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Dressage Movements Dictionary Part One

FILED UNDER: Riding Disciplines


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Jul 2010


Author: Katie


I am familiar with all the dressage terms, but sometimes I have trouble remembering what exactly each movement is. So I've compiled a mini dictionary for myself of dressage terms and movements complete with photos.

Canter Pirouette

This one is easy enough to remember, the name basically says it all. This movement is beautiful to watch and one of my favorites. A "Pirouette" is a French word meaning "to whirl about." and that is exactly what the horses do, they turn in place at the canter. This difficult maneuver is a three-beat action with a moment of suspension.

Extended Trot

Another one where the name describes the action, the extended trot is a stretched out trot complete with a lengthened and straightened foreleg. The purpose of this movement is to cover as much ground as possible.


The passage is a very powerful trot. Unlike the extended trot, the passage has a moment of suspension. The stride is a little shorter and choppier, almost like a dance step. The way I remember the difference between the Passage and the Piaffe, both which start with "Ps" and I have trouble remembering which is which, is that in the Passage the horse is moving, just like a person passing through would be moving. I have no clue what Piaffe means, but it sounds and is spelled a bit like Pilaffe which is a food and food is stationary. So the Passage moves forward, while the Piaffe stays more or less in place. I know that logic is a bit of stretch, but I find it helpful to keep them straight.


The piaffe is essentially a trot in place. It looks like the Passage but there is a lot less forward motion.

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