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reindance
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Posted: Sun Jan 8th, 2012 03:51 pm
I am a reining trainer and instructor. I have been watching fellow trainers teaching their horses to spin by slightly bending the horse to the insde and pulling on the inside rein while trotting a circle. The horse will keep pushing on the bit until his head is very low to the ground...they never release the rein but open their inside leg to allow the horse to start moving around its hind end. I keep watching and wondering with that much weight on the front end and no release how can the horse spin. I usually train my horse to stay straight without any bend and ask them to step over with their front legs as in a side pass. Therefore the front end is not weighted and they can move. If too much weight is on the front end wouldn't that make the hind end lighter and therefore move around more? I am trying to understand the physical aspect of this. Can you explain?
DrDeb
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Posted: Sun Jan 8th, 2012 10:51 pm
OK, Raindance, your question is of some interest here because of the following true story. Back when I and some of the others who correspond here were being taught by Ray Hunt, during his clinics the question of "what is a spin" would almost always be asked by someone in the gallery. Sometimes the question was asked directly of Ray, but sometimes it was more of a comment-behind-the-bleachers kind of thing that somebody would either say to me or that I would overhear.

One day after Ray had been demonstrating the correct way to turn a horse around, an older and fairly experienced "reining trainer" turned to me and said: "Well, I like that Ray Hunt a lot and I have a lot of respect for him. But there's one thing he does wrong."

"What's that?" I asked.

"He always turns his horse on the wrong hind foot," replied the man.

Now, Raindance, I am 100% sure that if you are involved in reining competitions that you know who Bob Loomis is. And, if you don't, you OUGHT to know who Charles O. Wilkinson was. Wilkinson, and a few others, were the founders right after WWII of the reining horse associations as we today know them in the U.S. and Canada, and they wrote the original rule-book, which says that during a "spin", the horse:

"....shall turn around in such a manner that his inside hind foot pumps up and down over a single point."

And this is indeed how Ray Hunt, and others who correctly understand how to train a horse and would never ruin a horse just to please a popular fad, always turn their horses. But when Mr. Loomis became the no. 1 guy in reining -- that was back in the late 1960's and 1970's -- he "re-interpreted" what the rule-book actually says, and in his book he teaches that the horse is to turn around in such a manner that his inside hind foot remains planted over a single point.

This seemingly small difference makes an enormous difference to the exercise that the horse actually performs. The two ways of turning a horse around are diametrical opposites. My personal belief is that Mr. Loomis said what he said because (a) he didn't know any better, and (b) he had never trained any horse the correct way.

Nonetheless, Loomis' influence remains to this day, so that 95% of horses in reining competition turn around by weighting their inside hind leg. In doing this, they are ONE AND ALL heavily on the forehand -- no matter if they are brought to do it by either method that you have described, Reindance. I realize that the reason why asking a horse to "spin" at all puts him on the forehand are probably not at all obvious to you, but if you'll hang in there with me through a continuing correspondence, it will become clear. It all is going to depend on whether you are willing to try practicing Ray's signature exercise, which is the change from turn on the forehand to turn over the haunches, and whether, having done so, you are capable of realizing what this means in terms of teaching the horse to balance and carry itself upon the haunches.

So, to finish up the story about the question being asked of Ray, what he (and our elderly teacher also) would always say when asked "why don't you spin your horse like they do in the reining competitions" -- they would say, very kindly, "well, we don't use that type of turn when working cattle very often."

Now, I am aware, again, that there's a good chance that this entire post so far as you have read it is entirely Greek to you, because you do not differentiate or understand the difference between a spin and the correct form, which is the rollback. In other words, when I say 'correct', I don't mean 'correct by the lights of the reining horse club', and neither do I mean 'correct by some arbitrary definition', but rather I mean that a rollback is something that a horse can perform with ease and that the repeated doing of rollbacks will not cause him to become lame or in any other manner degrade his fitness or soundness; indeed, the rollback is actually physiotherapeutic and developing. Whereas the same may certainly not be said of the spin, which is the turn performed when the inside hind leg drills into a point on the ground.

