I have ridden my horses in Dressage now for close to thirty years. When people ask me what kind of riding I do, when I say “Dressage” most know what “Dressage” is … but when I say “Musical Freestyles”, many don’t know what a Freestyle is. In my opinion, every dressage rider and every spectator of horse sports should experience a Musical Freestyle.

The dressage freestyle

… is one of the most exciting parts of dressage. Dressage freestyles, similar to freestyles in figure skating, incorporate compulsory figures into a test choreographed to music.  This is specifically chosen by the rider to have a “feeling” they present to the public. It is a totally synchronized dance between rider and horse.These tests are exciting for the public to watch because they often feature popular music. They invite the spectator “on a ride for six minutes into a fantasy that the rider is trying to express.”  To me, there is nothing more FUN than dancing like this with your horse!


The beauty of the freestyle is when a horse and rider have the technical ability not only to ride to music but to actually dance to it. When that happens, a judge then rewards the Horse and Rider with higher points in a score called “Interpretation”. A rider must not only pick music that he or she likes. (I LOVE the GooGoo Dolls and used their music in my current Freestyle), but that is appropriate for the horse. Twinkle-toes violin music does not fit the 18-hand warmblood nor does hard rock fit a small Arabian. Music should stay in the same genre. For example, classical, rock n’ roll and country-western in the same freestyle will likely not enhance the ride.

There is a lot of great music out there and some great freestyle designers. However, new technology now allows riders to select and edit their own music, which opens musical possibilities that were not available before. Locally, I used Tim Russell from Sandhills Aerial to help me with my music. You can find his information → HERE ← .

Tim also does great Video and Drone tours! For weeks I rode to different Goo Goo Dolls songs. It was only until I felt confident that I found some great songs that would match the walk, trot and canter beats of my horse, Deuce. Then…I worked on a video of “floor plan” that I sent to Tim. He then “De-worded” the Goo Goo Dolls songs, “Iris” and “Better Days” and mixed the songs so that they worked with my horses gaits. Here is our finished product done for the first time this weekend. It was a gorgeous morning at seven AM when we rode this morning….


The first time I ever really saw Musical Freestyle’s in Dressage was at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. I remember having tears in my eyes as it truly was poetry in motion. While Musical Freestyle’s can be performed at all Levels of Dressage from the more beginning First Levels to the more advanced Intermediare (that is what Deuce and I are doing now)….the Grand Prix (Olympic Level) is such a joy to watch. Even people who don’t know the sport of Dressage will love it!


The Olympic website

… states that dressage originated 2,000 years ago with the ancient Greeks, who developed it “to train the horses for war.” If so, we must assume that the Greeks were not trying to overrun their foes so much as dazzle them with fancy footwork. This is a sport that seems to be a holdover from a quainter version of the Olympics a century ago. It made its debut in Stockholm in 1912, with jumps included in the competition and added points for riding with one hand.