Speeding up the Spin
I love reining, and decided that I want to persue it. I have tought my horse to spin, but he brings his head up when I ask him to speed it up. I ask him by barely touching him with my spurs, he speeds up, but his head comes up also. How do I help him keep his head down? I won't use a tie down, I would rather take the time it takes to help him learn to use his body more efficiently. How do I teach him to spin quickly, while keeping his head relaxed?
Thank you all for your time and help!
I see this a lot with beginners and their reining horses. Are you pulling back on your reins at all? Sometimes if you have too much rein contact a horse will throw his head. This may or may not be the case with you. I know my little filly does this with even the tiniest touch of the rein on the bitwhile she's spinning.
A reining horse has to accept the rider asking it to give its face. You cannot teach much on a loose rein. The horse has to tuck its chin and 'step up into' the bridle when asked instead of backing away from the bit.
I would guess that these horses have not received enough preparation to spin correctly. The proper preparation includes taking the horse into small circles with its head down and tucked, its nose to the inside and the circle becoming ever smaller. This teaches the horse to NOT resist the bit, to move forward into the bit and to cross over as the circle tightens.
A rider may have to roll a spur (not jab or poke) into the horse's ribs when the circle first tightens, but one should never ask for more speed or a smaller circle until the horse willingly stays on the size circle that it is doing without a spur. As circle become smaller and smaller without spur pressure, the horse is getting ready for more speed and for the circle to tighten up into a spin.
While the horse is walking up into the bit and doing the small circles, the rider keeps BOTH legs on the horse to keep good forward movement. This is important, because the signal for the horse to turn around is going to be the rider taking that inside leg off of him.
The very first turn-arounds should be initiated by:
1) the rider dropping the inside leg off of the horse
2) tightening the outside rein slightly to halt walking forward
3) rolling the outside spur into the horse's ribs
4) smooching (this will later replace the spur altogether
If a horse is properly prepared for this maneuver, they actually try to stop and turn around before you want them to. I never let this happen and always trot a horse straight forward if they try to stall out and initiate a turn-around on their own. Then I go back o walking the small circles.
The first turn-arounds should only be a step or two and then the rider should walk or trot the horse forward out of it. You always stop the turn-around before the horse loses form or before you have to push it harder.
If you always smooch when you ask, pretty quickly this becomes the que and you avoid the resentment and switchey tail that comes from a horse associating a turn-around with a spur.
The turn-around is all about shoulder control. You do not 'hold' the horse's back end still with the outside leg or spur. The pivot foot takes care of itself when the shoulders are moving freely.
Hope this helps.
I agree with Cheri comments and am only going to add a couple things, Shoulder control for spins or circles comes from having your horse soft through the top line that allows them to soften in their whithers and hips allowing them to move their shoulders laterally and drive forward with their hind end.
To develop a cadence to the spin you need to have your horse moving his inside front foot ( inside shoulder) off your inside rein and the out side foot (outside shoulder) off the outside rein and your legs supplying forward motion into your hands so the horse rounds their back under your seat and does not just elevate its shoulders by rounding at the loins.
Once the horse is stepping around with cadence you can add speed by first increasing the rhythm you are asking their shoulders to move with your hands, I try not to push them faster with my outside leg because this has a tendency to stiffen the inside rib cage (you can not push a rib cage laterally the hips and shoulders move laterally the rib cage will move vertically and can stiffens or soften to allow or impede lateral motion of the hips and shoulders.)
If our horses resist moving their shoulders off our hands I find that using both legs with a little more pressure on the outside leg helps the horse to soften its rib cage and round vertically and allows the shoulders to move more freely.
So my advice for improving cadence in the spin is to make sure you can walk and trot small perfect circles ( small and perfect are the main word here as a perfect circle requires a horse to be in a round frame and have their shoulders and hips moving laterally and their top line soft with the back round under your seat, and small requires more of all of the above)
Good luck and enjoy the journey of training your own horse.
This is some excellent advice! You guys should write a book :P
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