Now, Reindance, you might like to know how I could possibly know that you don't know the difference -- it is because you speak of a "side pass". This is common American lingo but the term in fact has no real meaning. In other words, many people who say "side pass" will say it whether the horse is performing a lateral movement in the leg-yield family, or a lateral movement that belongs to the half-pass family, or even of somebody performing a lateral movement that belongs to the shoulder-in family. They see the horse "going sideways" but they are unable to differentiate the three families, which each subsume different types of lateral work.

The person who speaks of "side pass" also typically does not realize -- nobody has ever helped them to realize -- that a spin is a form of the leg-yield family, while a rollback or "proper" turnback, or spin if you like, is a form of the half-pass family. And this is why the man would say, "Ray Hunt turns his horse on the wrong hind leg," because to that man, he was looking for a movement of the leg-yield family, whereas instead Ray would always perform the correct movement, which is of the half-pass family.

Now, with this much introduction Reindance, I will treat you the same as I treat all my other students, by honoring you with the opportunity to respond thoughtfully to a few questions. This will give you the opportunity to get the correct answers yourself, rather than having me spoon-feed you.

First question: what does untracking have to do with leg-yielding? In other words, how is untracking similar to leg-yielding? If you need help answering this, I assure you this is an open-book exam: go find out by reading my 'How Horses Work' series in The Eclectic Horseman magazine. Go to their website and have them back-start your subscription to the first issue (now two years ago) of this so-far ten-part series. When you get to the installment where the "refrigerator picture" is printed, do please make a Xerox copy or scan of that and do please hang it on your refrigerator, so you will see it every day!

Second question: when a horse steps off into a right-lead canter, how exactly does he do that? In other words, what is the "first foot" or the foot that makes the first hoofprint when the horse departs from a walk to a right-lead canter? Now be sure I have not gone off the deep end here by asking you this -- I know you're asking about spins, but in reality, I am making having the light dawn on you easier by asking it this way than some other way I could ask. So be patient with me and answer this, and we will see how accurate your knowledge is.

Third question: when a horse bends, what is the most fundamental cause of the bend? In other words, in a properly trained and ridden horse, is the bend created by the rider's hand or the bit? Or is it created by the rider's leg? and if you choose to say "leg", then what is the specific effect of the leg?

When you come back with answers to these three things, then we'll have a basis for guiding you to a better understanding of how to train your own horses to turn around -- never mind what you've seen somebody else do. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

reindance
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Posted: Sun Jan 8th, 2012 11:26 pm
Thank you for your answer. Yes I know who Bob Loomis is and no I have tried to train horses in a different way than the mainstream reiners.  I have been following Tom, Ray, Buck, and you since I knew there was a better way back in the 1980's. I have two audio tapes with you and another fellow talking about what a horse needs before you can start training and have thought of it often as I train.  I will do my research work and get back with you on those 3 questions.
Karla D.
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Posted: Wed Apr 11th, 2012 07:16 am
Dr. Deb:                                                                                 

    Can we revisit, ie continue, this learning opportunity? 

reindance
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Posted: Wed Apr 11th, 2012 12:38 pm
I would like to but have been unable to get information that is needed for my reseach from E/Horseman. Gues I am on my own now.
DrDeb
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Posted: Wed Apr 11th, 2012 04:37 pm
Just as soon as someone responds to the questions I asked in the above post, then we can certainly continue. Even if you have been unable to figure out answers by looking in the Eclectic Horseman, you should take a stab at it -- you will only be given the right information if you are wrong, and that's what you came for, right? -- Dr. Deb
MtnHorse
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Posted: Wed Apr 11th, 2012 05:18 pm
 

Well Reindance perhaps Dr Deb will let some of us help you and move the subject along. Since many subjects are talked about in more than one place I will refer you to other sources.

