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Feeding Position and Shoulder Asymmetry

Many horses have one shoulder larger than the other and it can a huge contributor to saddle slip!

Many people rely on the use of a balance strap (an extra girth strap at the back of the saddle) to fix the issue but when slipping is caused by asymmetric shoulders the balance strap may not be the best remedy and can in fact cause more problems than it solves.

IASF Course Director Lisa Fay says “When one shoulder is larger the saddle is often pushed diagonally by the bigger shoulder. Using a balance strap anchors the saddle into the shoulder and while it may temporarily solve the slipping it often restricts the larger shoulder and may cause more serious problems later down the line”.

So how do we fix this issue?

Your saddle fitter will take the shape and movement pattern of you and your horse into account and will know how to find a suitable short-term solution; but the best course of action is to improve the horses' symmetry.

One thing you as a horse owner can do to help your horse even out is to look at their feeding position.

We all know that feeding from a high hay net has a

negative effect on the horses back health and many owners now chose to feed roughage from the ground. Ground feeding is fantastic for the horse as it mimics their natural grazing posture but if your horse has asymmetric shoulders it may be worth considering a slightly different option.

When horses graze from the ground they will always have their favoured front leg (usually the one with the larger shoulder) in front of the weaker leg. The shoulder of the front leg then gets bigger and stronger – not great if we’re trying to strengthen and grown the opposite shoulder.

Whereas changing the feeding position to mid-height can really help to straighten up those shoulders. When the roughage is fed from a slightly higher position the horse will usually square up in front loading both shoulders evenly.

Winter is a great time to implement this change as many horses (even those who are field kept) spend a lot of their time munching hay or haylage. By altering the feeding position you can help your horse to load his forelimbs more evenly and help combat the shoulder asymmetry.

It is important to discuss any changes with your equine management team so your vet, physio, saddle fitter, farrier etc as it will have an impact on all areas and may not be suitable for your horse.

Also consider the safety aspect, a normal hay net may cause a hazard if it is tied too low so it is important to find a safe and suitable method for feeding at mid height. Products such as NoseBagz are a great option Horse Hay Feeder | NoseBagz | Equestrian products

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