Why do Reiners spin?

Simple question, where did this originate?

I know many classical dressage movements are exaggerated natural movements of the horse to fend off attackers.

But that reining horse spin… Why?
And while we’re at it… that peanut roller western pleasure “lope”. Why? Where did that originate? I"m not looking for “because we’ve always done it that way”. I’m looking for a logical reason of where this originated, like why we mount typically from the left. Back in the day, sabers were carried on the left hip. Safest to mount from the left…

Curious to see the answers and opinions. Thanks.

The spins and rollbacks reiners are required to do in their patterns originated from working cows. It simulates how a horse would turn to go after a cow. The western pleasure lope has sadly been bastardized from its original purpose. It was supposed to show a quiet relaxed horse anyone could ride. However, it evolved into the hot mess it is now. I hope that helps!

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Showing horses is about presenting your horse doing what it naturally does, in an enhanced, more difficult way and see who can do it best.

Spinning itself doesn’t has to make sense, it is an exaggeration from a handy horse being able to move quickly over it’s hocks, then brought to a high level of competence in reining spins.

Roping developed as a way to treat cattle you found with injuries and more important, screw worm infections.
Blow flies would lay eggs in wounds and especially in new born calves navels.
Those grew into flesh eating maggots that would eventually kill it’s host.

Screwworms were terrible on wildlife and then when humans brought cattle here, also on them.
Best way to treat as many a day as you could find was to rope them to catch them and treat them.
That too, when people had time on their hands and wanted to show off their skills, arena roping developed.
Is not the same, roping outside is about sneaking in and catching, then riding around the calf and letting the rope wind itself around legs, back the horse and the calf would fall over, legs taken out from under it and you could run and jump on it before it got up, tie it down and treat it.
In the arena, roping was made for time and changed to what is today, not like pasture roping.

Similar to why we jump horses over obstacles and why higher and higher and in more difficult ways?
We want a horse you could use to travel faster than on foot and some of that included jumping whatever you came across, logs, ditches and such.
Once making jumping a competition, we train and jump higher.

Some gaited horses were comfortable to ride across the land as people used them for transportation.
As people liked their horse look flashy, the more animation and leg action those horses had, the more they liked it.
Some made competitions out of that, some gaits were considered best and the more exaggerated the horse moved, the flashier, some decided to compete to see who had the fanciest of all.
Saddlebreds were one of those breeds and so we have today their many gaited horse classes with those horses showing off their stuff in shows.

People just enjoy their horses and doing things with them and competing seems to be part of what humans do, with horses also.

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My previous post was unapproved, so here it is, until it can be approved:

Showing horses is about presenting your horse doing what it naturally does, in an enhanced, more difficult way and see who can do it best.

Spinning itself doesn’t has to make sense, it is an exaggeration from a handy horse being able to move quickly over it’s hocks, then brought to a high level of competence in reining spins.

Roping developed as a way to treat cattle you found with injuries and more important, screw worm infections.
Blow flies would lay eggs in wounds and especially in new born calves navels.
Those grew into flesh eating maggots that would eventually kill it’s host.

Screwworms were terrible on wildlife and then when humans brought cattle here, also on them.
Best way to treat as many a day as you could find was to rope them to catch them and treat them.
That too, when people had time on their hands and wanted to show off their skills, arena roping developed.
Is not the same, roping outside is about sneaking in and catching, then riding around the calf and letting the rope wind itself around legs, back the horse and the calf would fall over, legs taken out from under it and you could run and jump on it before it got up, tie it down and treat it.
In the arena, roping was made for time and changed to what is today, not like pasture roping.

Similar to why we jump horses over obstacles and why higher and higher and in more difficult ways?
We want a horse you could use to travel faster than on foot and some of that included jumping whatever you came across, logs, ditches and such.
Once making jumping a competition, we train and jump higher.

Some gaited horses were comfortable to ride across the land as people used them for transportation.
As people liked their horse look flashy, the more animation and leg action those horses had, the more they liked it.
Some made competitions out of that, some gaits were considered best and the more exaggerated the horse moved, the flashier, some decided to compete to see who had the fanciest of all.
Saddlebreds were one of those breeds and so we have today their many gaited horse classes with those horses showing off their stuff in shows.

People just enjoy their horses and doing things with them and competing seems to be part of what humans do, with horses also.

Well, having ridden a number of western horses with famous breeding, old-style bodies, they were ROUGH at a normal trot and canter. One ring trick was holding on to the outside of saddle cantle to keep your seat, appear to not bounce going around the ring.You were supposed to look comfortable while riding, so one of the methods for comfort in the ring, was just going slower! Slow allowed you to sit and not bounce every stride, either gait. Slow was big in the 1960s, then things went back to more normal speeds and moving as winners. Judges were actual horse folk, ranchers, who all wanted free moving, FORWARD horses in Western, not something so slow it would take all day to cover a couple miles!

