Head Up Technique on Shoulder


This article is the third of three.  As we said last week, there are three ways to do the Head Up Techniques:


a) Chin Lift (Hands Under Chin)

b) Head in Arm

c) Head on Shoulder


This week we will work on c) Head Up on Shoulder


This is the third position for the Head Up Technique. Although this is the position that everybody loves, if the horse isn’t totally relaxed in this position then it isn’t working. It’s important to pay attention to the horse’s relaxation and comfort in whatever position you use.


The best way to do this is to start with a) Chin Lift (Hands Under Chin) Technique, get the horse relaxed there, then go to b) Head Up in Arm, and if the horse is relaxed there then move to c) his head onto your shoulder.


Follow the same Step by Step Instructions as with Head Up in Arm (last Friday).


–      Once there, when (if) the horse is relaxed and has the weight of his Head in Your Arm, then bend your knees and slide your shoulder under his chin. Do not straighten your legs right away. The idea here is not to lift his chin up to your shoulder, but to bring your shoulder down to the level of his chin.


–      Once there, slowly straighten your legs, lifting the head until you feel the weight of his head on your shoulder or he blinks. Stop there, and wait for the horse to get heavier before straightening your legs to bring his head higher. If your legs are still bent at this point and this position is too uncomfortable for you, then go back to the Head in Arm and get the horse more relaxed there before moving to the shoulder.


The four things you can do once the horse has relaxed the weight of his head onto your arm or shoulder are:


1) Nothing, just allowing the horse to relax this junction is HUGE.


2) Massage the muscles behind the poll.


3 Slowly move the head through a gentle range of motion in a relaxed state, by bending and straightening your legs, and moving side to side.


4) Search for the blink.




–      If you lift too high or too quickly the horse will tense. The goal is to allow the weight of his head to settle into your hand.


–      Keep both arms and both hands soft and relaxed.


Review last week’s Educational Friday for more notes and tips on how to successfully get to this point.