If youíre thinking this all seems a lot of very hard work, youíre partly right. That was actually the relatively easy part. The hard part comes next - the matching of the music to the BPM. You may opt to ride Freestyle test with Music, as in finding general background music that isnít matched exactly to the horseís footfalls. This isnít very inspiring to watch and it wonít be scored very highly either! I believe it is worth taking all that extra time as the end result - of Dressage to Music - is so much more pleasing.
Do spare a thought for the judge. If a piece of music is very popular, be aware that others will use it too. How many times, do you think a judge wants to hear Glen Miller, for example, in one competition!
I have a vast collection of CDs in my music library, many picked up at car boot sales and charity shops for a £1 or less. There is also an unlimited collection available to download online, too.
Now, unless youíre a very artistic sort of person, it is much easier to do the choreography and then find the music to fit it than it is to find the music and then design a routine around it.
So, you have you horseís BPMs and you can now set to work on finding the music to match his strides, style and personality. Whilst light, airy pieces will suit a TB or an Arab, they would not do for a chunky Cob.
Do you want to go for a theme; music from a stage show or Western films or would you prefer a style of music; jazz, swing, baroque? Do not be tempted to mix and match; find a theme or style and stick with it!
The general rule is for three different pieces of music for the walk, trot and canter. Be careful not to make any abrupt changes between them. Using fading in and out can help smooth the transitions up and down, unless you know you can really ride them to the music.
Check the minimum and maximum time allowed for your test. 4 mins min, 5 mins max for Novice, and aim to run the midway point of 4.30 to allow for slightly slower or quicker playback on other machines, and differences in going.
The actual test is timed between the move off from your first halt to the salute at the end of the test. You can - and I recommend it - have up to 20 seconds of music to make your entry to. This can be a great attention grabber as it can be humorous, playful or just a great emphasiser of your horseís trot rhythm. Just make sure youíre in the right place get to your first halt at the correct moment when you signal the person who is going to start your music. Leave a gap of however many seconds you need to make your salute and regather your reins and then, off you go!
You must chose music that you really like because you are going to have to listen to it endlessly and know it inside out. As the test is not ridden to the markers, you have to know where all the nuances are for all the movements in your choreography - and for those times when you either fluff something and have to make an addition on the fly or you need to gain ground to get to the next movement at the right phrase in the music.
Design your routine so that it builds to a climax at the final salute. This gives a much better impression that one that looks like it fizzled out due to lack of ideas.