Dressage Musical Freestyle Rule Changes for 2019

Editing my freestyle with a little help from my horses. Photo credit: Kimberly Chason

Editing my freestyle with a little help from my horses. Photo credit: Kimberly Chason

Every four years the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) reviews their dressage tests and makes improvements/changes. This year there were a few notable changes in the freestyle tests that you should keep in mind when preparing to show.

Qualifying Score

For USDF Recognized dressage shows you need to earn a qualifying score at the highest test of the level (or above) before you are allowed to compete your freestyle. The qualifying score was 60% and it was raised to 63%. It might take you a little longer to earn that qualifying score but in the end it will help prepare you for your freestyle technical scores.

Example:
You are planning to ride a Training Level Freestyle at a USDF Recognized show. First, you will need to earn a 63% (or above) at a USDF Recognized show in Training Level Test 3. You may also earn your 63% at a higher level/test, such as First Level Test 1.

Choreography Changes

  • Lengthenings/Mediums/Extensions on Straight Lines

There was a significant change in the choreography requirements regarding lengthenings/mediums/extensions (will refer to these as extensions) at the trot/canter. Previously, you could choose to ride your extension on a bending line or a large circle. The rules have changed so that you MUST ride your extension on a straight line. You can choose to ride a second extension on a curved line but it will NOT be counted towards your technical marks, just your artistic scores.

This will limit your available movements but try to incorporate straight lines in a non-test-like fashion by utilizing your quarterlines, centerlines, long sides of the arena, and riding a diagonal line from the centerline to the corner and vice versa.

Scoring Changes

The test sheets are easier to navigate for the judges/scribes and there are fewer collective marks in the technical side of the test. There is only one score for rhythm, energy, and elasticity. There are also designated areas for errors and deductions. Keep in mind that your judge cannot ring the bell for test errors (example: forgetting to salute at your halt) while your music is playing. There is a great article by Janet L. “Dolly” Hannon in the USDF Connection magazine that goes into more detail about these changes. Click here to read it.

Click here to read the current freestyle rules on the USDF website and view the freestyle tests.


Download my Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Freestyle Articles

How to Create a Musical Freestyle - Learn the Seven Phases of Freestyle Creation

Watch our "Outlander" inspired first level freestyle... photo credit: spotted vision photography

Watch our "Outlander" inspired first level freestyle...photo credit: spotted vision photography

Imagine riding up the centerline to the music of your very own musical freestyle! If you are reading this article you are thinking of, or have decided to, design a musical freestyle. How exciting!

Just think how much fun you and your horse will have dancing to music. I know that my horses enjoy their music and they will start to learn their transitions and follow along. 

This video will give you an overview of what's in store for you in the months ahead. I have broken down the process into Seven Phases to help you keep track of your progress and avoid overwhelm. 

You can just watch the video or scroll down to read a description of each phase. I have also included links to articles and resources to help you along the way.

#1: Plan & Prepare

You are currently in this stage right now, planning ahead for your freestyle. If this is your first time I recommend giving yourself ample time to work on it. There will be a learning curve with the music software and how to choreograph your routine so be careful not to rush yourself.

The best time to start working on a musical freestyle is in your "off" season. If you compete in the summer months try to begin in the winter, right after the holidays is usually a good time to get focused. Download my free Musical Freestyle Checklist to help you stay on track (scroll to the bottom of this article).

#2: Rules & Requirements

You will need to learn the rules that pertain to freestyles at a competition, especially if you want to show at a USDF recognized event. It would be a shame to enter your first show and realize you are missing a movement or get disqualified because your entrance music is too long. There is a handy resource on the USDF website that summarizes the freestyle requirements...click here.

Download the USDF EquiTests 1 App so that you will have quick access to your freestyle test sheets if you aren't sure about a movement...click here.

#3: Gather Info

In this phase you will be gathering information that will help you find your music and create your choreography. You will need to figure out the beats per minute for your horse's gaits so that you are prepared to select music. Learn how to determine your horse's beats per minute in this article...click here. 

