Snappy Spin

Horse & Rider - - PRIVATE LESSON -

One spin isn’t as easy a task as it might sound. It’s easy to over­turn and get pan­icky be­cause it hap­pens very quickly. The best ad­vice I can share with you—both as a judge and an ex­hibitor—is to strive for cor­rect­ness. Don’t try to make it look like a plushalf; most of the time you’ll wind up with a minus-half when you try too hard. Know your horse’s abil­i­ties and make it cor­rect.

Your suc­cess­ful spin ma­neu­ver starts with your ap­proach, stop, and 360-de­gree turn it­self, and ends with an exit that sets you up for suc­cess in the next ma­neu­ver. I’ll go through each of those steps here.


My nesslike, ap­proach which is is busi- how I tackle my en­tire ranch rid­ing pat­tern. I ride with a pur­pose and ask my horse to move out in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. If you’re rid­ing on a ranch, you’re on a mis­sion. You must move cat­tle or fix a fence; you’re there to work and get the job done well and move onto the next task. Ranch rid­ing pat­terns should be ap­proached in the same man­ner.


I stop my horse at the ap­pointed place, as des­ig­nated by the pat­tern. When I stop him, I pre­pare for the first turn. I stay soft—I don’t want to in­tim­i­date my horse or teach him to an­tic­i­pate the ma­neu­ver. De­pend­ing on my horse’s re­sponse time and his com­fort level, I try to min­i­mize the pause be­fore the turn. A lengthy pause, as you might see in a rein­ing pat­tern, isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate here. I’m here to get in, do my job, and get out.


I cue for my turn to the right with enough pres- sure to turn my horse to the best of his abil­ity. With prac­tice at home, I can de­ter­mine if he’s a slower turner or if he gets around with faster steps. A show isn’t the place to de­ter­mine at which speed we can spin; we need to de­cide his skill level at home. Just as with a rein­ing spin, I want my horse’s out­side front foot to cross in front of his in­side front foot, as shown here. I also want ca­dence

and fi­nesse to his steps rather than stum­bling and lack of rhythm.


I stop my horse right on tar­get. This pre­cise end to the turn is es­sen­tial and isn’t easy to achieve. By be­ing in sync with my horse, I can feel his foot­falls and de­ter­mine when to cue him to end the turn, pre­cisely at 360 de­grees. I quickly set­tle my horse and them move onto the next ma­neu­ver.


Some pat­terns call for a sin­gle con­sec­u­tive spin in each direc­tion. I can show an in­creased de­gree of dif­fi­culty and am­plify my score by keep­ing the pause be­fore my sec­ond turn as short as pos­si­ble for my horse. I must re­spect his need to ad­just and pre­pare, but if we’ve prac­ticed at home, I know how soon I can move into the next turn.


As we fin­ish the sec­ond turn, I’m pre­pared once again to stop my horse right on tar­get so we can move onto the next ma­neu­ver. This ma­neu­ver re­ally is about min­i­miz- ing the op­por­tu­nity for penal­ties by know­ing pre­cisely what your horse needs and how he re­sponds to your cues. If you know that you can get in and out cleanly, without any penal­ties, that’s the best way to go. If you push your horse past his known abil­i­ties, you set your­self up for ex­tra pres­sure that nei­ther of you can han­dle and will likely re­sult in a penalty.



Deb­bie Cooper, Scotts­dale, Ari­zona, is a life­long horse­woman who’s shown in ev­ery­thing from work­ing cow horse and rein­ing to English and all-around events. She’s a sought-af­ter judge for AQHA com­pe­ti­tions plus trains open horses and coaches am­a­teur and youth rid­ers. She’s a world cham­pion in a va­ri­ety of events, in­clud­ing ranch rid­ing.





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