If a summer of festivals and parties has put you in the dancing mood, there’s no reason why you can’t find a dancing partner in your horse this autumn and beyond. In this exclusive feature, our equestrian PR team spoke to Amanda Birch, Dressage To Music Choreographer and Music Arranger at Amanda Birch Dressage music to find out more.
” For those watching dressage it can appear a sedate sport; A hushed crowds watching the equine elite perform movements with precision. However, add some music, and it’s a whole different and more enchanting story.” Enthuses Amanda with a huge grin.
The dressage freestyle is as Amanda describes it, a ‘chance for the horses to show their true colours, and let the personality shine out’,
“I’m a choreographer for these wonderful dancing horses, and I have to say it’s the best job ever. It’s so important to allow the horse to choose their own music (oh yes they do!).”
If this conjures up visions of a horse standing by the music system, nodding at one track, then saying ‘neigh’ to another track, you are almost right, as Amanda explains;
“Technically the music has to match the horse’s paces, with the beats following the footfalls, but find the right music and the horses paces improve significantly. I have so many riders who now school with music all the time because it makes such a difference.”
So how does Amanda choose the right tempo and music tracks for her clients?
“We spend time with each horse and rider combination playing music and refining the movements required until we come up with a test and tracks that truly defines their personality and ability.”
“I can just imagine some of the horses I work with being perfectly happy centre stage at Glastonbury, lapping up the cheers and adoration of the crowd.” jokes Amanda,
Rider nerves, however, can often come into play when you’re riding a dressage test, and something that Amanda sympathises with;
“Sadly, we work so hard to reach the heady heights of regional, national, and even international championships, and then allow the pressure to ruin our enjoyment of the occasion.”
” I have to admit I don’t really enjoy the pressure of trotting down the centre line to start a dressage test, it a tense environment. There’s no clear round, with the roaring cheer from the crowd as you land after the final jump shaving seconds off your nearest rival, just silence. We, at the mercy of the judges, who remove marks from the elusive ten every time we make a mistake. And, it can be easy to hold your breath and ponder on the errors as you ride every step of the test. BUT add a little music, and your tension just disappears!”
“When I’m riding a dressage music test, I’m here to show you what great dancers my horse and I are, and of course, where there’s music, there’s a party, so we’re all out to have a great time.”
How does Amanda see the future of dressage to music?
“I know I’m biased, but I really think that music is the future of dressage. With so many arenas complaining that spectator numbers are dwindling, we need to give the audiences a show to watch.”
And why should we give riding to music a try?
” We are so lucky to have these talented and beautiful animals as our sporting partners. Most athletes have to work with a tennis racket or football! I’d recommend that all riders give freestyle a go, it’s not just for dressage divas! While some of my clients are born and bred dressage stars (some of whom wear our national flag), I also work with showing horses, driving teams, eventers, ex-racehorses and riding clubs and everyone in-between.”
“Dancing with your horse opens up a whole new world, and my motto is
‘LIVE, LOVE, DANCE.”
A motto our equestrian PR team will certainly be living our lives by!
Amanda Birch is a dressage to music choreographer and music arranger at Amanda Birch Dressage music.
Based in Surrey, Amanda travels the length and breadth of the UK introducing this growing sport to all levels of horse and rider.