There are many smartphone apps available that will also help you with the BPM's, choreography, and music. Click here to see which apps I use and where to get them. 

#4: Discover your Music

It is a lot easier to find music with the availability of online search. Platforms such as ITunes, Spotify, and Pandora will help you find music to match your horse. Don't forget to look in your old CD collection as well, there may be some gems that you forgot about. Click here for some ideas...

If you feel overwhelmed about selecting music, there are some options online for pre-made music such as Marvin's Music and MusiKur.

#5: Choreography

It is a fun challenge to work with a horse and rider to showcase their strengths and downplay their weaknesses. Try to "marry" the music and the choreography together, doing your best to follow the natural progression of the music. Avoid movements that will add stress for you and your horse, your test should HELP you, not hinder your horse's ability. My blank arena diagram sheet is very helpful during the process. Scroll down for your free copy.

If the idea of creating choreography overwhelms you, I have pre-designed routines in my Freestyle Choreography e-books. If you don't see the level you want just sent me an email (beginthedance@gmail.com) and I will let you know when it is available.

#6: Edit, Edit, Edit

This is perhaps going to be the longest, most frustrating stage of the game. Keep faith! You are so close to the end it should help you gain momentum to push through. If you are not very "techy" this part of the process can be outsourced to a friend or a professional. I have gathered together some popular music software and extra options in this article...click here.

If you get stressed out, take a break and try one of the four ways I stay motivated. Read the article here.

#7: Go to a Show

Time to take your freestyle for a trial run! Keep in mind that the first show is a learning experience. You will become familiar with the process, how to submit your music to show staff, the sound check, how to deal with different sound systems, and most importantly...how does your horse do with the freestyle at a show. 

You may discover that your horse's tempo is a lot faster than normal or he/she spooks at the speakers set too close to the arena. After you receive feedback from your judge you can go back to the drawing board, adjusting choreography and music based on their scores. 

Here's some advice, do not drastically change your freestyle based on ONE judge's opinion! The artistic scores can vary widely from judge to judge. For example: One of my clients rode her new First Level freestyle at a schooling show and received a score in the low 60's, the artistic scores ranged from a 6 to a 6.5. She rode the EXACT same freestyle at a USDF Recognized show for an "S" judge and received a 76%! All 8's in the artistic scores.

Artistic value is in the eye of the beholder, don't lose faith if one judge doesn't resonate with your music. 


Download my Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Freestyle Articles

DIY? Custom? A little bit of both? Learn the Pros and Cons for your Dressage Musical Freestyle...

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.   Click here.

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.  Click here.

After you have clarified your goals and defined a timeline for your freestyle you will need to decide the best path to choose. Do you have the time and energy for DIY freestyle or would you rather pass along the task to a professional?

There are a variety of ways to complete a musical freestyle but for the sake of simplicity I have broken it down into three choices to  narrow your focus.

Here are the pros and cons of the three Freestyle Paths you might choose from:

DIY & On a Budget

Creating a musical freestyle can be a very rewarding experience. On the flip side it takes a lot of time and energy, especially if you are new to freestyle design.

Make sure to give yourself enough time to accommodate the learning curve that comes with the tech and choreography. Typically,  I recommend 2-3 months at a minimum. I have broken down the process into seven phases in my eBook that guides you along the way.

Pros:
* Cheapest Option
* Learn the Process for Future Freestyles
* Edit as Often as you Like (especially after each show based on judge's commentary)
* Express your Creativity
* Gain a Sense of Accomplishment

Cons:
* Possible Frustrating
* It will probably take a lot Longer
* You will mostly likely run into Tech Issues
* You will face Setbacks
* You may not reach your Show Deadline

Learn how to design your very own Dressage Musical Freestyle.  Click here

Learn how to design your very own Dressage Musical Freestyle. Click here

With Some Help & a Moderate Budget

This is the route I see many adult amateurs take. They want to stay on a budget but are not quite capable, or confident, to put in the extra time to learn the tech side of freestyle design.

Typically, riders will outsource the music editing because they are not familiar with the  software. It is a smart decision considering the learning curve can be quite frustrating! Click here to take the guesswork out of choreography design. 