Question 1.  Untracking is discussed in article Lessons from Woody in the Knowledge Base section of the ESI main page.  Specifically starting on page 18 of the article.   I am not as much help with a definition of exactly what leg-yielding means.  However, in a thread called “How to find old forum threads” Dr Deb replies to KCooper in a way that leads me to believe that a leg-yield is simply the cue described in the Woody article.  In other words, the leg –yield is the way the rider asks for untracking, or when a horse does a leg-yield it is untracking.

 

Question 2.  One of the best places to learn about canter departure is a thread here on the forum called “What’s my Gait.” You can find it by using the search here or by putting the subject titles in order of most replies and it will be on the first page.  The advanced Google searches never works on my computer but you might have better luck.

The second place that was helpful for me although it has taken some chewing to get it, is a thread called “Picture Analysis.”  Specifically, look at my question and Dr Deb’s reply near the end of the thread.

In answering Dr Deb’s question I would say that the first foot fall on a right lead canter is an untrack of the right hind foot.  That moves the weight over the outside hind and leads to a place where all the weight can be on that foot.

 

Question 3.  With the above references I would say the bend come from the riders inside leg and that it moves the spine into an arch.  Spine dynamics govern limb dynamics as in the Confirmation videos.  Sorry, could resist, Conformation videos.

 

A small correction, I believe Dr Deb meant to refer to Charles O Williamson not Wilkinson.  If I follow the line of her questioning I would assume that spin he describes has the weight moving on and off the outside foot.

As to the proper cues to train the move, I can only guess. Which I will, the spin would be a canter move so the outside leg/cheek would be grounded and the rein would have to let the horse know to turn sharply in place rather than to move forward.  In order to stay within good horsemanship parameters the cues would have to be given so that it was accomplished one step at a time.  Hence, it could be taught with one step and then two then three. . . .

DrDeb
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Posted: Wed Apr 11th, 2012 07:46 pm
Mtn Horse: Good, good, good. I see you've been doing quite a bit of digging and thinking -- all to your own benefit and your horse's, and hopefully also now that you've shared some of it here, to others' benefit also. And yes, thanks, I did mean C.O. Williamson -- 'Wilkinson' would be the razorblade I guess.

Ahh, yes, as to the first footfall in a right-lead canter: 'officially' that would be the left hind. However, I like your suggestion that we ought to think that back one more beat and remember that the way the horse ought to get his weight onto that leg would be to untrack, i.e. by bringing the right hind leg under the body-shadow.

As to the identity of leg-yield and untracking: yes, leg-yield requires untracking; untracking is what makes it happen. Leg yields I consider to be a family of movements so executed: see the latest issue of Eclectic Horseman to read the article entitled 'Three Classes of Lateral Work.'

A rollback (the English term is 'pirouette' or 'turn over the haunches') is an example of LATERAL WORK done 'over a point'. The turn on the forehand is a leg-yield done 'over a point'; its inverse, done over the haunches, is the pirouette. Specifically, the pirouette belongs to Class III lateral work, i.e. traversals, not leg-yields; yet, as you read the abovementioned article, it should be clear that traversals are based, like everything else, on untracking, and cannot be done correctly unless the horse first understands and easily performs all kinds of leg-yields. He also needs to be brought up through Class II lateral work, i.e. shoulders-in; one normally introduces traversals or half-passes in a figure that starts out being in shoulder-in.

As the article points out, buckaroo/vaquero/traditional paso horsemanship, which all hark directly back to European classicism of the Renaissance, does not acknowledge or name the shoulder-in. This is because at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the shoulder-in had not yet been 'discovered' as a discrete movement. Its parameters and advantages were finally defined by Robichon de la Gueriniere in the 18th century. That LaGueriniere is given credit for defining or even 'discovering' the exercise does not mean that it had never been practiced before; merely that it had been practiced as you might say 'incidentally'. Because of this history, cowboys and western riding generally do not speak of the shoulder-in, but good buckaroos use it nonetheless; indeed one cannot help but use it when leg-yielding on a circle or through a corner or smooth turn, because such a leg-yield is equally at least a shoulder-fore, and on a more supple and finished horse who is turned loose through the ribcage, it will be a full-blown shoulder-in, whether the rider can name the thing or not.

