10 Easy Tips to get YOU Started Riding to Music
NOTE: This article focuses on “Tempo” (the beat). Precondition for finding tempo is relaxation and RHYTHM (regularity).
Please see an article on Rhythm here.
As we follow the Olympics (or not…) or view Youtube videos of the classic ‘Pas de Deuxs’ of yesteryear or spunky dressage Freestyles of today, we may get the idea of riding to music ourselves. Not a dressage rider? Never done this before? No problem! You do not have to wear any special kind of pants to have fun with music.
For those, who have never tried this and would like to give it a shot, here some tips
1. Getting the ‘horse to move in the beat’
Hmm… this is actually not how it works. It works the other way around! Find your horse’s natural beat (Tempo) in all three gaits and certain exercises (according to your schooling level) by determining Beats Per Minute (BPM). Thanks to modern mobile technology, that’s easy with a Smartphone app such as the Android App BPM Tap. This video shows how it works.
Have someone tap the beat on the Smartphone while you ride and write down the respective bpm for trot, canter, for example.
Here a similar app for the iPhone: Beat Counter for iPhone
If you prefer to take a video of your horse under rider and then determine the needed bpm on your desktop, this is the app for you: BPM Online Counter for Desktop
Here the average BPMs – your horse, depending on size and breed – may differ from this!
- Walk – between 50-65 BPM
- Trot – between 75-90 BPM
- Canter – between 95-110 BPM
- Passage/Piaffe – between 60-65 BPM
2. Determine the kind of music you like
What type of music do you like? Classical, Pop, Rock, Reggae? Dig around in your CD collection, on your MP3 player, your iTunes, record collection or on Pandora.com.
Unsure? Let your horse guide you! What type of guy or gal is your horse? Daredevil or sensitive flower? What kind of expression do you have as a pair? Serious, sense of humor, goofy, elegant? Have fun with this!
3. Find the songs with your horse’s BPM
Oh my! Just when we thought this was going to be easy. Here a good way to start:
- Go to Equimusic.com, a free resource created by Michael Matson, creator of the “Dancing Horse Fund” or to the very comprehensive, searchable BPM Database.
- Enter the desired BPM in the search field and ‘enter’ to bring up search results.
- Browse the songs and listen to the song (youtube, iTunes, etc.) to develop a feel for the beat.
You can either use the suggested songs or find one with a similar beat in your own collection. In that case, double-check with your BMP tap app.
4. Create a log of suitable music per gait.
A great tool is Evernote. You may just be sitting at Starbucks and hear a song that may work for your horse’s trot, tap the beat, confirm, and want to remember that song later! Evernote will work across all your mobile and desktop devices.
5. Create a first practice routine
Motto: Keep it simple and make it short and sweet! Have fun! Just ride in the arena and experiment, then write down what your’d like to do and practice a few times.
Once your are relatively secure, have a friend time the different sequences or take a video so you can time them yourself.
6. Assign music to sequences
Decide which of your selected pieces would be fun to combine and write down your plan.
7. Be the mix master!
Purchase (if needed) the music and mix to match your routine. A useful tool I like and that is also recommend by Equimusic, is the open source application Audacity.
8. Load and go!
Load your mix on your mobile device, get the ear phones going or hook up to your arena speakers and give it a whirl!
9. Some don’ts…
- Do not try and force your horse into a beat just because you like the song!
- Your horse has ears, too! Heavy Metal may not be the best choice.
- When it comes to speaker volume: As high as necessary, as low as possible.
- Mix it up and create built-in walk breaks. Be mindful of your horse’s fitness level!
10. Last not least…
- Don’t be surprised if your horse shows a side of his/her personality that you did not know yet. You will feel different and so will your horse!
- Riding to music can be addictive. You will never listen to the car radio the same way!
Most of all, make this an activity you BOTH can enjoy and keep in mind that it’s easier to overdo it when you are having fun…
As always, enjoy your horse!
Reinhold’s Horse Wellness