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Old 04-21-2013, 04:22 PM   #1
Cattleman
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Default Teaching a horse to spin

I was working with a horse yesterday while someone was watching. They said that I was cueing the horse to spin incorrectly. This was a young horse that has just started to spin and I was working on refining it. I haven't spent much time in my life in an arena so I am not the best at reining spins. How do you cue your horse to spin? And how do you add life to the spin?
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:01 PM   #2
flyingcollie
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Seems to me your observer may have been awful quick to criticize a green horse. I guess a real "hand" could get a clean, accurate spin pretty soon, but most of us have to start the horse in learning a new maneuver, not expecting instant perfection, but building on consecutive small successes, to eventually refine it.

I'd say a spin depends on building other skills, such as working from the hock, being supple laterally, and light on a neck-rein. To cue a spin, I want to see the horse's eye on the inside, and ask him to move away from the outside rein, maybe support him ("lead" him ?) with the inside rein if necessary, and encourage him to keep his shoulders moving by giving him some outside leg if he gets "sticky".
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Old 04-22-2013, 07:35 PM   #3
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You really can't learn this stuff from reading about it. If the someone watching knew so much, then why couldn't he tell you how to do it better? Best thing to do is to find someone who rides or spins a horse the way you would like, and imitate what they do, if you can, and ride with that person.
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:38 AM   #4
flyingcollie
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Jimmy, you're 100% right. Only way to learn is by doing, but good instruction depends on a good example.

Kinda frustrates me, though, because otherwise, why do we visit this forum ? I think you can pick up insights from posts here, I sure have in the past, more than a few from yourself. Thank you !
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:15 PM   #5
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People often ask, what is the cue for such and such? Well, it's not like there's a button to push for spin, or a button for stop, or go , or anything like that.
A cue is a learned response that is a combination of things that come out of a consistent position, the deliverance, and the timing and the follow through. So it would be better for someone to ask: what is the position for a spin? How do I set my horse up for a spin? You see, it is really about asking the right questions to start with.
There are a whole lot of things that have to be established and built on to get any particular movement from a horse. Little bits and pieces of theses things can be suggested to the horse even from the very first ride. But to know where you are going, it helps if you've been there a time or two.
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:21 PM   #6
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I will take a bite on this one. There are a few ways to cue a horse to spin, and sometimes as with everything it can depend on the way the horse responds. But there are a few fundamental things to know about the spin that can help in knowing how to cue the horse. Also knowing the cues doesn't help if you don't know the actions that the horse is supposed to do, so that is what we will talk about first.

In a spin there are a few things going on, it really is quite simple. Starting with the hind end of the horse, there is an inside pivot leg. (If you are turning to the right, it is the right hind foot) And there is an outside power leg. As a rider you need to know how the horse is using his hind legs to get impulsion and a more crisp turn. Pay attention to his inside pivot leg, keep him from rocking or sucking back on this leg. If a horse is rocked back on his pivot leg he isn't using his driving leg properly. This will result in a slow sloppy turn. Almost all of the power in the spin should come from the outside driving leg.

Now moving up to the front end, the front legs need to be free, there is not much power in them. They act more like wheels creating direction for the motion of the back legs. Keep them light and allow them to cross over. There are two feet in the front, if you are doing a right spin the right foot becomes the "lead foot." The horse must move it out of the way to allow the other one to come through. The farther/deeper the horse steps that lead foot to the right the cleaner the spin will be. Don't push the horse over, he will become dull and mushy in spins. Instead teach him to step over and deep with the lead foot.

Once the feet are moving over freely then you can work on the shoulders. Cue the shoulders to move over with a change in your seat position, this could be a movement in your leg, a touch of the spur, lifting your own ribs. Also remember to lift the reins, don't pull back on them. This will help the horse work his shoulder and keep the impulsion from the hind end. It is important to keep the forward motion in the spin. You don't block him with the reins, keep him moving forward freely. This will keep his front end light, on the right pivot foot, and if you block the forward motion you will also be shutting down his lead foot. Instead of shutting down the lead foot, direct it.