The normal way of teaching a horse to traverse begins with a gentle half-pass done on a diagonal line that doesn't have too sharp an angle to it. The classic technique, as outlined by Nuno Oliveira for example, is to ride the horse (let us say going to the right of the arena or clockwise), up the long side on the track at a walk in shoulder-in. When you get to the top corner, make a smooth circle, maintaining the shoulder-in posture, of not more than 10m diameter. Circle once around. When you get back to your tangent-point on the track, start a second circle ditto; but this time, only go about 1/3rd of the way around. At this point, you'll be on the track of the short side; put your outside leg pretty far back, like as if to 'guard' the hinduarters, but don't be pushing, shoving, or jabbing; light taps are all you are allowed with that leg. Your inside leg is quiet but 'present'. Tighten your inside rein a fair amount; take the slack out of it and take a frank feel of the horse's tongue. LOOSEN your outside rein -- very permissive. LOOK UP and to your right, aiming your eyes back toward the track on the long side, and the horse will begin stepping over. The crucial thing is that he steps over by bringing the OUTSIDE hind leg under the body-shadow, even so far that it is in front of the inside hind leg.

As the horse steps, you will feel as if his hindquarters are trying to 'lead' the shoulders. This is just fine at first -- don't let anybody tell you that it is improper. That it FEELS like the hindquarters are leading doesn't mean they actually are; but even if they actually are, you don't need to be too critical at first, as this is a more difficult exercise than almost anything you'll ever ask your h orse to do. Go slow, and be content to praise for every good try. Two or three steps to begin with is great.

Now, you will see that to do this the horse must (1) anchor with the outside hind limb, and (2) by effort of the outside hind limb, he will push his body forward-and-across. He will "receive" the weight upon his inside hind limb -- merely receive it; receive it, which gives him time and opportunity to initiate another crossing step with the outside hind.

And this is exactly what a pirouette is, whether done at a walk or canter. The anchor is the outside hind limb, and the axis of rotation is to pass through the outside hind limb. The horse powers the movement from the outside hind limb. He steps from outside hind limb to inside hind limb, but the inside hind limb merely "receives" the weight momentarily, just long enough to allow the outside hind limb to re-set or anchor over the same, or nearly the same, spot on the ground. The inside hind limb does NOT step over the same spot, but progresses around the hoofprint of the outside hind in a little circle.

Normally one does not ask the horse to make canter pirouettes that are as tight as possible right at first. Instead, one asks him for the volte, which is a canter 'pirouette' where the outside hind limb tracks a circle a little bigger than the top of a 50-gallon drum. In fact, a great way to practice these is to have the horse canter around an actual 50-gallon drum or barrel race drum, keeping his haunches closer to the drum than his forequarter with every step, so that the animal anchors on the outside hind and steps wide with the inside hind, thus progressing around the drum.

Obviously, the finished pirouette is a work of art and a feat of athletic prowess requiring enormous strength as well as refined balance. The pirouette is the most athletically demanding movement that a horse can be asked to execute, apart from "airs" above the ground or the half-airs like mezair or pesade.

