February 11, 2016
Better Spins With One Simple Exercise
Whether your horse is just beginning to learn the spin, or he is seasoned spinning veteran, this easy to execute exercise will help him perform better.
Many believe the spin can be viewed as a small circle taken all the way down to a pivot. In other words, when walking a small circle, the rider winds the circle down, smaller and smaller, until the horse is piviting around its hind end. It is very important the horse already has a good understanding of how to move away from leg pressure as well as knowing how to follow its head when cued by the bridle reins.
I have found this to be a key exercise when teaching a young horse what the spin is all about. It really helps plant the idea in their head that the front end has to move around the hind end. In many cases, this will help your steed to start crossing over in front.
Also, this exercise will help a trainer avoid pitfalls when teaching the spin. I’ve seen many riders try to push and pull their horse into this maneuver without the horse really understanding what is wanted from him. The horse then gets frustrated and either quits, learns incorrectly, or worse yet, learns to fight.
When trying this on a baby, make sure you don’t ask for too much too soon. As in all aspects of training, keep it simple. The first weeks or so, depending on the horse’s aptitude, just get a couple steps – barely a half turn. Once he feels confident here, move to another step. If he gets lost or confused, take him out right away and walk the small circle again. I think it’s important to keep his feet moving. In no time at all, you’ll feel him not just looking to step into a spin, but actually wanting to. And that’s the key to good training- MAKE THE HORSE WANT TO EXECUTE THE MANEUVER.
With older show horses, sometimes their footwork slows down or gets sloppy. They may even feel as if they’re bracing against the cue. This exercise will often free up their shoulders and improve their footwork by taking the “stress” out of the turn-around. This also gives you, the rider, a different approach to working on the turn. It keeps an element of freshness to the ride so your partner doesn’t get bored or annoyed by doing the same thing everyday.
This is one of many turn exercises and is most effective when used in conjunction with others. Remember, whether it’s a green horse or a war horse, take your time and wait until the maneuver is his idea. The whole point is to create a better understanding in your partner as to what is wanted of him.
Finally, done too much, this can cause a horse to “hang” his outside shoulder. Don’t worry. This is mostly designed to get the front end moving freely. If that shoulder is stuck out there, other exercises can help straighten him out. A lot of times, tickling the outside rein and adding a little more leg fixes that right away.
Check out this exercise here –