Michigan 7 year old Paso Fino with professional training, ridden in  bosal, snaffle in  english and McClellan saddles in indoor arena , pasture by novice rider.

Question: My mare had some good foundation training when she was around 2 yrs. old.  She had been sitting in a barn for 2 1/2 yrs with no work when I bought her in May 2000.  We have been working on her balance, muscle tone, etc since she was in very poor shape.  She carries her head fairly high when gaiting but really drops it down when asked to turn.  The tighter the turn, the lower her head drops it seems.  Is this normal or is it due to poor muscle tone/flexing?

From Panelist Lee

I would think that if she is dropping her head you are allowing her to drop
it.  It is virtually impossible for a horse to do this if ridden in contact
with waist level hands.  Are you keeping steady contact with her mouth?  If
not, try doing that and see if it helps.

How sharp are your turns?  If you are asking for really abrupt turns, she is
probably not ready to do them, and may be lowering her head as a defense
mechanism. Sharp turns in gait are not easy for a horse, and take a lot of
conditioning before they can be correctly done.  Work on getting her in
shape on really large circles before you try sharp turns.  Give her some
time to get in shape, and give her some support by riding with contact and
the head dropping may soon disappear.

Good luck.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Terry

This is not normal she is more than likely dropping her inside shoulder in the turns. A good turn a horse will lift and move there inside shoulder and then follow with the outside shoulder. In a poor turn a horse will drop there inside shoulder and come across with the outside shoulder then follow with the inside shoulder. 

This is not a major problem to fix when you ask for a turn use your inside line as usual but now use just a little bit of pressure on the out side line this will help her to move the inside shoulder first, but be careful not to neck rein that will have a tendency to lower the carriage.

Terry Whaples

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