Stacy's Video Diary: Jac Episode 38-Teaching the spin; which foot should a horse spin on and why?

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.


  1. Margie on May 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you for this video to answer the pivot foot question. How can you tell if a horse is capable of a fast spin or not?

  2. Rick Hansen on May 29, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I don’t understand the function of a spin on the inside foot as it relates to a cow. Coming out of a stop and turn having to complete a turn more than a half a turn to get to a cow I can understand that. Every half turn u make on the inside foot makes u gain ground on the cow the width of the hocks. You see it all the time when the cow reined people work out of the herd. Spinning is nothing more than show trick with little functional use. Great exercise for a lot of reasons to teach it though. Horses can spin fast pretty and functional on the outside foot so why a judged spin? What foot should a roll back be on?

  3. Brenda on May 28, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Hey Newt , when you gotta go you gotta go!! LOL!

  4. Lindsay J on May 28, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I was wondering about the ‘wrong’ foot in episode 29, thank you for answering my question! Made a lot of sense but now I have another question! I noticed in the clip of Jac from last week he is wearing a bosal/hackamore? I was just wondering your thought process as to why you tried this type of bridle, why you thought you needed it, and how it is working for him? Thanks for an awesome video series, I have learned so much and I dont even ride this discipline!

  5. sage on May 28, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    My name is Sage and I am only 10. I have a horse name stormy. she can spin really fast. I barrel race.

  6. Terri Anderson on May 28, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    AWESOME!!!!!! This is SOOO helpful!!!!! Explains a couple of things! We were zeroing our slow spins last year in green classes, but as we are trying to add speed to up the score, he is hopping into it going to the right…..and he is tall guy, is spreading out in the front……back to some basics for us! Cant wait to get to the barn tonight:) Thank you for such great information! BTW, he is very athletic, and has the ability to be a plus spinner when a trainer rides him:)

  7. Lesia Lowe on May 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    thanx Stacy…. I have been wondering about this for awhile…and it makes sense,… Newt is sooo HANDSOME….. and I loved the blooper at the end!!!! …..I think by me laughing so hard that it took care of my tummy exercise for the day!!!

  8. Deborah Ryan on May 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    What do you do with an amazing 8-year-old mountain horse when you learn you can’t ride any longer due to medical issues.

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