• classicallegacy


By Frances Carbonnel


Well, that was a bit challenging, but fun. Now comes the CHOREOGRAPHY!

Start by being sure you understand and can execute really well EVERY required element required at your freestyle level. Some movements must be ridden both to the right and to the left, and YOU CANNOT forget ANY of them! Before you compose your pattern, ride those elements individually several times, and time them so you know how long they take. Also, how long does it take you to ride around a short side of the arena? This will give you an idea of how to match up musical phrases with movements later on.

Be creative with the combination of movements, avoiding things that are too much like existing tests, and combine moves that show an increased level of difficulty when appropriate. Don’t chop the gaits up too much-for instance, it’s best to do all the trot, then the walk, then all the canter, and not do trot, canter, walk, canter, trot, especially at the levels where there is much less canter than trot to be shown. When you do your music editing later, you will be thankful you kept it simple.

Choreography tips:

1) Maximize your horse’s strong points and find ways to minimize his weak ones.

2) If your horse has a poor walk or trot lengthening, do it AWAY from the judge and ONLY the required amount.

3) If your horse has a very thick tail that obscures the judge’s view, do your serpentines, leg yields, shoulder in’s, and half passes toward the judge.

4) Trot and canter lengthenings look better on diagonals toward the judge.

5) Don’t begin or end in the walk, because you want to start and end with a splash.

6) Endless curved lines in lower level freestyles, just to fill up some time, are a no-no. Better to make things short, sweet and to the point! Your judge will thank you.

7) Your freestyle must be under a prescribed time limit. However, your time begins at your first salute, and ends with your last one. Your entrance music doesn’t count toward that time, but you must be dropping your hand to begin 45 seconds after the judge blows the whistle.

8) Design in such a way that you can either turn a little sooner or a go a little deeper into a corner, in case you and your horse get ahead or behind the music. A little “wiggle room” can be a life saver!

Now you have your basic dance pattern, or so you think. What comes next is to synchronize it with your chosen music. This is where things get complicated. Read on!

Learn more about Frances at and at

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