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   Perhaps this is what others are saying in slightly different ways, but as a dressage rider, I always assumed that both the lope and the jog were developed because what would be a good canter or trot in dressage (with jump in the canter and lots of suspension in trot) would be too difficult to sit in a western saddle. Top dressage riders can look comfortable and go with the motion without bouncing when riding horses with huge gaits. My assumption - possibly unfair- was that in the ideal jog or lope, there is basically no suspension to make the gait easier to sit. 

       To a dressage rider, the western lope makes the horse look lame. If my horse cantered that way, I’d jump off and call the vet.
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Actually, many cantering Western horses ARE lame, or going strung out, which is why they move so badly. They have the headset, but not able to overstride at all, because “then they move too fast.” Hind end is only following because it is tied on." Horse is lame trotting as well. Heaven forbid one horse passes another on the rail!! That is the “Kiss oF Death.” You won’t place.

You can always order the DVDs from the QH Association, about how the classes are judged. Watching the horses go, then hearing the speaker telling you about how good horse is, will make think a blind person is talking! We watched the DVD for 4H Horse Judging Team, and even young kids were asking why they were riding the lame horses? It was the last time those kids did Judging. They had hard questions when giving oral reasons, like did you place the lame horse over the on who never cantered or only cantered in front?

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  Wow. Are you a Western rider? I have only ridden dressage, and the sum total of my riding western is maybe 3 commercial trail rides in my lifetime. At the walk.

   When I (rarely) happen to see Western Pleasure at the county fair or something, I notice the gorgeous outfits (nothing wrong with that), but looking at the horses being ridden, I literally cringe wondering if the horse is lame. By expressing that opinion, I frankly expected to be attacked as ignorant. 

   On the other hand, when I happen to see team roping competitions, those horses (and riders) are impressive!  No lope or jog there. 

       The dichotomy between the incredibly athletic roping horses bombing around athletically vs the cringe-worthy lope in Western Pleasure is very strange.
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I still dont’ quite understand the spin and why.

Yes, the Puissance is an exaggeration of jumping – which was necessary for fox hunters and horses used as transportation. But that spin. I just dont see how spinning a horse 15x in a competition is an exaggeration of anything a cutting horse would do. Especially the ones who don’t do it well. Yikes.

I can’t even get into the western pleasure competition gates. And I wholeheartedly agree with YankeeDuchess’ comments above.

Ever been to a Tennessee Walker show?

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As someone totally ignorant of the Western disciplines and looking at it from the outside, I thought the previous answer made sense. For the western spin and the dressage pirouette, the horse needs to collect and carry with the hindquarters. In dressage, this was based on maneuverability in combat in tight quarters. In western, I can see that in working with cows, the horse might need to turn a tight circle on its haunches. Not 15 times, that would be an exaggeration, but demonstrating the strength and balance to spin once I can see is useful.

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A reining spin is 4x and builds each spin on the previous one to end up with that show flashy blur at the end and the perfect stop, no over or under spin and the horse standing there with a pleasant expression, not hot and jigging or worried.
The horse performs the spin from the rider just asking and then letting the horse spin, which some really get into it and try very hard.
Horses are judged on foot placement, that the hind feet stay within a 1’ square, preferred the inside foot be the anchor foot, the front loose and even footfalls, not choppy, etc.
The more precise and harder and more speed, the more + points given to that movement.
Points taken for so many little details, reining is very technical.

In working cow horse the spins are but a mere quick turn and generally just one or two and horses more compressed, upright, controlled, doesn’t has to be as smooth and footwork perfect as they are judged in reining.

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Thanks Bluey, so much! I appreciate knowing what I"m looking for now.
Seeing lots of this on horse sale videos local to me and I guess I’ve seen some pretty rough work. What you describe and comparing it to the pirouette, it makes more sense.

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As someone who had kids and grand kids in many disciplines --I learned never to tell you to clean your backyard --mine had enough trash in it!

As to Western Horses being lame, while I agree with Goodhors, I think this statement could be applied to every upper level horse in every discipline. As others have said, there is fault to be found in other disciplines --training practices that are not good for horses. I’ve seen trainers, parents, and kids use harsh methods to train the beautiful in hand movements of Showmanship.

Specifically as to the spin, it has no more relevance to Western Riding than driving a 4-in-hand around man-made obstacles --of course both were born or necessity --as others have pointed out -but that necessity has long passed. Now we train it to demonstrate our skill in training the horse. As to the low, slow carriage of the WP horse --have you ridden one? I have one --left over from when the GD did 4-H (her thing was Showmanship, but the horse did WP too). He is a wonderful horse to ride. Calm, smooth, responsive. He’s my go-to horse for a walking trail ride --LOL --we used to kid GD that if we were going to trot, we’d wait all day for Max to make it back to the trailer --he had a really, really slow trot, and canter --but he wasn’t lame. Nor was he as exaggerated in movement as the top level horses.

