• classicallegacy


Updated: Jul 7, 2019

By Frances Carbonnel

Part One: Finding your Music

No doubt about it, the composition of a musical freestyle IS a complex process, and can be intimidating enough to send riders to a professional consultant, but here are some tips for you when you are considering competing in this most satisfying discipline, or riding an exhibition.

You already know what level you will be riding (see note at end of Part Three), you have ridden to music enough to have mastered riding to a steady rhythm, and now you are ready to move forward.

If you have ridden your horse for a long time, you probably can close your eyes and feel the beat of his gaits. But now you must translate that into Beats Per Minute, or BPM, to help you select appropriate music.

There are phone Apps such as "Soundcorset" which contain a metronome and also a little drum icon which you can tap in time. It will tell you automatically the BPM. Have a friend video you and your horse at your best Walk, Trot (or Jog), and Canter(Lope), or even better, if you have a video of you two in a test that scored well, use that, and figure out your BPM’s for W/T/C. Now you need to find music whose BPM's match your horse. You can be within about 5 BPM's either way for a good music editor to be able to sync you and your horse, but more than that, the music will begin to sound distorted.

My guess is that you already have in the back of your mind some music you think you would love to ride to-your imagination begins to soar as soon as you hear it. But here are a few caveats about choice of music to help you come down to earth a bit and find something that will be technically as well as emotionally satisfying.

First and foremost, don’t pick music based on lyrics you love. Lyrics have become more acceptable of late in the ring, but believe me, the Judge will be too busy figuring out how to score the technical merits (Are all the required elements presented? Both directions? How well did you perform them?) as well as deciding on the interpretation of your chosen music (crescendos/lengthenings, changes of gait to a musical change, etc.) the harmony between you and your equine partner, etc. to have time to listen to lyrics. In fact, if they are too distracting, it may negatively affect your artistic score! Please, no heavy political, social or moral messages-this is supposed to be fun and entertaining! Use lyrics very judiciously, if you use them at all.

Now you must find music that fits your horse’s BPM at all three gaits, and that is of a similar genre. Don’t combine Star Wars, Country/Western, and Vienna Waltz, for example. Use all Broadway Show Tunes, or all Spy Movies themes, etc. Common sense dictates that you should avoid music that carries a strong association, like the Jaws theme, or the “beef, it’s what for dinner” theme. You get the idea. Stay away from minor keys, and if you have a pony, don’t go for big bombastic music, or cutesy light stuff for an imposing mover. Your music should fit the horse, and if possible, make him look a bit better when you play his video against the music. You should say ”Wow!” not just “That’s nice.” It often happens that what you initially think will work is disappointing, or he looks good to something, but you just can’t find the beat when you ride it. Don’t get discouraged- this is crucial to your success and worth the effort to find just the right song!

In my next post, we’ll tackle your Choreography.

Learn more about Frances at and at

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