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View Full Version : Flat Exercises to build up weak shoulder?



Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 01:19 PM
I have a horse that's asymmetrical in his shoulders, causing saddle woes. His right shoulder is more built up/bulgier, left shoulder drops straighter.

What flat exercises would you all recommend to help strength and build up the left shoulder? He's really out of shape, so something we can build up to.

Thanks!

JB
Apr. 21, 2009, 01:59 PM
Do you know the cause of the unevenness? If you don't and therefore can't work on fixing it, then not much else matters as it won't fix the symptoms.

If this was an injury that caused muscle wasting, then see the thread on building neck muscles (http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=201082)because it's all the same goal.

If it's due to unbalanced feet, that has to be addressed at the same time as the above work.

eqrider1234
Apr. 21, 2009, 02:07 PM
I agree with JB.. also it cant hurt to work on bending: shoulder ins, shoulder outs, lots of circles: big to small back to big, lots of transitions, going in strait strait lines, serpentines, alot of stretching out and collecting of the stride.

Good luck

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 02:29 PM
I have to admit, I've had this horse 8 years, and I never truly noticed until last year the imbalance....so he may have had it all along, not sure.

It's not feet, but it COULD be because I have been riding unbalanced ever since I got him. I had a bad shoulder that I hunched over to the right to protect, even while walking or sitting, so you know I did the same on horseback. I'm going to guess that he's built up on that side to hold me up, protect himself from my bad posture. My mare is similarly defensive on that side, though not physically imbalanced, mainly because I didn't ride her as much (read: had a baby, never get time to ride).

On the exercises, should I do one side more than the other? Which? On which exercises? He can do them all, I just can't seem to wrap my brain around which is best to help that weak shoulder the most.

Thanks!

JB
Apr. 21, 2009, 03:30 PM
I have to admit, I've had this horse 8 years, and I never truly noticed until last year the imbalance....so he may have had it all along, not sure.
Sneaks up on ya doesn't it! :lol:


It's not feet, but it COULD be because I have been riding unbalanced ever since I got him.
Check his feet out. Stand him up squarely, on concrete if you can, and crouch down in front of him to get a good worm's-eye view of his feet. You may be surprised :)



So, this is something you have to learn to fix in yourself as well. If you cannot, for whatever reason, fix your physical issue, then you have to learn how to compensate so that you ride "straight" despite that. Otherwise you'll have a very hard time fixing him.

[quote]I'm going to guess that he's built up on that side to hold me up, protect himself from my bad posture. My mare is similarly defensive on that side, though not physically imbalanced, mainly because I didn't ride her as much (read: had a baby, never get time to ride).
Good guess :)


On the exercises, should I do one side more than the other? Which? On which exercises? He can do them all, I just can't seem to wrap my brain around which is best to help that weak shoulder the most.

Thanks!
If you ride each exercise correctly - you are straight, you make him straight - then he will even out. You aren't necessarily going to gain more ground by working the bad side more. If you do them evenly, you'll be limited by the strength in his weaker side, so won't be able to do more. That keeps the over-developed side from developing more, and the lighter load in it will actually cause a little muscle shrinkage (which, if it's OVER-developed, is a good thing). The weaker side will be continually challenged, building muscle as time goes on. At some point they'll even out and you'll be doing more and more of each exercise to keep things even.

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 03:34 PM
JB, thanks. I am trimming his feet myself, so I get a good look at them ALL the time! :winkgrin: He's doing pretty well there. I have a mentor I work with on this, too, so when she has a chance she helps me see if I need to change something there.

I suppose I'm looking for the 'magic bullet' to fix it, not thinking that simple even work will do it. Maybe more consistent work :rolleyes: would help, if I could ever get consistent (quit RAINING on my only riding days already!!!!).....

It's alot of work to watch my posture, and watch his posture, and figure out what will help him....I do believe I am the culprit to his problem, so I will just get to work with him normally, then...

thanks! Any other suggestions are very welcome!

findeight
Apr. 21, 2009, 03:50 PM
I have had good luck solving all sorts of issues just trotting over poles on the ground in a grid in a straight line. Think, in fact know, we sometimes get too wrapped up in circles and bending and work too much in too small arenas. Makes the horses crooked and can make them very one sided-they all have a strong side and one less so that can be a little uncomfortable or give us more resistance-then we get lazy and work the good, comfortable way more.

