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How to: Walk Pirouettes

Did you know... the walk pirouette is just haunches in? On a circle!

The walk pirouette first makes an appearance in Third Level but also shows up in Second Level as "Turn on the Haunches." We'll discuss the small differences in a little bit.

Ready to teach your horse the walk pirouette?

First, make sure your horse can...

  1. Maintain a steady walk rhythm. Forward and steady into the contact.

  2. Ride a leg yield and shoulder in at the walk, keeping the rhythm and steady contact mentioned above.

  3. Ride haunches in at the walk... either on a straight line or a diagonal line (half pass).

When your horse can do these things reasonably well, we can introduce the walk pirouette.

  • Start by riding a half pass in the walk (haunches in on a diagonal line). Keep the walk rhythm steady and think forward!

  • While riding in haunches in, start to turn a 10 meter circle. Keep your eyes looking and your chest turning on the line of the circle. Do your best to have your horse maintain the haunches in position.

  • Only ride the turn/circle for a few strides... a quarter of a circle. Then ride straight out into a half pass. This way you teach your horse to always keep that hind leg stepping up and under!

When your horse is first learning this movement, the size of your turn will be quite large. That's ok! It needs to be so your horse can maintain the clarity of the walk rhythm. Even in this movement, the walk needs to maintain four clear beats. We don't want a foot to "stick" and have the pirouette turn into a pivot. Keep thinking "forward" even as your turning.

This is also why in Second Level, turn on the haunches is asked for rather than a pirouette. While the movement and position of the horse's body is the same for both, in "turn on the haunches" at Second Level, we're not expecting the walk to be quite as collected and the turn to be quite as tight as it needs to be to execute the pirouette asked for at Third Level and above.

Give it a try! Let me know what you think!

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