Manolo Mendez on Pirouette (Part II of III): Introducing the Walk Pirouette

(© Manolo Mendez and Caroline Larrouilh. First published Baroque Horse Magazine, July 31, 2013. Image Courtesy Manolo Mendez Dressage.)

How I Introduce the Walk Pirouette

To introduce the walk pirouette, several methods can be used.

Turn on the haunches: Some riders ask for a turn on the haunches and then make the turn smaller and smaller. Sometimes the term turn on the haunches is used to describe a pirouette. This is not quite correct. A turn on the haunches is different from a pirouette in two ways; it is asked for in a slowed medium walk instead of a collected walk, and the hind legs travel on a wider circle then what is required in a pirouette which requires the inside hind leg lifts and drops in the same footprint.

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The Adventures of Amerigo: Flying White Horse of Sinterklaas

(© 2017 Kip Mistral.)

Strictly speaking, this post about the flying white horse Amerigo, who makes the overnight gift deliveries of the Dutch and Belgian holiday character “Sinterklaas” possible, is belated as Amerigo does his thing on December 5th. But having just found out about him, I wanted to share a little bit of the story since after a lifetime of being used to nine reindeer pulling Santa Claus’ sleigh, seeing the image of a horse standing on a roof gable was utterly charming.

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Andy Marcoux on Building Balance From the Ground Up, Part I: Training Your Horse to Stand

(© Andy Marcoux 2017. Photographs Courtesy Andy Marcoux.)

A well-executed halt must start with the ability for the horse to remain still in a given spot, for a given period of time. [In a dressage test] You will first be judged on your horse’s immobility. Only when that’s in place can we look at all of the cool other things that go into a great halt. You can add balance, engagement, and energy only after you’ve convinced the horse that remaining still in place is a priority of yours.

Recently I was reading an article here on Kip Mistral’s site written by Sherry Ackerman, PhD, titled Sacred Geometry and the Figures of the Manège, when a single sentence hit me like a nuclear dope-slap …”All movement begins with its antithesis, immobility.” The paragraph in the article referring to the halt is some of the best writing I’ve seen on the subject.

The article also got me thinking about the training that I use to teach a horse how to achieve immobility. In my article The Origin of Movement (link provided below) I describe how I use my training techniques to essentially capture the horse’s energy, rather than diffuse or dull it until the horse is so deathly bored that standing seems like the only reasonable thing to do.

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Conversations with Eventer Kim Walnes: On Love, Trust and Soaring

(© by Kim Walnes 2017. Photograph by Elizabeth Preznikoff.)

I have always loved this photo. It speaks to something in the heart…that dream all us horse girls have had of the winged white horse who comes to us, invites us to mount, and carries us off through the air to the fulfillment of all our wishes.

The Gray Goose might as well have had wings…I’ve never sat on such immense yet smooth power. His long back made the ride comfortable, and he didn’t have any trouble jumping over pretty much anything that came in his path. When he left out strides, which we both loved to do, it truly was like flying.

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Manolo Mendez on Pirouette (Part I of III): Principles of Training the Walk Pirouette

(© Manolo Mendez and Caroline Larrouilh. First published Baroque Horse Magazine, July 31, 2013. Image Courtesy Manolo Mendez Dressage.)

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 movements 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.

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