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Planning your music test: weeks 1 and 2

  • Posted: 27 March 2013

LogoJust Dance Dressage Equetech Challenge
Hosted by Dressage Anywhere

To coincide with the launch of our new Freestyle to Music class we've put together a week by week guide to get you started with all you need to know about how to plan your test.

Dressage to music is a freestyle test with a list of requirements at each level. You create a floor plan utilizing the required movements and set it to the music of your choice. If you’ve never done it before it can seem like a daunting task but it needn’t be so. Follow our guide to create your own test and have fun taking part in the Just Dance Dressage Equetech Challenge.

Week 1: Preparation

First of all you need to obtain a copy of the requirements for the level at which you want to ride. You can buy these from the British Dressage online shop.

Next you need to work out the tempo of your horse's paces. The best way to do this is to get someone to video you riding in walk, trot and canter. Try different movements and shapes as your horse's paces may vary slightly and you will want a good overall tempo for each pace.

Watch the video and work out the beats per minute. Trot is a 2 beat pace, walk 4 beats and canter 3 beats. Your walk should in the region of 48-66 beats per minute (BPM), trot 70-88 BPM and canter 90-110 BPM. Remember that if you have a great big warm-blood his paces will be very different to those of a light-footed pony. Don’t worry too much about getting this exactly right as there will be plenty of opportunity for adjustments later in the process.

Week 2: Choosing music

Once you’ve got an idea of the tempo you want for your walk, trot and canter you can start to choose some music. Have a think about the type of music that you like and what will suit your horse. That light-footed pony might not suit a big, sweeping orchestral piece and likewise, your warm-blood wont look great dancing to The Sugar Plum Fairy.

Your music should have a theme so that it sounds harmonious overall. Instrumental pieces are best, this is a dance after all but if you do choose music with vocals make sure that they are subtle and don’t dominate the soundtrack. You could also have a think about your halts at the beginning and end of the test. You need a definite flourish at the beginning and end rather than a track that just dies away gradually.

YouTube is a great source for researching your music. Listen to the music others have used, this can give you some good ideas for themes but beware of pieces that are over used. Think about your audience, the judge is going to sit through a lot of music and won’t enjoy hearing the same pieces over and over again. What would make your music stand out? Popular themes include James Bond, Disney, Abba, Beatles, and Big Band.

Another useful source is Equimusic, which is a free online database of music suitable for dressage organised into walk, trot and canter sections with the BPM noted for each piece.

You don’t need to make a final choice at this stage; in fact, it’s better to have several options.

See also:
Week 3 creating a floor plan
Week 4 filming and adjusting
Week 5 editing your music
Week 6 practice and polish