Since this one is out of shape anyway, try just trotting alot in the longest, straightest lines you can-out of the ring is best. In a big field or something if you don't have a suitable trail.
If you are stuck in a ring, don't just go around the rail, use the diagonal to create a little longer track and change your direction there, not off a circle.

This kind of thing works and builds up both sides equally while letting them come forward naturally. I prefer it to isolating the weak side for more work which often can backfire on you as they lose strength in the other side or end up sore.

After he gets a little fitter and is staying relaxed, start adding poles on the ground about 6 or 7 feet apart-move them in or out as is comfortable, it does not matter. Start with 2 and add up to 4 more as he progresses. The poles make it impossible for him to favor one side over another and they also help them learn to track up behind using the back end a little better. You just sit there, don't do anything.

Try to set these up where you don't have to turn right into or out of them.

I have worked with a couple that had suffered injury at some point earlier in life and they also had a difference in the shoulder. This trotting straight lines and over poles in a straight line helped them enormously. Easy and cheap too.

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 03:54 PM
We have lots of straight line room here, I ride in my pasture ;) This I can do.....without him threatening to bite off my toe for working too hard :lol:

Thanks!

findeight
Apr. 21, 2009, 03:58 PM
That's great mel, try trotting back and forth over little logs as well as on uneven ground, uphill, downhill on the side of the hill. Doesn't have to be much of a slope to get the job done.

Let the trot, staying in a straight line and the terrain and a few obstacles like logs/poles do the work for you.;)

stormdancer753
Apr. 21, 2009, 04:01 PM
Can't offer a quick solution, but wanted to mention a horse that I rode for six awesome months. He is sweeter than the day is long, but not much intelligence lies between his ears. He had, at a young age, impaled his left shoulder on a t-post (not with me) . . . went in just shy of his heart. :eek:

I rode him several years later. We spent the majority of time doing slow, steady work. Yes, lots of bending, flexing, moving away from my leg. A little bit of conditioning on hills, as weather permitted and his fitness improved. However, it was more important to me that he be encouraged to maintain his balance laterally, far more so than a normal green horse. That included constantly encouraging very correct movement, holding a rhythm, moving towards self-carriage (not just a head position, a body carriage), etc.

At the beginning, he felt deformed. By the end of our six months, he felt like any normal horse (although a bit shy on physical talent). Mind you he was green, so this was not our sole objective. In the end, he could jump around a moderate course, find his distances, accept the rider's mistakes....

Hope my experience helps you and makes sense....

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 04:05 PM
sd753, makes sense. This horse acts deformed LOL

I'll ride him in a straight line, actively trying to get him to go straight, and he'll pop that right rib out on me everytime, fall onto that shoulder. I'll nudge him back (with a grumble and ears pinned at me) he'll be ok for a few steps, and pop it back out! :no: I know that nudging him to death isn't the answer, so I guess I simply need to get his attention off that issue by the pole work and more varied flats.

Thanks!

JB
Apr. 21, 2009, 04:38 PM
he'll pop that right rib out on me everytime, fall onto that shoulder. I'll nudge him back (with a grumble and ears pinned at me) he'll be ok for a few steps, and pop it back out! :no: I know that nudging him to death isn't the answer, so I guess I simply need to get his attention off that issue by the pole work and more varied flats.


If you're just saying "hey now, not nice to stick your rib in my leg, please put it back", then yes, you can nudge him to death :lol: Put spurs on and make him desire to never poke the spur with his ribs ;) Spurs are wonderful tools for the lateral issues.

And yes, you may have to remind him 800 times a ride, in the beginning, to not poke his ribs into your leg. He wants to carry himself crookedly because one side is stronger than the other. But you have to poke him back every time - it's not really a conscious thing he's doing when it's related to a stronger/weaker side.

As you start, with your next ride, on insisting that he be straight all the time, you may find that you have to shorten your rides to 20 minutes. YOU may hate that, but his weaker side may be so tired by then that any more will just be causing/asking him to go crooked.