The main reason I won’t criticize other disciplines is our event horse. He’s almost 30 now --lives a quiet life of retirement here in a green pasture with the WP horse for company. He has 4 bowed tendons, arthritis in both front legs. We did that to him. We asked that horse to jump huge fences for 15 years, at times doing 10 horse trials a year —that meant as many as 200-300 big fences every year and the practice fences on top of that. He did huge cross country courses at speed, stadium jumping, and dressage, not to mention the long distance hauling before and after.

Given a choice, that lovely horse would have preferred to live in a pasture with a buddy. We gave him the best care, best food, rested him between horse trials —but when you ask a horse to do that much --there is a price --sadly the horse pays it. If WP and Reining are someone’s ‘thing’ --I won’t say they are wrong —I will spend more time with the old event horse trying to pay him back for the joy he gave us with his performances.

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I think most of our events, english or western, were started for ways to show off our horses training. Unfortunately it has evolved into something where the horse in the arena wouldn’t be able to be ridden much in actual work. My dad, who is not a horse person and only went to a few of my shows once said out loud during a western pleasure class “why are those horses lame”. Someone who doesn’t know much could see how awful those horses moved. I’d like to say it has gotten better but I don’t think it has. It’s been this way for at least 30 years. I think that’s why ranch classes are getting more popular.

Our horses have to be able to work cows, be ridden through our steep hills, open/shut gates, etc. So while I do barrel racing, working cow horse events, my horses are work horses first. I think what bother’s me most is that the American Quarter Horse should be versatile, but they are so specialized. These horses can do SO MUCH more than what’s asked of them. It’s too bad. But to each their own. I love watch a reining horse spin but even that has become manufactured looking sometimes.

Also, to add to this, I hate seeing english horses at quarter horse shows. To me they are not english horses, they are just in the english tack. When I see an english horse move, they should be able to go over a jump, chase a fox, etc. The quarter horse shows have those english horses moving around with their heads way too low. It misses the point of the class completely.

I’m sure we all have our opinions, I don’t mean to judge anyone. I’m just thankful I get to ride and compete with my horses!

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    The quarter horse is identified as a Western horse, but the breed originated on the East coast as an all round riding horse in the late 18th century. The quarter horse was probably originally ridden in English tack before it became a western ranch horse.

You’re probably correct. I was just meaning that the way they are shown at quarter horse shows is not proper english in my opinion. A true english rider would not have their horse moving around the arena as they do at those shows. I just feel that at quarter horse shows they wear the clothes, put on the right tack, but it’s still not english. Just my thoughts, I’m sure lots would disagree with me.

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“Why do Reiners spin”?

  1. They can’t decide in which direction they really want to go.

  2. They are sensitive horses that, since they were born, have felt the need to synchronize themselves with the earth’s rotation, and not being good at mathematics are just doing their horsey best to make up for lost time.

Anyone else? :smiley:

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Love this… <3

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Well, I got your ignorance attack right here.

If you want to find lame horses, I’d sooner look in the roping pen than I would the Western Pleasure pen.

And you might be surprised how many roping horses never canter on the right lead.

As a cowboy explained it to me, “if you have a roping horse, you have a hock problem.” I had asked him about whether or not those guys do all the vet work and joint injections that I would do for my show horse. He said that this wasn’t so common until you got to “the big guys in Texas.” He explained that a roping horse’s job is so hard and short-- that sprint to the cow part-- that he can sublimate pain for that amount of time. But ask a horse to spend 7 or 8 minutes in a rail class where he’s got to display even, slow gaits? You’d better have him sound.

I agree that the worst of the WP horses’ movement is so distorted that I can’t see soundness vs. lameness. IME, when you put those horses on a lunge line and don’t tell them where to put their head, you can do a lameness exam.

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       What are you attacking me for?  I was not the one who said Western horses in any Western disciple WERE lame, I said that as someone who knows nothing about Western Pleasure, in the few times I’ve seen Western Pleasure show classes, in both the jog and the lope, but especially the lope, to me the horse LOOKS lame. It is very bizarre to me that a show discipline would have the ideal for a gait be such that the horse looks lame. 

          When you say that you agree that in Western Pleasure classes “the movement is so distorted that I can’t see lameness vs soundness” you’re AGREEING with me. 

        I had imagined that there was some high falutin explanation as to why the lame looking lope was in fact beautiful and functional, of which I was ignorant, but so far no one has supplied one. You certainly haven’t, as you agreed with me.
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