Pros:
* Learn the Process
* Outsource the Parts you Don't want to Do
* Outsource the Parts you Don't have the Skills to Do
* Express your Creativity
* Feel a Sense of Accomplishment

Cons:
* Costs more to purchase Pre-Made music or Hire Help
* You may run into Tech Issues
* You may not reach your Show Deadline
* You may have Trouble finding good Help

Save Time & Energy - Go with a Custom Freestyle

If you are a professional rider that is too busy with training clients and competitions, this is your best option. Adult amateur riders that are competitive and going to a lot of recognized shows will also benefit from a professional's touch. Every designer has a unique creation process and style to their freestyles. I personally am drawn to soundtracks that evoke strong emotions for the rider, the audience, and the judge. I chose music from the TV series Outlander for my Friesian gelding. When the entrance music starts my emotions change and it helps with my confidence. Click here to watch our Outlander freestyle

Pros:
* Works with a Busy Schedule
* Great Option if you Lack Creativity
* Takes the Worry out of the Process
* Can be a lot of Fun to test out the Music and Choreography
* Additional Support and Encouragement

Cons:
* Most Expensive
* Can be Frustrating waiting on the Designer
* You may end up on a Waiting List during busy Seasons
* You may have to pay for additional Edits and Changes

I hope that diving deeper into the Pros and Cons of each process has helped you decide on the best course of action for you. If you have any questions you can post them on the blog or email me at beginthedance@gmail.com.

Download My Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Articles

Six Smartphone Apps to Help you Create your Dressage Musical Freestyle

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.   Click here.

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.  Click here.

After you have clarified your goals and decided on a course of action, you will need tools and resources to begin your freestyle journey. The internet has made the freestyle creation process a lot easier, with more apps and tools being added all the time.

Here are some popular apps that will help you will different aspects of freestyle design. Most of these apps are available on both iPhone and Android but I have only included links to the iTunes store. Send me an email (beginthedance@gmail.com) if you have found another useful app that you think I should add to this list.

USDF EquiTests 1

It is a good idea to have the freestyle tests available for quick reference. I check the tests to make sure I know the required movements for each level and to make sure I am not including anything that is forbidden.

The app also includes the USDF Introductory Tests, which is helpful to have on your phone if you are teaching beginner dressage riders. Click here to download the USDF EquiTests 1 app.

BPM by Cheebow

I use this app on a daily basis to help me find a horse's BPM (beats per minute). There are many BPM and Metronome apps on the market but this one also lets me check the BPM of a song while it is playing in Spotify. Many of the other apps I have tried will not work at the same time as you play a song.

You can use this app to determine whether a song will match your horse's gaits, simple, quick, and easy! You simply tap the beat on the screen. When I use the app I start by tapping my foot to the beat of the song and then tap my finger to help me keep a consistent rhythm. Click here to download the BPM by Cheebow app.
 

Soundcorset

This metronome app came highly recommended by a member of the Freestyle Facebook Group. I have since downloaded it to my iPhone and I will test it out myself. You can simply tap the screen to start/stop the metronome and set a visual flash of light if you can't hear the beat. 

It also has a BPM detector that may also be useful to figure out the BPM of a particular song. This app is meant for musicians and has additional features to tune instruments and record music. Click here to download the Soundcorset app.

EquiTempo

This is a metronome app meant specifically for riders. You can use this app to help you determine your horses's BPM's but it works differently. Instead of tapping the screen you will set the tempo and keep adjusting it until you and your horse are in sync with it. 

This app is helpful for riders that have a hard time keeping a steady tempo. Once you figure out your horse's BPM's you can set the tempo and practice keeping it steady during your ride. Click here to download the EquiTempo app.

EquiSketch Dressage

I have not used this app personally but I have heard positive reviews from students. This app is helpful for choreography, letting you draw movements and save your routine on your phone. This would be useful if you have an idea for your freestyle but are not close to a pen and paper. 

Let me know if you have tried this app and how you like it. Click here to download the EquiSketch Dressage app. 

