Listen to your “Dance Partner” when choosing your MFS Music
A personal experience story by Diann Landau
I have learned the hard way that your horse must be included in the process of selecting the music you use if doing a Musical Freestyle.
5 years ago I ventured into the world of Dancing with my Horse- eager to try something different and fun with Dressage. I had attended a clinic with Michael Matson to find the music. This was both fun and fascinating; Mike watches your horse in all 3 gaits and figures out its beat per minute, then plays selections of music with those bpm while you ride. He may have played something I liked, but it was obvious whether or not the horse liked it! She would either pin her ears or act like she didn’t know how to canter if she didn’t like the selection, or would breathe deep & relax when she did. It didn’t matter what I thought.
After burning a CD with the 3 selections the horse chose, Mike sent us home with the CD. I planned my routine, performed it over the course of the season, and ended up my GMO’s Reserve Champion at their Schooling Show Championship show.
The following year I attended another “Mike clinic” (my partner & I were bored with the music) and again she chose new music. This time I was able to watch other pairs go through the selection process, and it was incredible when the right music came on- you could see the horse change their demeanor. However, I thought I’d be clever and use music that I really liked instead. I worked out a routine, performed it with moderate success at its debut- getting our best score up to that date. A good way to end 2013 .
It went from bad to worse. Each time I’d competed that year the horse let me know in no uncertain terms that she did not like this music. She’d warm up beautifully, go around the outside of the ring lovely and confident, but as soon as they hit “play” she’d shut down- as if to say “I don’t like this so I’m going to be a diva and throw a fit”! At first I wasn’t sure what was going on, but explaining it to a friend it hit me: she didn’t want to dance to those tunes. So I promised her that after our last show I’d throw away the CD’s and try again.
Fast forward to 2018. I finally got professional help in choosing the music & putting together the choreography. After finding the new bpm, Debbie Marriott went through her extensive playlist, and we found a few pieces of music that the horse seemed to react mostly favorably to. At the end of the session Debbie said she had a CD she’d made for someone else who’d changed their mind & did I want to try it. Why not? It turned out to be music from one of my favorite films. AND my horse loved it! Despite being hot and tired, she immediately picked up a canter when that track played! Debbie knew right away that this was THE music. I was almost in tears: both the horse and I love this music.
After working out the choreography I took my freestyle on the road, earning my personal best ever score and being the VADA Nova Year End MFS schooling show Champion as well as recipient of the Hartsong Special Freestyle Award for schooling shows.
I learned a very frustrating but valuable lesson: your horse is your dance partner and has a very important say in what you 2 dance to, so listen to them.
By Diann Landau
Diann is a AADA Member.