horse. The new trainer noticed it immediately! I had so much more to learn..
    Perhaps going back to walk, use the oscillation of your hands up through elbow as energy comes from your shoulder, setting the metronome with your seat. Taking up slightly more connection with one rein but bring your hand out from your side (let’s say left) to her head/neck less than 30 degree offset; your right hand/rein does not have contact; rein is light. Continue to walk (Say you are going from A to C) a few steps, using your seat to guide her (Jeff Moore says to “ride the gullet straight ahead”). See if she can do this off both sides. The next suppling exercise adds a bit more but continues on the theme of helping your horse to become supple in throatlatch and gain better balance and evenness. Once she is able to to this at walk you can take it into the trot.
    Your arms aren’t bad, they just come up when she throws you forward a bit; her imbalance causing you to tip and hands come up. I’ve re-read much of my Herbermann book, viewed and listened to my videos, audited Jeff Ashton Moore’s clinics, and they discuss nearly the same points using different ways of communicating a way for the rider to understand how to achieve a connection. Eric says, “think heavy, pointy elbows; visualize 10lb sacks of flour hanging from your elbow”, Jeff uses a similar idea. Another of Eric’s,”ride your horse and your hips through your Elllbowwws”. The main point they are making is for us to think about our connection first, next help your horse to be successful by teaching him how to use his body. The training method I described above is what my trainer had me use to help Sage gain suppleness (latitudinal and longitudinal suppleness) while also helping him gain confidence that he (his mind) and his body could do this work. Guess what? It is working!
    Once again I’ve gone on too long. My poor husband has to listen to this for hours because I get so enthusiastic about how it all comes together. Spent over 3 hours with our trainer yesterday and none of us got tired of yakking about the magic of it!
    Good luck. I’m sorry I can’t describe the technique any better than what I wrote above; but I can vouch that when put into practice, you will see results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I worked on keeping the rhythm with my seat, and having weighted elbows last night. That did help! Quite a lot. She was far steadier overall. More balanced. But, re-reading your comment today, I realized I forgot to try the “ride your horse and your hips through your elbows”. That’s a good way to think of it! I like that!

      I’m not sure I understood the exercise though. I think, if I understood it right, then I’d want to create the bend and encourage it by bringing the inside hand away from the neck some, and allowing the bend by releasing the connection on the outside. Then using my seat to guide the horse around the line. Does that sound right? I’ll try it next ride (I forgot last night). Let me know if I got the idea of the exercise wrong. But I think anything that helps her bend evenly will also help with the (not) bracing, and acceptance of the bit too. And then eventually I can unlock the back.

      Thank you!! A lot of great tips in your comment!


  2. You’re doing well!
    Just keep at it 🙂 Easier with a rail to practice along sometimes. If stiff to the left, ride to the right, and counter bend, just have her give you her jaw, to the left, then regular bend to the right through the corners. Has helped my mare some, and we are now sometimes able to have a bit more straightness, as well as help bend to her stiff side (which is her right.)
    Also noticing your horse is not showing acceptance of the bit. It’s for the experts to say why, and I won’t even try. Not sure if it’s truly bit related and the reasons can be many. Just pointing that out as she is not steady in the connection. More transitions perhaps, to help her soften, and come more “still” in her connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Last night I worked on keeping the jaw mobile, and what a Difference!!
      Also, you’re absolutely correct that she’s not accepting the bit still. Someday’s she locks down and utterly braces against it. I’ve been working on transitions, and I think that’s helping some, but not as well as I’d like. I think the counter flexing loosened her up enough that it helped prevent her from bracing to the degree she had been.

      Those two issues are at the crux of everything.
      I’ll try another bit. I’ve had a suspicion that maybe this one isn’t the best for her.
      Thank you!!


      • 🙂 As for me, I’m Constantly suspecting the bit is not working out for my mare. Haha, we’re on bit number 4 now.

        So far, tried a shaped straight mouth Happy Mouth Mullen snaffle, a Copper Loose Ring Double Jointed Snaffle, a soft rubber Pelham (eeek, once, just to see what happended), a Full Cheeck Copper double jointed snaffle with larger link in middle, and most recently a Happy Mouth single Jointed Baucher.
        She chomps like crazy on the Happy Mouths, so perhaps not for her.
        Best of luck with it!!!


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