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The Rollback, by Craig Cameron

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Remember, two things all great performance  horses have in common are athletic ability  and quality training.   These great horses have been  taught to use their hindquarters effectively, and  outstanding hindquarter maneuvers translate  into balance and beauty.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that superior  horsemanship, be it cutting, reining, barrel racing,  jumping, dressage or any discipline, is a result  of solid fundamentals.   Teaching a horse to work  off his hindquarters with position and balance  is paramount and one of the keys to high-level  performance.

The rollback performed properly is a  maneuver to reverse directions quickly in a  confined area.   It is used extensively when  working cattle as well as in the sport of reining.   In a trail riding environment it might be the  difference between getting hurt or staying safe in  a dangerous situation.

Here is A BETTER WAY –  Back into the Rollback

A good way to teach your horse to pivot off  his hindquarters or if he’s sticky in his stops is to  use the back-up to teach him the rollback.   Hold a  rein in each hand, ask your horse to back a few  steps and as he’s backing, turn him, say to the  right, with your right rein.   The moment he initiates  the turn, release and ride off.   Stop again, back a  few steps and as he’s backing, turn to the left with  your left rein.   Release when he turns.   Ride off.

These exercises take you right into the  rollback.   It’s amazing how all of them work  together.   They build upon one another.   A true rollback is a 180-degree turn on the  hindquarters.   The difference between a rollback  and doubling is that you actually come to a stop  in the rollback before you make the turn.

Position yourself alongside the fence.   Start at the trot, if  you wish, to stay under control in the beginning.  You can always work up to the canter or lope.   As you trot along the fence, ask for a stop, sit  down in the saddle and say “whoa.” The second  your horse has stopped, but before he stands up  again, turn him into the fence with one rein.   Don’t pull your horse backward into the turn.   However, if your horse doesn’t work properly off  his hindquarters and gets sticky in his stops,  you might have to back him a step or two to help  him get back on his hocks.   Then turn him.   Some  horses are more natural and some are just a  little slower than others at learning to use their  hindquarters   When a horse stops correctly, he’s naturally  down on his hindquarters.   Use one rein, say, the  right rein if you’re moving down the fence on  your right.   Your horse should make a natural  pivot to the right.   You want your horse to be soft  and supple in his front end and that’s what you  accomplish by using one rein.   Just as in doubling, after you release your  right rein, for example at 90 degrees, use out side  or left leg pressure and lay your left rein against  the left side of your horse’s neck.   Again, rise  slightly out of your saddle to help your horse and  ride him out of the turn.   This is what will make him  handy in his rollbacks, just as in doubling.   Practice going down the fence in both  directions.   Offer your horse a loose-rein stop.   Sit  down and say “whoa.” If he doesn’t stop, use your  combination of reins to stop him.   For example, in  a left rollback, use more of your left rein to stop.   The combination would be to stop him with the  left rein and brace with the right rein.   By stopping  more with the left rein, your horse is naturally  prepared to go to the left.   Once he stops, then  roll him back with just the left rein and go.   Prepare for every move you do.   Just like my  friends Ray Hunt and the late Tom Dorrance have  always said: “Prepare and position for everything  you do.”  As many times as you practice the rollback,  your horse might anticipate the turn and  turn before you ask him to.   If he does, just stop,  walk forward or maybe make a small circle in the  opposite direction.   Keep him waiting on you.   The  reason? You want to be the leader and the horse  the follower.

Visit Craig Cameron’s website at  www.craigcameron.com

[published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 4, Issue 4.]

 

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