Spotify

I love using Spotify and I recommend the paid version. You can use Spotify for free but it does not let you click through songs quickly, you have to wait and listen to ads. If you just need the app to help you for a one-time freestyle you can just use the free version.

I save numerous playlists for walk, trot, and canter songs so I can go back later and find something for a new client. I also create playlists for each horse/rider combination and for my own personal horses and themed performances.

Spotify will also recommend songs based on your personal preferences. This has helped me discover new music that I wouldn't have found on my own. However, it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole and listen for hours! But I don't see that as a big problem do you? Click here to download the Spotify app.

Do you have an app you use for musical freestyle? Please leave a comment below, email me at beginthedance@gmail.com, or join the Facebook group and share with the other members

Download My Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Articles

Four Ways to Stay Motivated as you Create Your Dressage Musical Freestyle

Creating a musical freestyle takes time. You may begin the process all gung-ho and then find that your motivation lessens as time passes.

So far on your freestyle journey you have clarified your goals, decided on a course of actiongathered your resourcesfound your BPMs, and started the music search

Whenever I feel a lack of inspiration I spend some time doing the following. I would love to know how you stay inspired. Please share in the comments below or with the Freestyle Facebook group

Go to a Show

If you have the opportunity to attend a live event I think that it can help spark motivation. Even a local schooling show with one freestyle can motivate you. Watching a fellow rider in the ring, showing their finished freestyle is encouraging. Sometimes the lack of entries is also inspiring, it confirms the fact that creating freestyles is a lot of work and it means that your freestyle will stand out from the crowd.

Make plans to attend a big show if you live near high-profile showgrounds like Saugerties, NY or Tryon, NC. Are you making plans to attend the World Equestrian Games coming up this September (2018)? Regional and National Championship shows typically showcase the freestyles in the evening for the enjoyment of the audience. 

Watch YouTube

This is by far the quickest way to get motivated and inspire new ideas. I have saved individual Playlists for each level, Training through Grand Prix, and would love your help to add more. If you want to inspire other riders please send it along. Click on the freestyle level you are interested in seeing, the link will take you to my YouTube playlist for that level.  

If you have a video you would like me to add, please post the link in the comments below, email me at beginthedance@gmail.com, or post your video in the Freestyle Facebook Group. I would love to share your finished freestyle, it doesn't matter if you are starting out at Training level.

Browse Quotes

When I am feeling down I jump onto Pinterest and start searching for motivational quotes and sayings. There aren't that many quotes related to musical freestyle...believe me I know! That's why I have created my own using quotes related to dancing, music, and riding. Click here to browse my collection of quotes here on my website or you can follow my Dressage Musical Freestyle board on Pinterest

Join a Community

Being a part of a group of like-minded riders is helpful to stay inspired and get encouragement. I started a Freestyle Facebook Group specifically for riders that want to ask questions, share their journey, and receive encouragement along the way. It is a positive group of ladies, many of them I know in "real life" too! Click here to join.

You can also join a few other Facebook groups called Musical Freestyle (Dressage Kur) and Musical Freestyle Dressage

There are also two online forums that you can ask questions and interact with other members on the topics of musical freestyle. These are the two that I recommend, the Chronicle of the Horse Forum and the Definitely Dressage Observation Lounge Forum.

If you find any other fun, positive groups online please let me know in the comments below or email me at beginthedance@gmail.com. I hope this post helped you find some motivation to continue working on your freestyle. Don't worry, everyone gets stuck, I think it is basically a right of passage! When you are struggling through the third, even tenth edit of your freestyle music it can feel like it is taking forever! Good luck!


Download My Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Articles

Turn Up the Music! Begin the Search for Your Dressage Musical Freestyle Music by Picking a Theme...

Now for the fun part! This is usually the part of freestyle creation that everyone seems to enjoy. Searching for music can be exciting. However, it could be overwhelming if you don't know where to begin. That is what we will focus on today.

Before you search for your freestyle music you will want to clarify your goals, decide on a course of actiongather your resources, and figure out your horse's BPMs. By knowing your horse's BPMs you will spend less time on your music search.