Short and correct rides are far better, producing faster results, than longer rides with half of the ride being incorrect :)

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 04:45 PM
JB, I can't get my head around this. I would THINK if his right shoulder was stronger, he'd push to the LEFT, not the right, like he's doing? Or does pushing the rib to the right load his RF?

JB
Apr. 21, 2009, 05:35 PM
My best guess is that if his right shoulder is stronger, then his left hind is stronger - taking some of the work load the left shoulder isn't taking - making his RH weaker, therefore the combination of the stronger LH and weaker RH allows/causes his ribs to pop out.

Now that I say this - it may be that the original issue is/was with the LH, with the resulting compensation being the extra weight carried by the RF as the whole body bulges to the right to some degree.

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 05:43 PM
Hmm, supposedly he had a 'training accident' while being broken by a reining trainer in which he was forcing sliding stops and this horse fell on his right hip. He has always been very grumpy about having his RH picked up too long (being shod, trimmed, whatever), and I'd have to warn farriers not to fight him for it, because he would win...

Petstorejunkie
Apr. 21, 2009, 05:49 PM
It's not feet, but it COULD be because I have been riding unbalanced ever since I got him. I had a bad shoulder that I hunched over to the right to protect, even while walking or sitting, so you know I did the same on horseback.

Thanks!
Sweetie, you hit the nail on the head... don't focus on him, focus on YOU and he'll straighten himself out. I noticed this is in the HJ section, but an open minded dressage instructor willing to coach you on balanced seat would really REALLY do you wonders... take it from someone with scoliosis successful in dressage there is hope for getting everyone straight and balanced. :yes:

findeight
Apr. 21, 2009, 06:05 PM
Hmm, supposedly he had a 'training accident' while being broken by a reining trainer in which he was forcing sliding stops and this horse fell on his right hip. He has always been very grumpy about having his RH picked up too long (being shod, trimmed, whatever), and I'd have to warn farriers not to fight him for it, because he would win...

Hmmmm...sounds like the trouble started behind and may be the cause and the shoulder just a side effect.

Doesn't really matter. Getting him going squarely on all fours and allowing him the time to adjust and build back up. JB is right about short sessions too, you get more done when they are fresher and more willing then after too many repetitions or they start getting tired. Keep them from getting sore too.

Think the D lessons or any work with somebody who can make you aware of where your body is and the straightness of the horse under you is also excellent advice.

JB
Apr. 21, 2009, 06:18 PM
Hmmmm...sounds like the trouble started behind and may be the cause and the shoulder just a side effect.
:yes::yes:


Think the D lessons or any work with somebody who can make you aware of where your body is and the straightness of the horse under you is also excellent advice.
Absolutely. Being crooked for long enough makes it feel RIGHT, even though it's not. If you try to feel what being straight is like, it will feel very, very wrong. You need a good eye on the ground to tell you "yes, you are sitting up straight, NO, you are NOT leaning way over the left" LOL

You can start helping yourself a little though. If you know that you drop your right shoulder, practice dropping your left shoulder. You'll have to make a conscious effort, and might need to practice in front of a mirror in your bathroom for a little while, but if you can practice going wrong the other way, then the middle start to feel more correct than either extreme.

I rode for many years with my left hip forward. Felt perfectly normal to me! My wonderful new trainer pointed it out to me, and for a long time, when she told me I was straight, if felt like my left hip was *way* back.

Melelio
Apr. 21, 2009, 08:27 PM
Yep, I'm trying to save up for a few longe line lessons with a pro friend. I actually WANT the torture so she can help me feel center again...:lol:

BUt yes, I am very aware of what I'm doing with my shoulder/body now when I'm riding him and now I feel him bumping out with his rib MUCH more than before, since I'm no longer following it with my bad posture...

EquiTerra
Apr. 21, 2009, 10:14 PM
Work on doing any abduction/adduction with the horse's shoulder. This shouldn't be difficult to pinpoint since the only joints that can perform a significant degree of ab/adduction are the hips and shoulders of the horse. You can do this on the ground, getting the horse to cross in the front and yield to the pressure of your hand, or do things like leg yielding under saddle.