March 15, 2016
Spin to Win
Side-Pass The Box
Another way to consider what a horse is doing when spinning is: The horse is side-passing at the trot with their front legs while rocking back on their hocks. That is to say, the horse should be crossing one front leg over the other with every step while drawing a small triangle with its inside hind foot.
For most horses, the proper frame when spinning requires that it be fairly straight from its withers to its tailbone. The neck should be slightly arced to the inside, just enough so that if the rider were to look down, he/she could see the inside eye or at least the eye lashes of the animal. If the horse bends too much into the turn, its outside shoulder and rib cage won’t engage enough and the quality and speed of the turn will suffer. This is also true if the horse is looking to the outside of the spin as well. In this case, the inside shoulder will usually block the outside leg from stepping across in a fluid manner, and the turn will look poor.
A great exercise to improve proper spinning form is to side-pass a box. In your mind’s eye, draw around an eight to ten foot square box in the sand and leg yield along its edges. Make each end a crisp 90-degree turn. Don’t worry about any speed; just make it as correct as you can. You’re just trying to create a habit in how your horse crosses over.
After effectively completing several boxes, you can allow your horse to collapse down into the spin and then push him back out into the exercise. You have to be horseman/trainer enough to recognize what your four-legged partner is thinking. If he’s struggling with moving off the leg, slow it down and take him back to a basic side pass and stop and rest. This might be true if he begins anticipating the turn as well – you may want to stick to a straight line. Also, you don’t have to push him into this for hours. Just work on it a few times each day until his footwork improves. As with all training, sometimes it takes several days to really notice improvement. Be patient and focused.