You can use a smartphone app to check songs on the fly, save songs on an app like Spotify, and shorten the amount of time it takes to find songs for your walk, trot, and canter. 

You might already have a particular band, song, or soundtrack that you are particularly fond of. If you starting from a clean slate, use this list to help you brainstorm ideas. 

> Match Your Horse's Breed:

Your horse's breed might lend itself to a particular genre of music.  Think about where your horse's breed originates from, and the history that goes along with it. 

If you ride a Mustang you might choose music that sounds like the wild west or a movie soundtrack like Spirit. If you ride a Baroque horse (Andalusian, Lusitano, Lipizzan) you might like classical, flamenco, or spanish style music. 

> Favorite Movie & T.V. Soundtracks:

Riding to popular movie soundtracks will engage your audience/judge, reminding them of the emotions they felt when they watched that movie.

I chose music from the Outlander soundtrack for my Friesian horse Douwe. I love the T.V. series and I was lucky that the music matched his gaits. Click here to watch our First Level Freestyle that has over 9,000 views on Facebook! 

> Favorite Bands & Popular Songs:

Is there a particular song on the radio that you just love? Lyrics are discouraged in the show arena (unless they lend a special quality to the performance) but you can find a variety of cover songs and remakes online.

Search the song name on ITunes and Spotify and you will typically find instrumental versions. Some of my favorite groups that create instrumental songs from modern music are Vitamin String Quartet, Eklipse, and The Piano Guys. You can also find remakes of your favorite songs from the 70s, 80s, etc. 

> Favorite Genre of Music:

Are you a huge fan of the 80's? Maybe you love classical music and opera. There are so many genres to choose from. Narrowing it down to one genre may not be as specific as a particular band but it will be a great start! 

When you think of your favorite style of music keep in mind how it makes you feel. Gravitate towards music that gives you confidence and keeps you focused, some music can create a lot of excitement that might translate into tension at a horse show.

If you haven't started already, I hope this article inspires you to begin your music search. Putting together your own musical freestyle is a challenge but well worth it in the end.


Download My Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Articles

How to Determine your Horse's BPMs for your Dressage Musical Freestyle...

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.  Click here.

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle. Click here.

After you have clarified your goals, decided on a course of action, and gathered your resources, you will need to figure out your horse's BPMs. 

I get asked about BPMs (beats per minute) frequently from riders who need help finding freestyle music. They know that they need to figure out their horse's bpms but aren't quite sure what that means or how to go about it. It is actually quite simple once you give it a try. I have included a few different methods, hopefully one of them will work for you!

Why You Need To Figure Out Your Horse's BPM:

Every piece of music has it's own beats per minute. When you match your horse's bpm to the music's bpm you can feel confident that the music will match. Of course, there is more to it than just matching the bpm (picking a theme, matching personality, and whether your horse enjoys it as well) but is a good place to start. 

Items You Will Need

  • A Timer or Cell Phone (with one of apps listed below)

  • Leg Wraps - use one easy-to-see color

  • Video Camera (optional)

  • A Helper/Assistant

Start by wrapping one of your horse's front legs with a colored polo wrap. You only need this one wrap but the leg will show up better in a video if all the legs are wrapped with just one that is brightly colored.

Learn how to find your horse's BPMs for your musical freestyle.

Learn how to find your horse's BPMs for your musical freestyle.

I suggest that you warm up first so that you can be sure to have the best representation of your horse's working gait.

Every time that front leg touches the ground at the walk or trot, you will count it as one “beat”. At the canter, you count the leading foreleg as one “beat” when it strikes the ground.

Use a Timer

Using a stopwatch or the timer on your cell phone, have your assistant set the timer for one minute. Have them count the number of footfalls (of that one foreleg) while you ride your horse in a consistent working walk, trot or canter. As long as the horse stays steady and your helper is a good counter (haha) you will have your bpm. You may want to take an average after multiple tries.

