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round pen

> I have a horse with uneven shoulders ( when viewed from behind or
>while riding) possibly due to a club foot and one with  no heel. We 
>are working on making the feet even with wedge pads and bar shoe. 
>Could I use the round pen to strengthen the  weak shoulder???  which
>direction would strengthen which side??

Hi Sandy:

I have a horse that had that same problem.  It was actually my fault,
caused by the farrier (I'm still responsible for not knowing any better).
Boy have I learned a lot about horses feet since then. Anyway....the horse
had underslung heels and long toes, which caused him to stand bearing most
of his weight on one front foot.  This caused, over time, him to develope
one side more than the other. The other side was so week in fact that he
could not canter in a circle in the direction of the weak side. (he would
always use the outside lead)  

My trainer had me work the horse equally in both directions.  She said that
working one more than the other to try to build up the weak side first
could end up causing the same problem in reverse.  It took several weeks
before I could even get him to canter on a longe line in both directions.
We spent several more weeks of work and it still took months before I could
get him to do it with a rider on his back.  One interesting point - I could
ride this horse 50 miles and he would be perfectly fine, not sore at all.
One dressage lesson lasting 30 minutes where I would ask him to canter both
directions and he would be *really* sore afterwards.  When I first started
riding him in a Sports Saddle, I would drop off to the side (on the
underdeveloped side).  I was able to easily compensate for that by raising
the stirrup higher on that side, and over time have been able to lower it
so we are now even and I don't feel like I am dropping off.  You could tell
with him that he was a lot more developed on one side - this was clear from
the front, rear, sides, etc.  I would say that it took at least two years
to work thru this, and don't know if he is completely even now.  But we'll
keep working on it - posting evenly on both diagonls and cantering on both

One word of caution - be very careful when proceeding with this type of
work.  I was very careful with my horse because I knew of all the
additional stress caused on his tendons and joints from the foot problems.
I spent an extra year doing ground work with him, and ponied him a lot.  

I don't have a round pen, but did all the work on a really long longe line
or else in a really large arena.

Happy Trails,

in Gardnerville, NV where it's currently -7 degrees....brrrrrr
& Rocky, 850 miles and mostly even but hardly ever straight!
& Weaver, 2,455 miles and 'on vacation'  :))

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