And this is why we do not see pirouette -- that is to say, real rollback -- in the common run of reining competition: almost nobody out there is capable of it, and since Bob Loomis' 'revision' or 'alternative reading' of the original reining rule-book, almost nobody bothers with it since 95% of the judges will plus a spin but ding a rollback, should they ever actually see one. A spin is a variant of a mere leg-yield: you go through a corner of the arena with the horse in a counter-bend, and when you're halfway through the corner, you cause him to begin stepping wide with the outside hind leg (i.e. if you're going to the right of the arena, and you go through a corner in a counter-bend, the horse will have a left bend, and his outside hind leg will therefore be toward the inside of the arena, i.e. the animal's right  hind leg). So you have the right hind leg step wide, you maintain the counter-bend, you ask him to cross under with the inside hind leg and he will also quite spectacularly cross the forelimbs. And the stiffer the animal is through the ribcage and the less turned-loose, the faster he will spin. In a spin, as you see from this description, the anchoring leg is the inside hind (the left hind leg) and the axis of the spin passes either through that leg (better quality execution) or through a point between that limb and the horn of the saddle (less quality).

Our elderly teacher was quite frequently asked about the difference between spin and pirouette, and he would say of the spin 'we don't use that move on cattle very often'. We consider that our final answer, too, so that, like my teacher Ray Hunt, the only turn you'll see me do, or if you look at Buck Brannaman or Harry Whitney it will be the same -- is the rollback/pirouette/turn over the haunches. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

Kuhaylan Heify
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Posted: Thu Aug 5th, 2021 02:10 pm
So, is it correct to say then that both hind legs stay in the walk, trot or canter time signature while the inside hind steps towards the navel and the outside hind in the direction of the turn?
best
Bruce Peek
DrDeb
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Posted: Fri Aug 6th, 2021 05:47 am
Bruce, this is a thread we haven't revisited for a while -- over ten years. So let me take this opportunity to perhaps say it in a different way.

First: spin and pirouette/rollback are altogether different maneuvers. They are almost opposites, and certainly the terms 'spin' and 'pirouette' or 'spin' and 'rollback' are not synonymous.

The spin maneuver is part of the family of Class I lateral work, in other words a spin is a variation on the leg-yield. To perform a leg-yield, let us say the horse is bent so that he is concave to the right (the bend is not to be very deep, in some cases hardly detectable), so that his weight is on the outside pair of legs, i.e. the left fore and left hind in this example. He is then free to lift the inside (right) hind foot and swing it obliquely forward so that it lands under the body-shadow. It is not to land farther under than the midline. If the observer stands in front of the horse, the forelimbs can be seen to cross and it’s fine if they do.

In performing a leg-yield, the horse's weight as I said above is displaced onto the outside pair of legs. By our standards of judgement, the less of this quantum that gets distributed forward, onto the outside foreleg, the better; so that it is possible to perform a leg-yield in a level balance, without the horse being "on the forehand".

In a spin, the object is to get the forequarters to step around in a circle, and this is effected by distributing enough of the weight that is on the outside pair of limbs onto the left fore so that it can anchor (drive into the ground) enough to permit it to act as a means of pushing the forequarter to the right (frame 1 in the Spin Sequence images below).
 
Meanwhile, in back he continues to do exactly what he would have done had he been performing an ordinary leg yield – as you see in all the frames in the spin sequence, the right or inside hind leg takes the majority of the weight. When it is planted, it anchors (digs into the ground) and acts to push the haunches to the left as the forequarter goes to the right. Notice that in frame 3 it also acts to push the body backwards. This is how Loomis and those he has subsequently influenced perform spins; it gives a performance in which the horse turns 'around' a hind limb in the sense that the inside hind limb is pressed into the ground most of the time, and thus works like a firepole (frame 4). The axis of the spin is the “firepole” – the inside hind leg.
 
The spinning horse is actually moving backwards; the rider may congratulate himself upon the fact that the hind feet appear to be “well up under the body”, but the hind feet did not drive forward into this position but are there only because the spin drives the bodymass backward as much as circularly, since almost 100% of the propulsion for the movement is being supplied by the forelimbs. This is why we do not practice or advocate this movement, and why it is so unfortunate that Loomis’ style “took over” reining competition, even though the original writers of the rule-book knew better; their intention was to have people perform rollbacks, not spins.