Use an App

Have your ground person use a metronome app on your phone, adjusting it up or down until the “beep” sound of the metronome matches the footfall of the wrapped leg. Some good apps to try are EquiTempo and Metronome.

OR

Have your ground person use a BPM app, tapping the screen every time your horse's front leg touches the ground. It will give you the average bpm within a few strides, try it a few times to double check consistency. I have been using the BPM by Cheebow  for many years.

Take A Video

Take this opportunity to have your assistant video your horse at a consistent walk, trot and canter. Make sure to include your working gaits and lengthened/extended movements. Stay in each working gait for at least one full minute. You can count the footfalls from the comfort of your own home on your computer. The video will also be helpful for you to test out different pieces of music.

Here are some basic BPM guidelines:
Walk- between 50-65 BPM
Trot- between 75-90 BPM
Canter- between 95-110 BPM
Passage/Piaffe- between 60-65 BPM

*Generally the canter is twice the beats of the walk and the trot lies somewhere in between.


Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Articles

What Computer Software Should You Use to Edit Your Dressage Freestyle Music?

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.   Click here.

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.  Click here.

After you have clarified your goals and decided on a course of action, you will need tools and resources to begin your freestyle journey. The internet has made the freestyle creation process a lot easier, with more programs and tools being added all the time.

Find online resources to edit your dressage freestyle music. Click image.

Here are some popular programs that are used by amateurs and professional freestyle designers. Send me an email (beginthedance@gmail.com) if you have found another useful program that you think I should be added to this list.

> Garageband My current software of choice. It is easy to use and works seamlessly with ITunes. Only available on Mac.

> Audacity Probably the most popular FREE software that will work on all computers.

> Logic Pro X The next step up from Garageband. Only available for Mac.

> Adobe Audition Creativity in the cloud, there is a monthly fee but you also have access to other Adobe programs.

> Music Maker  Previously known as Sound Forge, was bought out by Magix. They have a free trial to use the software.
 


Dressage Musical Freestyle Video Tutorials YouTube online resources Begin the Dance Kur Design.png

YouTube Video Tutorials

I regularly save freestyle videos and tutorials on my YouTube channel. If you find a video that I have not saved to a playlist please send me an email (beginthedance@gmail.com) so I can add it.
 
> How to Edit Music using Audacity YouTube playlist with Video Tutorials

> How to Edit Music using Garageband YouTube playlist with Video Tutorials

 


Local Resources

Dressage Musical Freestyle Resources Music Editing Software Kur Routine DIY how to day four.png

In addition to online resources, I encourage you to look into options that might be available to you locally. 

> Family & Friends: Perhaps your son is really good on the computer? Check with your horse friends and see if any of them are tech savvy. Maybe you could barter some riding lessons for their editing skills! Be creative!  

Local High School: Meet with your local music teacher to see if they have the ability to edit music. Your school may have a computer class that could include your freestyle as a class project.  

Nearby University: Pay a college student to edit your music. Try posting a want ad on a local community board or coffee shop where the tech-savvy folks hang out. Some college student would probably appreciate the opportunity to earn a little extra money.  

Professional Musician: If you know someone who records their own music they will certainly have the skills to edit music. Check out some local bands in your area. Don't worry about the genre of their music, it is the editing skills you need. 

Freestyle Designer: You can reach out to a few professional freestyle designers and see if they would be willing to edit your music separate from the choreography. Most designers want to be involved in the entire process or they may have suggestions for your music choices and choreography.


Download My Free Resources

Stay organized with my Musical Freestyle Checklist and begin sketching choreography with my Blank Arena Diagram Page.

Freestyle Free Downloads.png

Browse my Freestyle E-Book Store

Learn how to create a musical freestyle from start to finish or choose an e-Book with choreography ideas just for your level.
Click here to view all Freestyle e-Books.

Related Articles

30 Success Quotes for Equestrians - Inspiring Horse Quotes to Motivate You in Your Riding

When I was younger, I used to stay up all night writing in my journal, pondering my goals for the new year. My lists were very long! Then I would wake up the next day and try to have the "perfect day", ride all my horses, eat healthy, write in my journal, etc... Over the years I have realized that consistency is more important than striving for "perfect days". There will be many ups and downs, many goals that will be reached and some that need to be stored on the shelf for another day. I am very lucky to earn a living with horses and work with amazing students and professionals. It is my purpose to teach and inspire others to be creative with their horses and benefit from my experiences. 

