Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spin Fix #1: Step With Cadence

Problem: Horse hops or bounces when he spins instead of stepping around.

Why does this problem happen? Usually the horse has not been well enough schooled in basics but the reason might also be that the rider is concentrating too much on the pivot foot and, in a effort to encourage the horse to ‘plant’ the inside hind foot, restricts the horse with rein pressure.

How to correct this problem: If my horse wants to hop instead of stepping around in a spin, I go back to basics for a while. There’s no use practicing something wrong. I spend lots of time encouraging the horse to cross his outside front leg over the inside front with half-turns, paying particular attention to my rider aids (soft outside asking rein, give-and-take inside rein) and where he places his front feet. The first step with the inside should be to the side and back. If it isn’t, it will be in the way when he tries to step over it with his outside. When he can turn slowly and correctly, I gradually increase the speed.

Note: I am mindful of the fact that a horse may “hop” the first times he is asked in training to increase speed in a turn-around, a reaction to the increased pressure. It’s very important at this stage not to reward him for hopping by ending the spin when he is hopping. Instead, I allow him to slow down until he is stepping around again and then say “whoa”. I always finish with correct turn-arounds.

Running With Wolves "stepping" into a spin. Notice inside front leg stepping to the side and back.
I've always said a book could be written about spins alone because there are so many things that can go wrong. This post is the first in a series about some my "fixes" for spin problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment