Riding On A Song

Today I am linking you to a blog post from Trafalgar Square books about incorporating music into your riding. https://horseandriderbooks.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/using-music-to-increase-forward-energy-in-your-horse/.

The post is based on the book “Freestyle: The Ultimate Guide to Riding, Training and Competing to Music” by Sandra Beaulieu. The book is primarily geared towards dressage riders. Even if you aren’t a dressage rider, there seems to be lots of good information in this book that any rider could apply. I have not read the book myself, but I really enjoyed this particular blog post that focused on creating forward energy. For such a short piece, it has lots of good insights into reasons a horse may be on the slow side. It also discusses how a rider’s energy can affect the horse. That concept of managing energy is something I have long struggled with and continue to grapple with in my riding. I don’t have answers or resolutions for myself or anyone else on this topic. No nuggets of wisdom coming from me on this topic! That’s for sure. But I am always drawn to reading similar articles in my quest to understand this issue more so hence my interest in their blog post about the book.

Beyond the whole “how to manage your energy” angle, the post also drew me in because it dove-tailed on a recent experience I had. Before the Corona Virus arrived in full-force, I planned on riding in a horse-show courtesy of the barn where I take lessons during the Winter. While I was looking forward to riding at the chosen venue, I know from past experience that I can get nervous and/or distracted by all the typical show commotion. So I had picked a tune to sing in my head that happened to match the trot beat of the lesson horse that I would be riding. I wanted a snappy, forward tune that I could sing in my head. I wanted to encourage my body to release any nerves, to settle into a steady rhythm and invite the horse to match me.

The tune that I chose was “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Maybe you can see where this is going? Those of you familiar with the words may recognize it as a dooms-day song. Despite the lyrics, the tune is upbeat. It was just the right tempo for the jaunty posting-trot of the Saddlebred I would be riding in a walk-trot huntseat class. I was initially so pleased with my choice. In light of what happened, however, I now find it creepy that I picked this particular song. “Don’t go ’round tonight, it’s bound to take your life, there’s a bad moon on the rise” goes the otherwise chirpy chorus. Needless to say, my March show was cancelled due to social distancing concerns. That same week my lessons came to a crashing halt after my husband was laid off. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to stay healthy so far during the pandemic, we have now rearrranged our lives in sometimes dramatic ways to try to remain virus-free. Bad moon rising indeed.

While my first attempt at incorporating music into my riding was misguided, I still like the general idea. On a brighter note, I am mulling over how I can incorporate music into my current rides at home. In the past, I have periodically sung while in the saddle. Bear used to get more calm and steady when I would sing “row, row, row your boat” during tense moments, for example. No other song seemed to work for him as well as that one. My newest horse, Shiloh, is a different sort of creature than Bear. While Bear went better when I tried to encourage relaxation, I think Shiloh goes better when I try to gently encourage more animation. Maybe there is music I could sing to myself in my head in order to set a more dynamic (yet not mind blowing) tone during a ride?

So what about you? Have you ever incorporated music into your riding? You might like to read the post at https://horseandriderbooks.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/using-music-to-increase-forward-energy-in-your-horse/ and then share your experiences with me in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Riding On A Song

  1. I did an Intermediate 1 Freestyle this past winter season in Florida. I did get professional help from Applause Dressage who helped me with music and choreography. It was a lot of fun. And one of the most important things I learned came in the choosing music phase. It is of paramount importance to choose music that the horse likes. May sound odd but when we played different samples of music Biasini reacted differently. The music we chose was the music that he responded best to.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Anne. Sounds like you had a blast with your freestyle! How cool that must have been. And that is a fascinating comment about horses showing preferences to different kinds of music! Makes sense, but you don’t hear too much about that subject. I did see one study about horses being played music when they were in their stalls and generally showing preference for classical and country. But it seems like moving to music might be a different sort of thing. Just like when my horse, Bear, seemed to show a preference for “Row, row, row, your boat” to other songs I sung to him. 🙂 Make me think I need to read that Freestyle book . . .


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