Haunch turns and reining spins? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-20-2011, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Arrow Haunch turns and reining spins?

How do you train your horse to do haunch turns? And spins? I'd like to learn some new methods :)
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-20-2011, 06:27 PM
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You have to establish very good shoulder control. This means that a horse has to move lightly and very quickly from your outside leg and inside rein.

You need to start riding a circle while going forward at a walk and gradually make the circle smaller and smaller. As the circle gets smaller, you 'bump' the horse on the outside and get it to gradually make a bigger circle with it front end than it is making with its back end. At this point, the horse's front legs will be crossing over each other.

As soon as the horse feels 'uncomfortable' to you, DO NOT put more pressure on it but ride it forward. As soon as you get resistance and the horse stops moving its shoulders freely (including crossing over in front), your going to lose your forward impulsion and the horse will back up (bad), start hopping (bad) or start crossing behind (really bad). In order to not have things to fix and undo later, always ride forward the second the shoulders quit moving over freely and work more on lateral obedience and lightness to your leg. Then go back to the small circles.

One other thing, when you start riding small circles (or any circles for that matter) the horse has to follow the directive given by the inside rein without resistance. You cannot get a horse to move its shoulders lightly if you have to maintain a 'pull' on the inside rein. You only bump the inside rein until you have the horse's nose where you want it. Then, it is pressure on the outside from your leg (also a bump and not a steady push) that makes him follow his nose.

As you make the small circles, you should keep a little inside leg on him to keep his bend and to keep him from 'falling' into his circles. This lets you have a way to signal to him that you want a spin and not a circle. You simply take that inside leg off of him and 'open' that door. A horse will not resnt a 'negative aid' ( ie taking the inside leg off) like it will resent an outside spur to initiate a spin. Horses soon get sick of that and start 'using' their tails and ears to show resistance.
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-21-2011, 01:04 AM
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This video does the best at explaining what to do and why. That said, there are other ways to teach it as well. Good luck.

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post #4 of 6 Old 05-21-2011, 04:16 PM
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The basics needed to train a horse to do a proper reining horse spin or a dressage turn on the haunches are very different. A turn on the haunches is sometimes used as a foundation skill needed for a spin but can be performed with your horse fairly straight because it is never performed with speed..

Here are the foundation skills needed to perform both

Turn on the haunches:

1/ horse must accept the riders hands and legs and allow you to keep the horses face and shoulders in alignment ( Alignment of the face and shoulders means that the horses face and their shoulders are on the same vertical plane even when we move the horses face left or right)

2/ your horse must allow you to move its face one direction or the other while traveling in a straight line without swinging its hips one way or the other. ( you need to develop separate control of the hips and shoulders)

3/ horse must be able to move it haunches laterally while keeping their face neck and shoulders straight while moving forward into contact and from leg pressure, (sometimes called a haunches in or a 2 track) requires riders legs to supply forward and lateral pressure at the same time.

4/ horse must be able to move it shoulders laterally without allowing the hips to move laterally, while moving forward into contact and from leg pressure, (sometimes called a shoulder in or a 2 track) requires riders legs to supply forward and lateral pressure at the same time

5/ Now you have enough control over your horses shoulders and hips and forward motion to train a haunches in.

Tips: do not allow your horse to bend or arc its face away from the lateral motion, (called a leg yield) as this is easy for the horse and to often riders think they have hip control by doing this but this does not develop the muscles or control needed for many more difficult maneuvers. A leg yield can be used if your horse resists moving laterally off your leg but until you can push the hip into the arc you are not going to have the control needed. I stress this as I see way to many people doing this leg yield at clinics and they wonder why they wonder why they can not move the hip around once they try to get the horse following its nose, it is also one of the main reasons you see horses backing into spins or swinging both ends like a coke bottle spin. You need to develop separate control over your horses shoulders and hips, a leg yield allows the hips to move when the shoulder is moved out of the way allowing the horse to move its hips without softening its ribcage.)

Reining horse spin requires all of the above foundation and then more:

6/ your horse must move forward into contact and round its back under your seat to allow the hind legs to reach deeper under and thus move their balance point forward this allows the shoulders to move freer, This is another very important part as if we can not push our horses forward and get extension of stride into contact we can not get them to collect. Extension and collection are both stride manipulation and extension is the easiest for the horse to learn (remember collection is a shortening of the frame and stride not just the stride) Extension is a lengthening of the stride not a speeding up this is made possible by getting our horses to soften their top-line into contact.

7/ Your horse must move its out side shoulder off indirect pressure from the out side rein when walking small circle

8/ your horse must move its inside shoulder off direct pressure from the inside rein when walking a small circle

9/ Your horse must be able to move its hips into the arc while going forward, think of pushing left hip to the left eye, and right hip to the right eye the more arc you can create while going forward ( half pass) or even in a circle counter arced the more control you have over shoulders and hips and the softer your horses top line will be. (Soft top lines allow for more cadenced foot work either laterally or forward)

Now you have the skills to start a turn around and I will use the small circle drill and establish a forward cadence into my hands with my legs and holding the horse in alignment with my hands, when I have the horse moving forward in the circle with a soft top line and the proper amount of arc I will stop asking for so much forward energy with my legs and ask for more lateral of the shoulders, if the horse loses all forward energy and wants to suck back or they stiffen to my hands I will re apply pressure with my legs until they soften and I re-establish forward energy. and repeat until I can get 3 or 4 really cadenced lateral steps with the shoulders then i will build on that by asking for the spin from the stand still but using all the same requirements of soft top-line forward energy etc.

Tips Forward energy and soft top-lines can be established on a horse at a stand still, it is only shortening the frame of the horse with a rounding of the back under your seat.

Once you have gotten this far in the process you as a rider will have had to develop rhythm with your hands and legs learned how to use each hand and each leg independently. You will be an effective rider that reacts properly to what the horse does without thinking.

One final note for anyone that wants to know why I say forward into contact is important with a reining horse,
A good reining horse has been developed to work from a level to round frame when ever asked. (If we want to teach our horses to use a round frame we have to use contact) A great reining horse has been developed to a point where the rider can change their frame with very light contact)
At my clinics one of the first things I explain is that first we make our horses soft then we teach them to work softly of light contact.

I have video's blog posts and articles on my coaching blog that go into all these progressions in more detail.Rod Miller PHD Professional

Above all else enjoy the journey that is training your own horse


Last edited by IPHDA; 05-21-2011 at 04:19 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-21-2011, 04:31 PM
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I start on the ground. I don't attempt to transfer pressure on the haunch or shoulder until it's firmly established on the ground, so that when I put pressure with a hand, crop, or hand motion, the horse will pivot that end away. Once this is perfected, transferring it to the saddle is pretty easy.

Lenox, my Perch, picked haunch turns up faster than any horse I've taught. We were at her first show, actually, and her first time neck reining in a curb bit. The Horsemanship pattern called for a haunch turn, so we went to the practice arena and I took up a nonallowing rein contact and put a heel behind the girth. Within 3 minutes, she had it down perfectly, on a loose rein, because of all the groundwork we'd done. The pattern ended up being cancelled, but it was great practice, in any case.

On the other hand, I trained Arthur from the ground for an entire spring and summer before he could do haunch and shoulder turns from pressure. But, again, transferring it to the saddle was easy because of groundwork.
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-21-2011, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! All great advice!!!
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