My “pirouette pony”

Just watching dressage, it always seemed to me that the canter pirouette was one of the coolest movements ever.

And now that I’ve experienced it myself, it really IS cool. Fling did a SUPER canter pirouette yesterday. How could I possibly know this, you ask, since I am just a beginner at this stuff? Sometimes you just know. Fling had gotten reliably good at walk pirouettes, and as odd as it sounds, the cante pirouette and the walk pirouette are very similar in respect to your position on the horse, and your horse’s movements. In the walk pirouette, I finally was able to identify that to do good ones, I had to really sit on my inside seatbone, make sure Fling was properly bent around my leg, and then almost feel like my inside seatbone was the ‘pivot’ point and she just rotated, on the spot, underneath that point. This is what makes dressage so hard – this was one of those things I just had to figure out on my own. I am sure different people have a different mental imagery of how they achieve the correct feeling.

I’ve also been mulling over the similarities between half pass and walk and canter pirouettes. Fling has a definite ‘gift’ for half passes. Not every horse is good at everything. The extended gaits will always be a stretch for her. But despite having a very short back, and a short-ish neck, she’s learned to bend well enough to execute a really good half pass at both trot and canter. I think she is heading the same way with canter pirouettes and I got to wondering if that was because the movements were so similar.

I have finally figured out the best way to warm her up and don’t get frustrated that she does not ‘come out of the box’ a third level horse each time. We do lots of lateral work at walk, but I am moving to trot quicker, but continuing the lateral work in trot before we move on to canter work.

Last night her canter work was awesome from the get-go. We ran through some of the things that are more difficult for her – canter half pass to the right has typically been her weakest half pass work. She nailed it last night.  Interestingly enough, her more difficult walk pirouette is to the left.  The super good canter pirouette she did last night was to the right.  In general, her canter is better to the right. Sometimes that ‘disconnect’ is not entirely her – I think sometimes it’s me.

I think the reason the pirouette was so much better this time is that I have also realized that I need to stay centered over her back – I noticed in the walk pirouette that if I turned my head too far to the inside or outside, that disrupted my position just enough to negatively influence the walk pirouette. I have to keep my focus, my body, everything, centered ‘between her ears’ so to speak – or her inside ear, but I cannot look to the inside any more than that.  I think that is what turned her ‘schooling’ pirouette into an honest to gosh real pirouette. I ‘sat” on my seatbone, stayed centered over her, and she just pivoted around my seatbone. Magical.

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