Monday, June 4, 2012

Spin Fix #12: Improving Front Leg Cross-Over

The problem: Horse hits himself when he spins or crosses behind.

Why does this problem happen?
1. The horse lacks forward motion (Yes, there is forward motion in the spin!) If he is sucking back, there is just no way he can cross over in front.
2. The horse steps directly to the side instead of stepping back.
3. The rider is pulling too much on the reins.

How to correct this problem: If my horse is hitting himself, I concentrate on getting forward motion in the spin which means pushing him out of the spin many, many times. All the basic rules for a turn around apply, of course, but I only turn maybe one turn (sit down, inside leg off, light outside rein contact against neck, wide opening inside rein, outside leg if needed). When he has completed one turn, I push him forward with both legs for a few steps, then ask for a turn around again. As soon as I feel him sucking back I push him out of it again, etc. If he has forward motion but is hitting himself because he is not bringing the inside leg back, I work on that by 'helping' him place that leg. I might have to break the spin down to a very basic level to fix it.

Splint boots are mandatory!

Note: When a horse hits himself in a spin (instead of stepping over the inside leg with the outside leg), he can hurt himself which, in turn, makes him not want to spin – kind of counter-productive! Also, he will never spin fast if he is hitting himself – he can actually get tangled up. A correct spin will begin with a step to the inside and back a bit (out of the way of the outside leg), and the outside leg crossing in front of the inside. I work on this before I worry about locking down on a pivot foot when I train the spin. If I spend time with this part of the spin, my horse is comfortable and the rest will take care of itself with time.

An example of  a horse stepping over his inside leg in a spin.

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