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Starting turnarounds: The keys

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - September 19th, 2013 - More with Les

51st in a series
Last issue, Les listed details we should look for when troubleshooting our progress. Now we’ll head into turnarounds with a few keys to have in our focus.

– The horse’s neck must be soft both laterally and vertically before you start.
– The horse should plant his inside hind foot – it bears the weight.
– The outside hind leg pushes, providing the power.
– The front legs are like a wheel and control direction.
– The shoulders are like a wagon axis, they should have just enough tilt in the direction of the turn to allow the outside front leg to reach across the inside one.

– Sit deep in the saddle and ride the back of the horse up to the front.
– Keep your hands apart – no neck rein.
– Start in a small circle, using both legs actively.
– Ask your horse for a step or two, then release and go back to your circle.
– Push with your legs instead of pulling with your hands. If you feel backward motion, you know you’re pulling too hard.
– Reward the thought; when you feel the slightest try, give him the benefit of the doubt and reward him.
– Be consistent.
– The first few steps will dictate the quality of the spin, if they are bad, don’t continue. You don’t want your horse to learn to do a bad spin, hold out for a better one.
– Speed comes later

– Always start from the front; get the neck right, followed by the shoulders, ribs, and hindquarters.
– Make sure the horse does not twist in the poll. The spine will also twist and the horse’s weight will shift to the outside hind foot and throw off the balance of the spin.
– Allow the horse to find his own way and be comfortable.
– It’s all in the neck! Neck resistance is a speed limit.
– A common mistake is using too much outside rein. It:
– Brings the head up
– Drags the horse around
– Is restrictive to front mechanics and clearance
– Steals power from the hindquarters.
– Be safe, don’t use it at this point.

You’ll want to use the tail of your rein
– If your horse tends to pop his tail when you use your leg.
– If your horse is lethargic and you’re afraid using leg will push his shoulders into your maneuvers.
– The right way to use them:
– Let her look around and see what’s there.
– Rein across palm, thumbs pointed together.
– Aim for the horse’s hip.
– Don’t use them unless he’s moving.
– Swing the rein back slow (overhand swing)
– Then snap your wrist down.
– Practice with both hands.
– Don’t have to be mounted to practice.
– If you’re going to use the tail of the reins, use light taps, but in the right place, at the right time.
– Try not to let him see it, you want him to think that ‘God’ did it, not you.
– Most common times you’ll use the tail of your reins:
– Horses that won’t run fast.
– Horses that are lethargic in their turnarounds.

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