I see too many riders today that plant the front end and kick the hind end out of gear. This doesn't lead to a nice free spin. The hind end needs to be very engaged in the spin. Keep it up underneath the horse and teach the horse to drive with that power leg. Another thing is you will never push a horse around in the spin, never pull steady on the reins. Direct him, and allow him to move. Keeping your reins and cues light will keep your horse light. Direct, let him work a few steps, and direct again. Again don't push or force a horse around in any maneuver. I like to work on doing a lot of half turns with the horse driving out of it, then the spin becomes a very natural light transition.

Just a few basic thoughts that should help off the top of my head that should help. Now the trick is putting it all together, know where the horses feet are, keep him on the pivot and driving with the outside leg. Front end free, don't block him with your reins, and cue the shoulders.
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:58 AM   #7
Corry
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Great post! Very logical and helpful. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baquero View Post
Pay attention to his inside pivot leg, keep him from rocking or sucking back on this leg. If a horse is rocked back on his pivot leg he isn't using his driving leg properly.
I know many trainers who use a lot of backup in connection with spin training. I was also taught to do so. I assume you would not do that? What kind of preliminary exercises do you use to prepare the horse for spin training?
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry View Post
Great post! Very logical and helpful. Thank you.



I know many trainers who use a lot of backup in connection with spin training. I was also taught to do so. I assume you would not do that? What kind of preliminary exercises do you use to prepare the horse for spin training?
There is a fine line in incorporating the backup. I don't like to encourage it, most of the time when a person is using the backup it is because the horse isn't engaging its hind end enough. I like to get a horse rounded up and working the hind quarters before I start working on a spin. I don't use the backup much when teaching the spin, I want them to be able to work a spin without backing up. In some patterns you are required to back up six steps then perform a spin, others the spin comes after the stop. Because of this I don't want a horse to rely on rocking back into a backup and spinning, instead I want it to work freely and know how to engage the hind end with power. But there are times when working a horse that he needs to back up a bit in order to position himself. Like I said there is a fine line of where that pivot leg should be. Lots of people get it too far underneath the horse and then are frustrated when they don't have life in the spin. Where those hind legs are positioned really sets everything up. I have to run now but will have to see if I can find some pictures to illustrate what I am talking about tomorrow.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baquero View Post
There is a fine line in incorporating the backup. I don't like to encourage it, most of the time when a person is using the backup it is because the horse isn't engaging its hind end enough. I like to get a horse rounded up and working the hind quarters before I start working on a spin. I don't use the backup much when teaching the spin, I want them to be able to work a spin without backing up. In some patterns you are required to back up six steps then perform a spin, others the spin comes after the stop. Because of this I don't want a horse to rely on rocking back into a backup and spinning, instead I want it to work freely and know how to engage the hind end with power. But there are times when working a horse that he needs to back up a bit in order to position himself. Like I said there is a fine line of where that pivot leg should be. Lots of people get it too far underneath the horse and then are frustrated when they don't have life in the spin. Where those hind legs are positioned really sets everything up. I have to run now but will have to see if I can find some pictures to illustrate what I am talking about tomorrow.
I know what you mean and I know how that lack of life feels. You address all the aspects I'm pondering over. None of the trainers I worked with so far explained it the way you do, but your way seems to be what I'm looking for. Thank you for taking the time to explain. I'd appreciate it very much if you could find the pictures and post them

What do you do to foster the thrust of the outside hind leg in the spin? I tried to do only a few steps in the turn and than leave the spin and ride a circle or trot a straight line. But that is not as effective as I hoped it to be.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:53 PM   #10
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If you have lost thrust, or back into a turn around too much, I will offer this. Don't worry so much about the pivot foot. Get your horse moving his front end around fluidly and with some life. You can let the hind end step forward, as in letting a very small circle happen, as long as you are not letting the hind end swing out. By letting the hind feet step forward, you will avoid them swinging out or sideways, and loosing the hind end all together. Too much concern about getting that pivot foot every time picture perfect is what in my opinion gets these horses bogged down. Think more about the front end, and the hind end will take care of itself. In some cases.
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