The caracole or caracol was a turning maneuver on horseback in dressage and, as a military tactic.
In dressage, riders execute a caracole as a single half turn, either to the left or to the right. The military caracole as it is usually understood today developed in the mid-16th century AD in an attempt to integrate gunpowder weapons into cavalry tactics. Equipped with one or two pistols, cavalrymen would advance on their target at less than a gallop in formation as deep as 12 ranks. As each rank came into range, the soldiers would turn their mount slightly to one side, discharge one pistol, then turn slightly to the other side to discharge the other pistol at their target. Since this involved presenting an almost immobile target to the enemy infantry for some time, the temptation must have been strong to fire the weapons without taking an accurate aim. The horsemen then retired to the back of the formation to reload, and then repeat the maneuver.
The caracole was developed as a light cavalry tactic to be used in combination with the fully armoured lancers that made up the heavy cavalry in those times. Pistoleers were to disrupt infantry with their rolling fire, preparing the ground for the heavy cavalry to deliver a decisive charge.