In the June 2009 issue of Dressage Today, Olympian Hubertus Schmidt reveals his secrets for teaching pirouettes by going step by step so the horse is never over-faced.
In the following video, Schmidt trains his horse Donnelly at the Schmidt family farm, Fleyenhof, near Paderborn, Germany. As you watch this video, observe the following:
- Before beginning, Schmidt confirms the quality of Donnelly's throughness in an active but relaxed and consistent rhythm in both directions.
- Half passes confirm his horse's ability to retain throughness as he steps in the direction of the bend. This is a skill he will need in the pirouette.
- The horse learns to collect his canter on a 20-meter circle without losing the activity or the rhythm (not shown).
- When he is able to easily do that in both directions, he goes on to work in very large working pirouettes with short steps.
Schmidt makes this work look very easy because he never over-faces Donnelly. The canter work helped to make the trot very expressive, and Donnelly's walk at the end is very relaxed and confident.
Two important aspects to Schmidt's consistent successes: His reliance on an "eye on the ground" (his wife, Doris Schmidt), and the praising of his horse for a job well done.
Video by Katie Alms
Hubertus Schmidt is known as one of the most classical riders in the world. He has trained dozens of dressage horses to Grand Prix. He won team gold at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games with the mare Wansuela Suerte. The pair also won the individual silver medal at the European Championships in 2005. His family-owned training facility, Fleyenhof, is in Paderborn, Germany.
To read the article "5 Steps to a Perfect Pirouettes" by Hubertus Schmidt with Beth Baumert, see the June 2009 issue of Dressage Today. To order back issues, call 301-977-3900.