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Improving Turnarounds More with Les


n this session, we’re going to go back to turnarounds. As always, the most important part is the neck: Start at the

front and work your way back. With the body controls that you have developed in your exercises, you have the ability to fix almost any problem. Moreover, remember, if you’re having trouble in the turnaround, don’t fix the maneuver; stop the maneuver and fix the problem. Now up until this point you’ve been doing

some real relaxed turnarounds while your horse learned what you wanted and where to put his feet. Now we’re going to try a few different things, and each will have a litle different effect on your turns. First, every once in a while I want you to do a really collected turn, where you’re using both your legs to kick the horse’s back legs right up under his front and really making him bend in the middle and drop his head low. Once you have him collected you can release with your inside leg, or both for that mater, depending on the response you’re geting from him. While you’re doing this, you want to feel like you can put his head almost any- where you want it and have him at any level of collection, while still maintaining the same cadence. Both of you will build confi- dence from this. So many times, as people learn to turn

their horses around, their main concern is how to stabilize the pivot foot. What you need to realize is that we are training from the front to the back. Get the front correct, and the back will follow. If at this stage in the game the horse is crossing over nicely in front but is still moving his back end a litle, I’m okay, I don’t worry, even if it lasts a few months. I don’t ever look down for that pivot foot, and I don’t worry about it. The pivot foot happens if you ride forward into your turns. The old-timers used to tell me to keep forward motion in my spins, and I thought, “Now they want a pivot foot and forward motion, so the horse has to get longer and longer.” I just didn’t get it. What they meant was that with the correct bend, you’re get-

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Today Les focuses is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit

ting forward motion; it’s just around a cor- ner into the spin! So how do you sta-

bilize that back end, if it’s really moving around? You have tools. You can use your outside leg to stabilize the hip, but be careful because using your outside leg or spur can make your horse’s ribcage invert! I call it D.R.A.T.— Dreaded Reverse Arc Tendency. It’s deadly in a turn: head goes to the outside, and suddenly all the mechanics go wrong! So you can use a lit- tle leg on the outside but be careful. You can also use your

“cluck” as a condi- tioned response. You can gallop into your spins, which is a great way to do it. Gallop in, driving the back end up to the front, spiral down and cluck. Occasionally you can use a litle spur, but if you do it much you will find you’ll get in trouble. If your horse still continues to step out behind rather than keeping his hind legs still, gallop him into his spins and chase him back out—you’ll see me demonstrate this on the video. You can also pop him with the rein down the outside leg just as you come into the spin. If the neck and angle are right, his back leg motor is going to be powering up and geting underneath him.

Note how soft my inside rein is. Since you’re going to have to do your turnarounds with one hand at some point, you don’t want to become reliant on your inside rein. Only use it when you need to.

So you’re powering him into the turn and then just leting the turn happen. Loading and unloading. What we see a lot of is the forced maneu-

ver, not only in reining but in cow horse as well. I know you’ve seen it, where the rider is dragging the horse through the turn- around rather than seting them up so they can unload into the maneuver, so the horse looks like he loves to turn, because he does! So I’ll charge him up, I’ll cluck, and he’ll

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