Monday, June 18, 2012

Spin Fix #13: Speeding Up the Spin

The problem: Horse will not spin faster when he is asked.
Why does this problem happen? If a horse will not speed up in the spin, he is either not correct enough to feel good about trying to spin faster or he does not “believe” the rider when asked for an increase in speed.
How to correct this problem: A horse must be able to spin correctly BEFORE he is asked to spin fast. If he is not comfortable turning around, he will not be willing to spin faster. If he’s schooled well in the basic spin – body aligned, responding to reins and legs – and he will start the spin quietly and turn almost on his own, then it’s time to ask for more.
Exercise: I “cluck” to ask for more. If I don’t feel an increase in speed, I bump with my leg. As soon as I feel him pick up the pace, I say “whoa” (that’s a reward) and release all body aids, then repeat. I want to instill in him right from the beginning that if he responds to my request for a faster turn around, he is rewarded. After only a few times, he will almost for sure spin faster with only a cluck. In a class, of course, I need four spins but if I have built my horse’s confidence by not asking too much in training and if he believes the voice command, he will be happy to spin until I ask him to shut down.

Exercise: I push my horse up in the bridle in a small circle, keeping him as straight as possible, until I feel him want to ‘find’the spin. Then I lower my hands, take my legs off of him, and ask. Usually he will gladly spin because the spin is more comfortable than the exercise.

Exercise: I let my horse spin a revolution or so, then pick up my reins to hold him straight and push him straight out of the spin – aggressively – stop him, settle him, and ask for spin again. After a few times, he will always try harder.

When I start teaching a horse to speed up his spin, I don’t try to accomplish everything in the first lesson. I push him a little more each day, always rewarding for his success. One thing that happens a lot is when a horse first tries to spin faster is that he might “hop” around. (See Spin With Cadence.) If that happens, I do not stop the spin when he is hopping; instead, I slow it down until he is stepping around again, then stop. It’s important to end the spin with correct movement.

Note: I don’t overdo fast spin schooling. Once my horse complies with my request, that’s all I want. If I concentrate more on schooling correctness, the speed will be easy! A reiner with a great spinning horse once told me his horse loved to spin fast because he had it figured out that the faster he did it, the faster it was over! That's what a good spin training program inspires - a horse that wants to spin.

Walking With Wolves

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