Checklist: Are You Causing Your Horse to Drop His Shoulders?

What could you be doing wrong to cause your horse to drop his shoulders through the turn? My pet peeve is a horse that drops his shoulders through the turn. Some guys don’t mind it but, for me, when my horse drops his shoulders, I cannot take my first shot and my finish will not be fast enough because the horse is getting pulled forward because he’s not working on his hind end. That matters in both the futurities and the rodeos—judges are looking for horses strong to the horn and flaggers stop the clock when the run comes together fast on the horse’s hind end.

Point 1

1) One big cause of my horse dropping his shoulders to the inside could be me leaning too far forward with my shoulders. That puts my weight on his front end, disengaging his back end and causing him to put his weight on his front end.

 

Point 2

2) Another reason could be that I’m not riding my horse square. That could mean my hips are twisted, and I’m not pushing him forward enough through my seat and my feet. My feet and my hands and my body all need to be working together to drive my horse up underneath himself. If I’m using one side more than the other or one tool more than the other, I could be creating the problem.

Point 3

3) My horse could also be dropping his shoulders because I’m anticipating the steer’s turn too much and pushing him into the corner too soon. I like to keep my horse free and moving down the arena until the steer completely turns. I don’t want my horse cutting to the inside trying to get to the cow before the run calls for it.

Point 4

4) When you know what problem you’re experiencing, you can address it on the Smarty. Slow the situation down to get you and your horse working good again. I keep the Smarty slow, going in small circles and focusing on using my feet and my hands and my seat correctly to build my confidence and my horse’s confidence. I use the Smarty to get to know my horses and to predict what’s going to happen in every situation, so I can control as many variables as possible.

Point 5

5) Before I rope, I spend a lot of time flexing my horses. I want them to be riding around collected, with their hind ends under their bellies before we rope. I reinforce that so they don’t feel flat at all during the run. TRJ