Exercises that define the Western Horse – the Spin

Western Horse making a spin

The NRHA Definition of a Spin

Spins are a series of 360-degree turns, executed over a stationary (inside) hind leg. Propulsion for the spin is supplied by the outside rear leg and front legs, and contact should be made with the ground and a front leg. The location of hindquarters should be fixed at the start of the spin and maintained throughout the spins. It is helpful for a judge to watch for the horse to remain in the same location, rather than watching for a stationary inside leg. This allows for easier focus on other elements of the spin (i.e., cadence, attitude, smoothness, finesse, and speed).

Essential element of a Reining Pattern

Like sliding stops and rollbacks, spins are an essential element of any reining pattern. The pattern may require just one or more both to the left and the right. And no question, you’ll never execute a few perfect spins for the first time without feeling stunned about the agility of the horse you’re riding!

But of all the characteristic western riding features, the spin is the least representative of anything you really want from a versatile horse. I mean, in the real world, why would you want to spin your horse?

Unless, like me, you’re just a show off! We were out for a ride one day and came across a bunch of “English” riders. Which, I guess, is something that happens a lot more on this side of the Pond. And usually they’re always interested to know what a Western Horse is all about. Showing them a spin was the easiest to do without charging off into the woods for a rundown.

And it does look good but it’s artificial. Unlike the other feature reining manoeuvres, it doesn’t have any relevance to a horse working a cow. Indeed, do a 360 in the cutting arena and you’ll no-score for turning your back on the cow.

But the finesse and cue timing involved not only in training a western horse to spin but to execute multiple spins accurately in the show ring is probably the hardest of all to achieve. Easy it ain’t! Horse and rider must have a very high degree of co-ordination and perfect timing.