I’M LOVING the walk pirouettes atm. It’s a great exercise for so may reasons: slowing down the hot horse, increasing coordination and side bend, and preparing for the canter pirouettes. In the walk pirouette the horse is asked to move his forehand in an arc around his hindquarters. The walk pirouette should be done more or less on the spot with the inside hind leg stepping up and down pretty much in place as the shoulders are turned (you can also do the turn-on-the-haunches which is allowed to make larger). There should be a bend, in the direction of the turn, and the inside hind must step up and down more or less on the spot with the shoulders turning smoothly around the hind legs. (This movement used to be in the Grand Prix test as if judges could see how well the walk pirouettes were executed, they could tell how well the piaffe was going to be performed. An active hind leg and quick response to the rider’s aids in the pirouette usually bode well for piaffe.)
The walk pirouette is a non-brilliance movements. This means that the quality of the gait is not taken into consideration, just the rhythm. So, any horse with correct training can receive a 10 on this move! This is a great place to pick up points, so practice practise practise.
The rider must sit in the direction of the turn, on the inside seat bone. (Common fault is the rider is leaning to the outside, trying to keep the haunches from falling out. This only causes the horse to lose balance and step wide, and then the shoulders cannot keep up with the hind legs and there will be a stuck step.) Think of a walking half pass, the rider should be in the same position as half pass, and the horse should be in the same position as well just with less bend. Then the rider should be able to turn the horse around the inside hind leg a few steps without changing his position or the position of the horse.
Photo of Firenze doing the walk pirouette at our training away from home today!