How do I teach my horse to pirouette?

Here, we catch up with international event rider Ludwig Svennerstal who offers his tips on how to get your horse started with learning pirouettes. 

Starting in walk helps your horse get a good understanding of the exercise

Starting in walk helps your horse get a good understanding of the exercise

Introducing pirouettes

This exercise can be done in walk or canter, but I'd suggest starting off in walk until your horse has a better understanding of it. Begin by walking in a large square in the middle of your arena and performing a quarter pirouette at each corner.

To ask for a quarter pirouette

  • Apply gentle but firm pressure with your inside calf
  • At the same time, apply a small amount of pressure from your outside leg to stop your horse from falling out 
  • Open your inside rein to the middle of the square, increasing the pressure slightly to help your horse understand where to go
  • Keep your outside rein still while maintaining a contact, again to ensure he doesn't fall out
  • Imagine doing a turn on the forehand, but you want to keep your horse to keep his weight over his quarters instead of his forehand. 
  • Your body language is really important, so look in the direction you want your horse to go in

As you're doing this exercise in walk to start, you can practice it for longer as it won't exert your horse too much. It will get him thinking in the right way before you ask for a full pirouette. 

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