Walk and the Effect of Performing a Pirouette on Its Form
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Walk Pirouette compared to Free Walk
Walks Compared

PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Coming soon: Left pirouette will be added for comparison of symmetry in a horse's training. My seat and position will also be evaluated.

The walk for PIROUETTES is related to the COLLECTED WALK by its requirements for relaxation, horizontal and lateral balance, even bending in the spine, lightness and suppleness combined with strength. As the two reference frames below indicate, horizontal balance can be evaluated in stills and in motion by attention to the alignment of the grounded diagonal pair: in the collected walk they reach mid-stance nearly simultaneously.

Free walk diagonal balance (RF-LH) showing the relative phases of grounded hind limb (braking) and foreleg (thrust) to adjust the ground covered at each stride. Stride rate for this horse: 56 strides per minute Collected walk diagonal balance (RF-LH) showing the relative phases of grounded hind limb and foreleg nearly simultaneously at mid stance while the swing legs show more articulation at the joints (march). Stride rate for this horse, 53 strides per minute (same rate for his passage and piaffe)

The collected walk also covers less ground than the other walks, as indicated by the foreleg of the grounded diagonal in thrust mode while the hindlimb of the grounded diagonal is in braking mode. Because the collected walk is partially diagonalized on a grounded diagonal pair, its character is dominated by loft, energy and march in the swing limbs.

In the table below, two STRIDES from a walk pirouette right is being performed by the Morgan gelding Raynyday Maximillian. A comparison of these frames to free walk is HERE.

Max shows the need for even bend from poll to tail (where the camera angle permits this feature of alignment to be observed, his nose remains very close to the center of his chest). He also does not lean in the direction of the pirouette. Leaning is a sign of loss of lateral balance. Frames 2 and 7, Frames 6 and 11 are the same STEP moment in the two STRIDES shown. This makes it possible to see the same phase of a pirouette walk stride from different perspectives.

The importance of lateral balance is most easily seen in frames 5 through 9, where he controls his center of mass over the grounded legs while a swing leg is repositioned. Horizontal balance is indicated in frame 1, where the grounded diagonal RF-LH as well as RH are predominantly in support phase. The shift in balance toward the hindquarters, more marked than in collected walk, is indicated by the RH, ready for the next supporting phase of the stride. Note the position of the hind legs stepping under the hips during the movement.

Lightness is indicated by the soft rein "guided by gravity." I am out of position, tipped slightly to the inside in frames 1-3, and I made a slight shift of my seat in frames 11 and 12, so Max finally switched his tail at my failure to remain sufficiently quiet. Max generally forgives me these lapses...

Suppleness, relaxation and strength are indicated by the ability of Max to remain in horizontal and lateral balance while repositioning his forelegs (frames 9 and 12). Strength in his hindquarters is indicated by his willingness to position the inside hind under his inside hip.

The head bob of the walk is maintained during a walk pirouette. This should be kept in mind if you look at frames from your own digital video of walk pirouettes: in some of the frames the poll may appear to be too low. However, it should come to a position like that in frames 8-12 at some point in the exercise.

Because the collected walk is being performed on two circles (a small one enscribed by the hind legs and a larger one scribed by the forelegs), the stepping preserves the sequence of the walk but adjusts the relative amounts of ground covering by the forehand and hindquarters.

More later...

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