In this video I explain my method of teaching reiners to spin. There were lots of questions about this after Episode 29 of Jac. At the end of the video I also explain when I would modify this training.

3:03- I have three stages of teaching the spin. In the first stage I have the horses pivot on the ‘wrong’ foot because I can teach them to lock in on their hind end and draw their front legs closer to the hind legs, rounding their backs, and allowing them to step very clean with their front legs. I teach this stage to my reiners because I will eventually add speed. With speed many horses tend to flatten out and get their front feet too far out in front of them. By exaggerating the roundness of the back, the stationary hind end and the clean steps in the front end in the beginning I have had great success using this method with horses who will spin very fast later.

3:40-In stage two I add more speed which causes the horses to rock forward and begin shifting the hind legs, alternating between the right and left legs as they learn to balance while gaining speed. My goal here is to still keep the steps with the front feet very clean while allowing the horse to find his balance. Because I taught the horse to ‘lock in’ the hind end in stage one, the horses have less of a tendency to move around in their hind ends.

4:08- In the final stage I add more speed which fully moves most horses over to the ‘correct’ foot while still maintaining good, clean steps in the front end. A common problem when adding speed is the horse getting too stretched out-the front feet very far out in front-which can cause hopping or loss of speed. If this happens I can rock them back because I have taught them how in an earlier stage. Because I taught the spin with many steps I have many steps to go back to if problems occur.

4:40- This is an example of my horse, Vaquero, spinning (and winning) at the 2011 Quarter Horse Congress Freestyle. Here you can see how the horse is holding his own frame without the bridle because of his early training. Vaquero spins much faster because he is a quick footed horse. To see the full ride; click here.

Not everyone teaches the spin the same way. The methods I use fit into my program.

Examples of places where I would not use this technique are;

  1.  when the horse will not be asked for speed; for example a western pleasure/horsemanship horse.
  2. if the horse isn’t going to physically be able to add a lot of speed.

In these examples it would be appropriate to teach the horse from the beginning to pivot on the ‘correct’ foot. The reason is that the horse is never going to add a great deal of speed so the other steps can be skipped.

Wherever you are going to show you should know the rules. In many showmanship or horsemanship classes they will consider the inside hind to be correct; turning to the right they would want he horse pivoting on the right hind. In that case the horse should be trained accordingly.

This is an excerpt from the NRHA rulebook (National Reining Horse Association); “It is helpful for a judge to watch for the horse to remain in the same location, rather than watching for a stationary in- side leg. This allows for easier focus on other elements of the spin (i.e., cadence, attitude, smoothness, finesse, and speed).” 

The horses have some say over how they can most effectively use their bodies at high speed and that is why, in the end, some leeway is allowed. I remember one horse I was training that could spin a strong plus half or plus one spin if you allowed him to shift his hind legs around the way Newt was in the second example. If I focused on making him lock onto the ‘correct’ inside leg he could only go about half the speed which decreased his maneuver score. This particular horse was physically more comfortable in the frame where he could shift between his hind feet. He kept his hind end stationary so I preferred that with speed over ‘correct’ but slow.