From Endurance to Dressage
Oh, man, this has become my new favorite movement. It's non-concussive, so there's not a lot of wear and tear on your horse, which means you can do a lot of them. While it does require a certain amount of strength, you can always modify it by only doing a quarter turn or simply make the circle bigger. What makes it so great is that it teaches your horse to sit and when done correctly, he gets really light in the bridle.
The turn on the haunches first shows up in Second Level, but it's a movement that you see again and again as you move up the levels. When we first started the turn on the haunches, I didn't really understand its role in the grand scheme of things, but I am starting to really see its value.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has had me use the walk pirouette to improve practically every other movement, like using it to help Speedy bend for the canter half passes. In the walk pirouette, the horse has to move in the direction of the bend, just like in the half pass. Chemaine recently suggested a new exercise that sharpened Speedy up instantly: walk pirouette to medium trot to walk pirouette to medium trot. Game changer.
The first time I tried the exercise, I used the center line so that I could use as much of a walk pirouette as I wanted. It took Speedy exactly two reps before he figured it out. Suddenly, he was shooting forward in the medium and rocking back in preparation for the next walk pirouette.
Since that went so well, I decided to use the pirouette in an exercise Chemaine had shown me a few weeks ago: walk pirouette to canter. Essentially, it's the same as doing a simple change of lead through walk, but with the added collection of the pirouette. Just like when we did it at the trot, Speedy's canter depart was crisper because he had his hind legs underneath himself.
The next way I used the walk pirouette was to help Speedy balance for the flying change. Since I haven't schooled them much lately, his left to right change had gotten a bit sticky, and his right to left change was rushed; a problem we've encountered before.
As we crossed the diagonal in canter, instead of asking for the change, I asked for a balanced canter-to-walk transition, and then moved straight into a walk pirouette. I did that several times, but on the next diagonal, I asked him for the flying change instead of the walk transition. Viola, much improved. Instead of rushing or getting stuck, he jumped into the new lead cleanly.
Walk pirouettes. Who knew they were so handy?
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: