Pirouette (horsemanship)

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Gallop pirouette, performed by a rider of the Cadre Noir
Pirouette from right to left, photo by Henry L. de Bussigny 1922

A pirouette is a movement of the horse in equestrian art and a lesson in dressage riding . Especially the "turn around the hindquarters galloping" belongs "to the Higher campaign - and High School " on, "as they carried out correctly, already such a degree of collection requires, as it only after several years of training may be required and only above average beanlagten horses ".

Pirouettes are ridden as a step, canter and piaffe pirouette on two hoof beats . The forehand moves in a circle around the hindquarters, which however also describes a very small circle around a center point as close as possible to the inner hind leg. The inner rear foot stands out clearly from the ground and rests “in the same place or only very slightly in front of it” or describes a “small circle as possible”. The horse is most gathered and is placed and bent in the direction of motion; the pirouette is a sideways movement, but by definition does not belong to the side movements .


The canter pirouette is usually performed as a full, half or double pirouette, the whole (360 degrees) in 6 to 8 gallop jumps , the half (180 degrees) in 3 to 4 jumps. The horse should jump evenly in (three) beats in as close a circle as possible, neither simply twisting around the inner hind leg, nor jumping with both hind legs at the same time. A military instruction from 1743 states:

A hussar must be able to frolic in a place like a plate on his horse and turn as he wants. "

During the pirouette, every single gallop jump should be ridden: "like with a gallop". Attention must also be paid to keeping the beat . The inner gluteal bone is more stressed, the inner thigh is driving on the girth and provides the necessary flexing of the ribs, the shortened inner rein gives the horse the position and acts sideways, but must not block the inner hind leg. The outer leg lies behind the girth and ensures that the horse is led around with the other aids , while the outer rein acts as a guardian and limits the position.

The step pirouette, usually carried out as a half pirouette (180 degrees), is a turn on the hindquarters from the assembled step in a clear four-beat, and is performed from movement into movement, while the hindquarters turn in the narrower sense in the middle step according to international guidelines is ridden from hold to hold and allows a larger radius of the hindquarters of about 50 cm. "After finishing the step pirouette, the horse is put straight ahead and [...] is made to walk straight ahead".

The piaffe pirouette is ridden at 180 ° or 360 °. A change of direction is possible in the piaffe pirouette.

The horse must have such a degree of permeability in these lessons that “the rider is always able to interrupt the sideways movement and convert it smoothly and without hesitation into a straight one”. Of course, the rhythm and momentum of the pirouette must not be lost.


According to the guidelines, the prerequisites for the gallop pirouette are 1. "Safe control of the assembled gallop" with increased bending of the hind legs and load bearing on the hindquarters, 2. the horse should "control the gallop traversals on both hands" and 3. the horse should "be able to to perform some shortened gallops in a high gathering ”.

Prerequisites for the step pirouette are the hindquarters turn, the short turn and the collected step "which is developed through frequent riding of transitions".

Preparatory exercises

For practice purposes you can first do quarter pirouettes and then half pirouettes. The guidelines recommend the following exercises, especially for working out the canter pirouette :

  • Quarter pirouettes on the square
  • Reduce the size of the circle in the traverse and enlarge the circle in shoulder-in or shoulder-in front if the circle is initially large enough (can be practiced in trot and canter)
  • Reduce the size of the circle and enlarge it again as above, only in tighter turns
  • Gradual transition to a work pirouette with a large circular arc, further reduction for a few jumps
  • traverse-like reduction in size of turnaround volts
  • Turn from the outside canter about 2 to 3 m away from the hoofbeat when reaching the short side in the direction of the gang

Seunig recommends working out the canter pirouette with the involvement of Travers and Renvers: Reversing volte in Travers (= Passade) from the second corner of the long side, continued about five to eight paces away from the gang in outer canter, transition to Renvers canter and just before the corner half pirouette.


The guidelines name the most common mistakes

  • Clock disturbances: the three-beat in canter and the four-beat in walk are not retained
  • missing feet and instead rotating the hind legs (as in western riding) or sticking the inner hind leg to the ground
  • Step back in the turn
  • arc too large
  • Throwing the horse around (missing inner thighs) instead of being led around in an orderly manner in the previously established rhythm

Individual evidence

  1. a b Seunig, p. 223
  2. Seunig, p. 217
  3. Guidelines , p. 40
  4. a b c Guidelines , p. 81
  5. quoted from Seunig, p. 312
  6. FEI Rules For Dressage Events , § 413
  7. a b Guidelines , p. 41
  8. Guidelines , p. 82
  9. Guidelines , pp. 82–85
  10. Seunig, p. 310
  11. Guidelines , p. 42f.
  12. Guidelines , p. 86f.


  • Guidelines for riding and driving. Vol. 2: Advanced training . Edited by the German Equestrian Association (FNverlag), 12th edition, Warendorf 1997, ISBN 3-88542-283-2
  • Waldemar Seunig: From the paddock to the caper. The training of the riding horse . With an afterword by Bertold Schirg. 2. Reprint of the edition Berlin 1943, Hildesheim etc. 2001 ( Documenta Hippologica ), ISBN 3-487-08348-5

Web links

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