SHOULDERS BACK! Here’s how to never hear that again

This might be something you’ve heard before….as in a million times?


? I put them back, but they never stay put!  

? I hold them in place only to PLUCK in the saddle and jerk my horse in the mouth!

? I do arm rolls on the unge line, trot around with one arm up then the other…yeh this helps, but I always go back to square one…

? Shoulders BACK! Now a million + one times. It’s SO FRUSTRATING… I could just SCREAM!

What’s the deal?

How can something so seemingly simple be so utterly impossible!

The answer is this:  

Your shoulders aren’t the problem, they’re a symptom of a problem.

Here’s what I mean…

Think back to when you were a kid, blazing as fast as you can down a hill. ???

What happened when your shoulders got ahead of you?  

You’d do a face plant.

What happened when your shoulders got behind you?  

You’d fall on your butt.

Now, visualize

How your shoulders are when you’re in the saddle…

Take them to the top of the hill and start running…

What would happen?

Would you wipe out?

If so, here’s how this childhood game translates to your riding.  Either…

??  You grip to stay on…

throwing your horse off balance (an unbalanced horse doesn’t fall down, he falls forward onto the forehand)

causing your horse to stumble, surge forward to ‘catch’ his balance, lose confidence in you and may even stop moving forward for you at all.


?? You fall off.

This is the reason your shoulders don’t stay back…

Your shoulders aren’t the problem, they’re a symptom of a balance problem.

Yup, that’s right!  

Your uncooperative shoulders aren’t about your ability to ride or having a good seat.

They’re about your survival.

Here’s why…

#1 job your balance system has is to keep you from falling…  

Because falling makes you vulnerable to things like life threatening injury, easy prey for a tiger…

So it does whatever it has to do to keep you upright…

And that means it reverts to the balance you have right now – rounded shoulders and all.

Before I share about how to resolve this, let’s take a moment to understand how all this came about.

How did you go from that kid who could tear down a hill to an adult who is locked into a frozen shoulders forward, unproductive position?

Long hours and the computer juts your head forward taking your shoulders with it so you tighten to keep from falling forward…

Or maybe…

It started with a limp from a sprained ankle with your shoulders held tight as part of the reaction to the injury…

Or maybe…

You just got out of alignment.  This can happen as we age.

Either way, what started almost imperceptibly ended in a frustrating, tension filled balance habit.

So what to do about this now so you can leave this ‘shoulders back’ business behind you once and for all?

Offer your survival instinct a new & better balance.

One that allows your shoulders to glide back and stay there happily.

Here’s how to do that…

?  Gratitude – Say a big thank you to your balance.  It may not have been the balance you want, but it has kept you alive & it has worked hard under stressful situations to do so.  Thank you.

? Release – Give your your current balance a kiss and let it know that it can retire now because you’ve found an easier way.

? Embrace the possible…

Stop focusing on just one part of you (your shoulders)

And start focusing on how you work as a whole person


Relearn how your shoulders synchronize with your hips and pelvis???

Because when your lower body supports your upper body you recreate a natural, productive balance system…

Then and only then can your shoulders slide back and stay there…

And you become soft and centered on your horse (and running down a hill).

Problem solved.

Frustration ends.


But there is a deeper level still…  

One that goes beyond your love of riding…

And gets to the heart of your horse love…

When you are soft and centered your balance is improved.

Better balance makes you safer.

When your survival instincts feel safer you feel calmer.

Calm lets you ride and breathe at the same time…

This says to your horse that he is safe…

And then, and only then is, a connection to your horse available ?.

This is the power of shifting from an isolation approach (shoulders back is the problem), to a whole rider approach (distinguishing a symptom of a problem from the real problem).


What do you make of what I’ve shared?  Would love to hear.


Successful Woman Rider Wednesday – 

Shoulders back – 

Revisit blog with skeleton

Visualize kid running down hill.

Experience – have them come toward screen, at what point do they notice effort to keep from falling forward?  Stay there, now shoulders back? Can you do it? Are you breathing?

What would happen on your horse?  

This is why ‘shoulders back’ doesn’t work,  that’s why it will never work – proof is if it did no on would be struggle with it, where basically everyone is…so I’m here to tell you, it’s not you, you are not alone.

So what to do? 

The shift from thinking of yourself in pieces, ie. shoulders back to its a balance problem.

The less you work as a system meaning the greater the disconnect between your shoulders and hips the more unbalanced you are.

This is why ‘shoulders back’ will never work.

The switch is to appreciate how you work as a system.  Kid running down hill in balance.

Shoulders balance over the pelvis and hips, they function together for a synchronized balance.

The more you work as a system meaning the pelvis and hips offer a home for the shoulders to rest in as you ride, run down a hill…the more balanced you are.

Share THis


 Heather Beachum

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Heather Beachum for Ride In The Moment

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Riding well in a mature body is the fine art of doing less.

Riding well in a mature body is the fine art of doing less sooner.