Friday, October 9, 2009


Does anyone out there ride to music?

I've seen some dressage musical freestyles, and I would LOVE to try one sometime. There's, um, only a limited amount you can do at my level - you basically get three tempos! - but at the upper levels it's amazing. If you have never seen the famous freestyle from Blue Hors Matine ridden by Andreas Helgstrand, do yourself a favor and go watch it.

On the other hand, I watched a fellow member of my pony club practicing her Training-level musical freestyle on her big warmblood mare, and it was so cool. You don't have to ride at a super high level to be able to put some really good music to your ride - the girl in my club did a freestyle to music from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, and it was awesome. So every once in awhile I go through all my music and think, "Hmm, this would be fun to work into a freestyle...Ooh, and this one too..." But, I've never actually gotten around to doing it.

Sometime in the next few weeks I'm going to bring my mp3 player to the barn and try riding to some of those songs so I can get a sense for what Pandora's tempo is at each gait. Then, who knows - maybe I will put together a simple little freestyle, just for fun! I think it would be enjoyable. Not to mention that extra help with a solid rhythm can never hurt.

I imagine it's quite hard to balance choosing songs that you like and songs that would work well for a freestyle. If you watch the video I linked to, there was a medley of several different songs, none with vocals. I've done similar performances at the band leadership camp I attend every summer - only it's called a specialty, and it's done with conducting, marching, or flagwork. Each year I do a partner specialty with the girl who was my co-drum major, and it's a lot of fun. So far we've done them to AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds," the Prince Ali song from Aladdin, and Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero." I think the Aladdin one was my favorite, as we worked in a lot of funny things.

Words work well for that, since you need some material to act out while working in conducting at the same time. You can't exactly act things out with a horse, though, so maybe it would be better to do a song without lyrics.

There's an instrumental song I love - I think it's the theme from Boondock Saints - but it's rather distinctly Irish and would be definitely more suited to someone riding an Irish Draught or Irish Sport Horse.

Anyway, I'll let you know once I figure out some tempos and good songs to use.

Anyone else ride to music, for performance or just for fun while you're schooling? Do you find it helps you settle into a rhythm? Has anyone performed a musical freestyle before?


Leah Fry said...

I sing Christmas carols, does that count?

Heather said...

I ride precision drill team - we ride EVERYTHING to music. For us, the beat of the music is horribly important. (Though not everyone on the team gets that - I have constant debates with some of the riders about the fact that No, Connie Francis is NOT fast enough to ride to!) Anyhow, search youtube for RC Riders. We won our state fair this year with a bridle-less quad which is slower. Search for RC Freedom Riders Bridleless. Enjoy!

Cara said...

Always wanted to, never had/made the opportunity.

Beth said...

The barn kids moved a radio into the indoor where I ride and for extra fun I turn it on. I haven't (for many years) purposefully tried to ride to music, but having it on in the background can be...interesting. It's fun to see how the music effects your riding even if you're not aware of it! I recommend hooking yourself up to speakers so Pandora can hear. I noticed if I rode in headphones my horse would get irritated, I guess because they don't hear it.

manymisadventures said...

Sure, singing can count! I sing old camp songs to my horses when they're nervous.

Heather, I watched a video of the bridle-less team - that's awesome! I would love to play around with something like that with one of my girls. McKinna is the probably the better choice - she neck reins, and I've jumped her without a bridle before.

How long does it typically take to put together a performance like that?

JeniQ said...

Hi great blogs! While I do not do formal Dressage to music, I've been known to school to a good driving beat song list. It helps me keep us in rhythm.

jenj said...

Years ago I went to a clinic where we learned how to create freestyles. The most important things I remember are that you need to figure out your horse's tempo at all three gaits, and that walk and canter tempos are often the same so you can use the same music. Pick music that is the same tempo as your horse's gaits or maybe a bit faster, since if it's slower it will look like your horse is dragging. Don't make too many changes with the music as it will make your ride "sound" choppy. Change what you're doing when the musical phrases change - for example, ride a circle for one phrase, a diagonal for another, etc. Also, pick music that you like and that will fit your horse - it takes a lot of time and energy to do the choreography and make the music work, so you need something you like enough to stick with for a while. Music without words is best because words can distract from your ride, and music with a good beat is easier for you to hear and easier for the judges to see how it fits your horse. And finally, pick pieces that are of the same genre - swing songs, everything Madonna, whatEVER, but don't put Beethoven with the Beatles.

There's a YouTube video of a LOVELY ride (it's not me, I just like the ride) with fantastic music that fits the horse:

Someday, I too will get my act together and put together a freestyle. Or perhaps even a pas de deux or quadrille, if I can sucker enough friends into doing one...

Andrea said...

So what do you think of the freestyle with Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas? Perfect music.... freak of nature horse.

I want to do a freestyle with Gogo to music from the Wizard of Oz (JUST so I can trot around to the Wicked Witch's theme music), or do one to Franz Ferdinand songs. Bring some fun back into dressage.

manymisadventures said...

Jenj, those are some awesome tips! Thank you and I will definitely keep those in mind.

I think a freestyle to Wizard of Oz music would be perfect for Gogo. (Don't tell, but I have a secret desire to see someone riding a giant warmblood mare do one to 'Fat Bottomed Girls' by Queen. In this I definitely agree - freestyles should be FUN.)

Gal and Totilas are just...insane. It's amazing. Didn't they set a new record for highest score ever?

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