The Difference Between a CowHorse Turnaround and a Spin

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The Difference Between a CowHorse Turnaround and a Spin

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    05-15-2014, 06:03 PM
The Difference Between a CowHorse Turnaround and a Spin

This is a fairly misunderstood topic in my opinion and one that causes a great deal of confusion. Horses make two distinct and proper turns on the hind end. While they may look similar they are actually fairly different at the core.

First off, we’ll talk about the spin, also called a pivot turn when done at the walk. To properly execute a pivot turn, the horse would plant the inside hind leg and cross-over, every single step, with the front end. A horse would make this type of turn in the Western Pleasure ring, Showmanship, and several other events. The problem with this type of turn, for a cowhorse, is that it is initiated through forward momentum.

For those of you who’ve seen or heard me talk about the “purposeful circle” exercise, this circle, when drawn down as tight as it can be, becomes a spin. Making it purposeful is what would help to give the initial spin some momentum, forward momentum. This method is widely viewed as a very sound and basic way to begin training a horse to spin. I use it extensively to help get a horse pulling harder with the front end, but I don’t frequently screw it down into a spin unless the horse will be going into reining. There is a bit more to fixing that pivot leg than this, but I don’t want to get into the spin in too much depth. Suffice it to say that, other than making sale horses look slick, and competing in reining, this is not a very practical turn for anything that I do in the Real World. Never seen a cow run around me that fast, anyway. If you get your cowhorse to work by pivoting around the inside hind, you’re just plain going to lose a lot of cows.

What I’m calling a cowhorse turnaround is the type of turn that I want my horses to make almost all of the time. In this type of turn, the horse will properly begin by leaning back, so as to begin with backward momentum. Then it will place it’s weigh on the outside hind leg, and hold it’s inside shoulder up and off of the cow, keeping it’s center of gravity farther away from the cow, and placing horse and rider in position to leave the turn in the correct lead. The horse may very well also initiate the turn by crossing behind on the front end. The front end stays way back off of the cow, with the hind legs very deep under the horse. The main core difference here is that, unlike the spin, the turnaround is initiated with backward momentum. This is what gives the cowhorse that characteristic “draw”. The inside hind will still be on the ground, and, it may look like this leg is integral to the turn, but in reality it bears very little of the horse’s weight until the turn is through and it takes the next step.

Let’s now think about a horse leaving the Turnaround. If a horse were to turn left and leave the turnaround straight into the lope, it would properly depart on the left lead. The left lead begins with the right hind, which would have been the outside or weight bearing leg in the turn. This is why turning around this way is so practical. A horse leaving a spin into a lope will frequently have to jump their hip over to do so or would have to leave in an arc rather than a straight line. Turning on the outside hind allows the turn to be executed without moving forward, getting closer to the cow, keeping the horse in a much better position to control the cow. As I know this may all be very difficult to visualize, look for a video on this topic very soon on our Youtube page. If you haven’t yet subscribed to that page, please check it out. We feel it has some good information and tastes a bit like peppermint!
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    05-15-2014, 06:07 PM
I totally forgot about doing this video. Will try to get on that soon.
    05-15-2014, 07:07 PM
Just as a point of clarification, in a typical cowhorse reining pattern, you want the spin to be a spin - so no leaning back on the HQ when spinning. The "cowhorse turnaround" I think you are talking about is what you want a horse to do while working the cow. It's not really a "turnaround", but is a turn on the cow (you turn at a max less than 180). When I show cowhorse, I'd get dinged (and do get dinged) if my horse leans back in the spin during the reining pattern.
    05-15-2014, 08:19 PM
Yes, a turnaround in reining speak is a rollback.
    05-15-2014, 10:22 PM
Super Moderator
A true 'roll-back' is a backing maneuver. The horse is rocked back on its hind end and steps BEHIND the inside front foot with the outside front foot. Then, the horse 'sweeps' around a full 180 degrees. Never more. When a cutting trainer trains a young horse, they back it into a roll-back, ask it to come around, back it again (it will back in sort of a circle) and come around again. They will do this several times warming up a horse before a training session or before going into the herd at a cutting contest.

The reason they back a horse into a roll-back rather than just doing 1/2 of a reining type spin is to 'give ground' to the cow. This lets them back slightly away from the cow so it cannot beat them back to the herd. One half of a reining turn-around or spin takes longer and does not let the horse go forward between the cow and the herd nearly as quickly as a roll-back does. If you try to hold a cow out of a herd with reining type roll-backs (1/2 spins) you would soon find yourself 'behind' the cow and losing it or 'feeding out' too much.

This concept of 'giving ground to the cow' is what big cutting round-pens are for. [Ours is 150 foot across.] As the cow goes around the fence on the round-pen, the horse learns to 'give ground' to the cow to keep from getting 'beat'. Then, before you take one to the shows, you have to work in a square pen so that the horse learns to travel a little straighter across the pen.

When I used to take flunk-out reiners and cutters to make cow horses and stock horses out of, the reiners could not hold a cow until they learned how to do a true roll-back. They just scrambled and were waaaay too slow to hold a cow with the reining turn-arounds.

On the other had, it took even longer to get the ex-cutters to do the forward moving spin. I had to start them all over on it teaching them to make the small circles with a lot of bend or they would fall into their spins and start backing up or hopping around and go back to placing their outside front foot behind their inside hid foot.

While the reining patterns call for a 'roll-back', almost all reiners just level out, move their hind feet back a little and do 1/2 of a spin instead of a true roll-back.
    05-15-2014, 11:13 PM
A couple of examples for a little more clarification -

Cow Horse Turnarounds with Buck Brannaman:
Compared to:

Reining Training Your Horse to Spin pt.1: Posted via Mobile Device
boots likes this.
    05-16-2014, 01:02 AM
I guess this must have been a sorry blog ...
    05-16-2014, 03:30 AM
Originally Posted by DanielDauphin    
I guess this must have been a sorry blog ...
Don't take it as a real indication of your writing ability man. It's clear that you do indeed posess valuable knowledge. Public recognition of one's creative efforts is always hit-or-miss, trial-and-error. I know I've written some things around here where I know people must've been thinking "wtf is this guy smoking" lol. Reminds me of this quote though, I think it's from an old Hindu text originally but it was used by Steven Pressfield in his book "The War of Art" to describe the experience of creating for the public. "We are entitled only to our labors, but not to the fruits of our labors".
Posted via Mobile Device
    05-16-2014, 09:23 AM
Super Moderator
I think the video of Buck is a really lousy example of a cutter/cowhorse turn-around. It is a hybrid cross of a reining turn-around and a backing without stepping behind. It actually shows a horse trying to do a reining type spin while the rider is not letting the horse have the forward movement he needs. I makes the horse switch his hind pivot foot and hop like I said would happen if the horse is not low in front, 'flat' and not keeping enough forward motion.

I found a video of Boyd Rice who I consider to be the best horseman and all around trainer out there today. If you have not heard of him, He has won the Snaffle Bit Futurity at Reno, the NCHA Super Stakes and Derby and this year won the 'World's Greatest Horseman' event. I think he has almost $4 million in earnings and is still in his 40s. He is pure poetry on a horse and I think his videos are great.

He is a short clip showing how to start backing a horse into a true rollback where the horse steps behind himself. He is doing the 'backing in a circle' that I talked about on this baby.

Here is his website -- Rice Performance Horses | Boyd Rice
    05-16-2014, 09:42 AM
Thanks for this thread.It really clarified the difference for me ! Very well explained.
DanielDauphin likes this.

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