Now we contrast the spin with the pirouette/rollback, a maneuver that belongs to Class III lateral work. In all maneuvers belonging to this class of movement, the horse is bent to the right but also moves to the right, i.e. he looks in the direction of movement. The clearest example here would be to contrast a leg-yield from quarter-line to the wall vs. a half-pass from quarter-line to the wall. In the first case, the horse (on the right rein) would turn down the center line at "A" (with a righthand bend in his body) and move to his left until he reached the wall; in the second case, he would turn down the center line at "A" (with a righthand bend in his body) and move to his right until he reached the wall.

In Class III maneuvers, the horse must anchor on the outside hind leg; in other words, weight is to be displaced to the outside (which it will always be if the horse is indeed bent). The animal still steps under the body shadow with the inside hind leg, but that leg, unlike in a leg yield, is not the driving limb; rather it is the outside hind leg. When weight is so distributed, and the outside hind limb is the anchoring limb and the driver, it is guaranteed that the horse will not be "on the forehand".

To “not be on the forehand” means that the forehand is carrying relatively little weight, that is, weight has not been displaced or distributed onto either forelimb. Therefore these limbs cannot act as drivers, because there is not enough weight on them – even when the forefeet touch ground – to anchor them. To execute a pirouette or rollback, all that is necessary is that the horse be bent, the weight be distributed toward the outside hind limb, and the touch of the outside rein against the convex (left) side of the horse's neck or upper shoulder blocks him from leaning, swaying, or moving to his left. The right rein and the rider’s right leg, meanwhile, exert zero pressure and invite the horse to step into the “opening” so created. Insofar as the outside branch of the bit blocks the horse from forward movement, the thrust coming from the outside hind limb will cause the body to turn right, more sharply the more the outside branch of the bit blocks him from going forward. All these points are brought out in the pirouette sequence, made from photographs I took of Buck Brannaman some years ago.

In a pirouette or rollback, the haunches are not displaced to the left as the forehand comes to the right; in fact, they themselves also move forward and to the right with each step that comprises the pirouette/rollback. Therefore, the axis of the turn is through the outside haunch and hind limb, and the horse is always moving forward and always looking into the direction of his movement. This is why we choose to practice this form.
 
The pirouette/rollback is not usually practiced at the trot, but normally at the walk and canter. At the trot, the same set of aids and the same bend and sense of movement will result in one or another form of half-pass, which can be performed by a very supple horse on a curve of about 10 meters. It is the footfall order and coordination of the walk and canter that permit the curvature to be smaller at those gaits, down to the diameter of the outside hind hoof.
 
Bruce, how to perform pirouettes and half-pirouettes will instantly become clear to you, without these necessarily technical and wordy explanations, once you obtain a horse that is big enough to carry your large frame and long legs, once you teach him to rise to the leg (raise the life when it feels to him like you’re going to use your legs), and once you have come along far enough with that horse that the two of you begin to find it easy to depart directly into a canter from a walk. Once you can make these departures very quietly, on almost-invisible aids, the necessary small adjustment in the positon and ‘feel’ of the outside rein that will cause the horse to turn more or less sharply will present itself to you very clearly. Then -- but not at any time before then. Cheers – Dr. Deb           see spin and pirouette sequences in next two posts


DrDeb
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Posted: Fri Aug 6th, 2021 05:49 am
Here's the spin sequence, made from photographs I took years ago at a big Quarter Horse show:

Attachment: FORUM Spin sequence 5 frames sm.jpg


DrDeb
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Posted: Fri Aug 6th, 2021 05:50 am
And here's the pirouette sequence. The rollback is in all essentials the same as a half-pirouette:

Attachment: FORUM Rollback Sequence 6 views Buck sm.jpg


JTB
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Posted: Sun Aug 8th, 2021 01:43 am
Very excellent helpful drawings. I have been playing about with in hand work and this has cleared up a few things.
Many thanks.
Hope everyone continues to be safe. :-)



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