The Rollback, by Craig Cameron
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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