One shoulder bigger than the other in your horse?

crookedness Jul 10, 2023

Uneven shoulders is quite a common issue, as it relates to the horses naturally occurring crookedness pattern (their left or right handedness).

If you look along your horses back (from behind - if safe to do so!), with the horse standing square, you will be able to see their shoulders and whether they appear ‘even’ or not.

It’s often accepted as ‘that’s how they are’ etc…BUT did you know that you can actively work on this pattern and create much more even shoulders and therefore more even movement in your horse??

The left or right handed pattern in the horses body is natural for them, so unless it’s specifically targeted it will remain, and the horse will always move ‘crooked’.

Consider the grazing pattern in the horse, and it can be useful to actually watch your horse grazing to see this in action…you will see the horse ‘favour’ one forelimb, so more often choosing to place one forelimb forward, and the opposite forelimb backward, so a split stance. This becomes a consistent one sided pattern, continually placing the same forelimb forward and the same forelimb back/under the body, setting up a long term pattern in the limbs and therefore the body from the start of the horses life. And this is what creates the ‘stiff on one rein’ pattern.

One diagonal pair of limbs become more of a ‘prop’ for the horse, stronger but a bit stiffer and slower. And this is how we get the uneven shoulder pattern!

So what to do about it to improve your horse?

Mobilising and strengthening the thoracic sling is one of the big areas that we need to work on in the horses body, as it’s such a massive area of dysfunction within exercise (60% of the horses weight over the forehand).

Corrective core and in hand flexibility work to unpick your horses asymmetrical patterning in the body and limbs is the best way to address these imbalances for the horse…and it’s so much easier that you might think!

Teaching your horse to stand square and take their weight evenly, take the weight out of the forehand and correct backing up are some basic, important exercises that you could work on. Teaching your horse lateral exercises from the ground are also extremely useful ways to work on the pattern and train the limbs so they all function more equally...I have found this particularly effective in retraining horses crookedness patterns! 

Once we can train more flexible and symmetrical movement in the limbs and body, the shoulders function more evenly, and the horse can move more evenly, so we can eradicate the stiff on one rein / falling in onto inside shoulder scenario. 

I hope this helps to describe what might be going on with your horse!

If you would like my help with all of this work, you can get instant access to my online programme 'Strength & Straightness' with videos for ALL of the exercises that I use with horses, including my full in hand exercise system up to lateral exercises, core exercises, polework, massage, ridden exercises, rider pilates and much more! 

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS: Strength & Straightness online training

And as always, you can contact me via the CONTACT page here on my website if you need further help. 


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