What is Dressage to Music?

So how can you put together a floor plan, music and compete at any level of Freestyle to Music?

Let’s start with the floor plan. You can get a copy of the Rule Book and Test Requirements from BD, and this will give you all the required movements you need for your test, plus the movements which will give you a degree of difficulty enhancement, and movements you are not allowed to perform. The floor plan is part of the artistic flow of your test, and will be marked as such, but will also affect your overall mark. So ask yourself a few questions.

There are two arena sizes, 20 x 40, and the now most commonly used 20 x 60 arena. So, check the size of the arena you will be competing in, and then check that the arena you are working out your floor plan, and subsequently riding your test in is exactly the right size. If there is a discrepancy in size of even a metre in either direction, this compounds and will affect the transitions and phraseology of the music when you compete in the correct sized arena. Also take into account that different surfaces will ride faster or slower, and outdoor arenas can hold more water, so be heavier. Build into your music the cues to allow you to make small adjustments on the day.

  • What is your best pace.
  • What do you find difficult.
  • Which are your best transitions.
  • Which of the extra movements which will give degree of difficulty marks can you do consistently well.
  • Are you better on one rein than another in any pace.
  • Importantly, what are you confidant at.

The judges don’t want to see a straightforward test ridden, they want to see a test which will show you have thought about the choreography, and have made a test which flows throughout, with rhythm and cadence. They want to see a unique test which is beautiful to watch, but not too difficult for the horse and rider. Work within your skill level.

Let’s now look at choreographing your test. BD rule book, coloured pens and several pieces of paper are the only tools you need at the moment.

  • Write a list of all the required movements
  • Write a list of all the added difficulty bonus movements
  • Draw or photocopy lots of blank arenas.
  • Using your lists, start to put together a plan of the movements and patterns, put  directional arrows, and colour code walk trot and canter. Tick of the required movements from your list.
  • Make the test balanced, you need to show all movements on both reins.
  • A symmetrical test is more pleasing to the eye.
  • Plan the test around your good movements and transitions. You don’t have to go in any specific order, this is Freestyle.
  • Use the direction you are going in to your advantage, this can disguise shortfalls.
  • Once you are satisfied, go and ride the test in EXACTLY the correct sized arena, too short or too long will affect the time, and once the music is set, your transitions will be wrong in the venue arena.
  • Time the test, is it within the time allowed, if not, re-think your floor plan to avoid penalties.
  • Either film, or write down the transitions.