Q. We have trained a phenomenal reining horse, but we’re having trouble getting a consistent spin. How do you train a horse to spin?
As your circle tightens, your horse will have to work harder. He might slow down or pop his shoulder out of alignment. If he slows down, go back to a larger circle to re-establish his pace. If he pops his shoulder (his head will tilt and you’ll be able to feel uneven contact in your hands), add outside rein pressure to bring it back into line with his neck and rib cage.
During a spin, your horse’s hind end should become stationary while his forehand continues to move. Once he anchors his pivot foot (his inside hind), help him cross his front legs and turn clean by leading him with your inside rein held about 2 inches away from his neck. Also take your inside leg away from his side and turn your hips slightly into the turn. Your outside rein and hand stay put, but if you feel your horse shift his weight forward, alternately take and release on the left and right reins (or whichever rein on which he’s the heaviest) until he shifts his weight rearward, centers his weight and carries himself lightly between your hands. Use your outside leg to encourage your horse to keep moving after he’s taken one or two steps into the spin, otherwise your horse may be confused and step out of the spin.
Don’t add speed until your horse’s form is solid, or he’ll make mistakes that will affect his confidence. Take it one step at a time, and your horse will have a great spin to add to his reining repertoire.
Expert: Dale Rudin teaches her “Performance Through Partnership” techniques near her home in Tennessee and offers clinics nationwide. She also authors “Western Lessons” in Young Rider magazine.