Teaching the Western Roll-back

teaching a roll-back

The roll-back is a vital maneuver for the western showpen, especially for reining and cowhorse class. Fortunately, it is a relatively simple maneuver once you break it down.

Prerequisites

1. Forward momentum

2. Even tempo

3. Square stop

4. Back straight

5. Yield forequarters (turn on the haunches)

6. Straightness through the body

7. Softness in the poll

8. Lightness on the bit

9. Collection/roundness

Teaching the Roll-back on the Fence

I always start roll-backs along a fence line. It gives a visual barrier to both horse and rider. You want to stay about a horse length off the fence.

1. Ride straight down the fence at a 45 degree angle.

2. Sit and stop square.

3. Immediately carry that forward momentum into a turn on the haunches (yield the forequarters). The angle will help encourage the horse to roll-back over his hocks. Over time you can lessen the angle until you are riding parallel to the fence.

4. Eventually you can do roll-back without the fence.

Keys to Success

1. Pick a stationary point on the fence in front of you and ride straight to it. This will help keep you centered.

2. Always keep your shoulders square with the shoulders of the horse.

3. Do not anticipate the turn. Make sure you stop square.

4. I skip the walk and start at a trot. I find that more momentum makes it easier.

5. Keeping your body straight will help keep the horse’s body straight.

Teaching the Roll-back off the Fence

If you don’t have a solid fence to teach the roll-back with, you can use the star method.

1. Pick a flat open area. Ride a five-pointed star. When you come to a point, sit and stop square.

2. immediately carry that forward momentum into a turn on the haunches (yield the forequarters). The horse will roll-back over his hocks.

3. Repeat. The five point start just keeps going so it’s easy for one roll-back to flow into another.

Keys to Success

1. Pick a stationary point on the fence in front of you and ride straight to it. This will help keep you centered.

2. Always keep your shoulders square with the shoulders of the horse.

3. Do not anticipate the turn. Make sure you stop square.

4. Skip the walk and start at a trot.

5. Don’t worry about making a perfect five-point star.

6. Keeping your body straight will help keep the horse’s body straight.

Common Rider Mistakes

1. Not stopping square

The rider anticipating the turn is just as bad — or worse — as the horse anticipating the turn. You can accidentally tech the horse to anticipate and create sloppy, rushed turns.

2. “Helping” the horse through the turn with their body

Don’t try to push the horse through the turn. Keep your shoulders square with his and keep your body straight to keep you both balanced. This is best thing you can do to help him make a smooth, balanced turn.

Bonus Content!

preview roll-back training guide
Preview (1/2)

Members of the EW Community can now download our Roll-back Training Guide for FREE. This guide includes the prerequisites, teaching steps, and keys to success for both methods discussed in today’s article. To download to full document, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Edward Dalmulder

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