Manolo Mendez Dressage

Introduction to Pirouettes

by Manolo Mendez Specialist of in-hand and Classical Equitation with writer Caroline Larrouilh

This article originally appeared in Issue 12 of Baroque Magazine (September 2013, pg. 40)

Article Excerpt: Introduction to Pirouettes

A correctly executed pirouette is a thing of beauty, a perfect storm of collection, impulsion, suppleness, strength and balance. At canter, it is one of the most physically demanding movement we can ask of our horse. It is a test of a trainer’s ability to develop self- carriage and a horse that is completely attentive and responsive to the aids. A horse filled with power and expression, yet focused and tension free.

Before we ask our horse for the more difficult canter pirouette, training logic and progression dictates that we first teach him the walk pirouette, beginning with the 1/4, then 1/2, 3/4 and then full pirouette.

A good pirouette is light, fluid and harmonious. It requires suppleness. strength and balance.

The FEI directions for the walking pirouette are almost the same as for the canter pirouette. According to article 413 of the FEI Guideline for Dressage Event “The pirouette (half-pirouette) is a turn of three hundred and sixty (360) degrees (hundred and eighty -180- degrees) executed on (2) tracks, with a radius equal to the length of the horse and the forehand moving around the haunches.”

For our horse to meet the objectives of this definition, there are several conditions that must be in place.

First however, it is important to understand what a pirouette is. Besides being a movement in a test Pirouettes are a part of the lateral work family along with shoulder fore, shoulder-in, shoulder-in out, half- pass, travers and renvers...Read More on

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