I hope this collection of quotes inspires you to take action towards your goals. Most of the images feature my horse Douwe the Amazing Friesian and my Art on Horseback partner Rovandio

This year take action and learn trick training, dressage, bitless, bridleless, and more!  click here

This year take action and learn trick training, dressage, bitless, bridleless, and more! click here

Tired of sitting on the sidelines? Create your dream freestyle this year!  click here

Tired of sitting on the sidelines? Create your dream freestyle this year! click here

This year take action and learn trick training, dressage, bitless, bridleless, and more!  click here

This year take action and learn trick training, dressage, bitless, bridleless, and more! click here

Dreaming of a fantasy photo shoot with your horse?  click here

Dreaming of a fantasy photo shoot with your horse? click here

Learn how to plan a fantasy photo shoot with your horse.  click here.

Learn how to plan a fantasy photo shoot with your horse. click here.

Learn how to design your very own musical freestyle.  click here

Learn how to design your very own musical freestyle. click here

Follow Douwe the Amazing Friesian on Facebook.  click here

Follow Douwe the Amazing Friesian on Facebook. click here

Follow Douwe the Amazing Friesian on Facebook.  click here

Follow Douwe the Amazing Friesian on Facebook. click here

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.  Click here.

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle. Click here.

Learn how to ride bitless and teach your horse amazing tricks this year!  click here

Learn how to ride bitless and teach your horse amazing tricks this year! click here

Learn how to turn your horse into a unicorn.  click here

Learn how to turn your horse into a unicorn. click here

Learn how to plan a fantasy photo shoot with your horse.  click here

Learn how to plan a fantasy photo shoot with your horse. click here

Learn how to plan a fantasy photo shoot with your horse.  click here

Learn how to plan a fantasy photo shoot with your horse. click here

Learn how to train your horse to do tricks for your photo shoot.  click here

Learn how to train your horse to do tricks for your photo shoot. click here

Learn how to incorporate liberty training with your horse.  click here

Learn how to incorporate liberty training with your horse. click here

Learn how to ride your horse bridleless.  click here

Learn how to ride your horse bridleless. click here

Connect with your horse on a deeper level.  click here

Connect with your horse on a deeper level. click here

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle.  Click here.

Learn how to create a dressage musical freestyle. Click here.

Follow Douwe the amazing friesian on facebook.  click here

Follow Douwe the amazing friesian on facebook. click here

Learn how to ride your horse bridleless.  click here

Learn how to ride your horse bridleless. click here

Learn how sandra trains and performs with her horses.  click here

Learn how sandra trains and performs with her horses. click here

Learn how to connect with your horse at a deeper level.  click here

Learn how to connect with your horse at a deeper level. click here

Learn how to ride your horse bridleless.  click here

Learn how to ride your horse bridleless. click here

Learn dressage online from sandra beaulieu - a usdf bronze and silver medalist.  click here

Learn dressage online from sandra beaulieu - a usdf bronze and silver medalist. click here

Learn how to have fun with your horse with trick training.  click here

Learn how to have fun with your horse with trick training. click here

Learn how to train your horse tricks.  click here

Learn how to train your horse tricks. click here

Is this your year to shine? take your relationship with your horse to the next level.  click here

Is this your year to shine? take your relationship with your horse to the next level. click here

Add some sparkle to your horse...my best tips for DIY Mane, Tail, and Hooves ...  click here

Add some sparkle to your horse...my best tips for DIY Mane, Tail, and Hooves ... click here

Learn more about dressage, trick, and liberty training with Sandra... click here.

Learn more about dressage, trick, and liberty training with Sandra...click here.

Learn more about dressage, trick, and liberty training with Sandra... click here.

Learn more about dressage, trick, and liberty training with Sandra...click here.

Follow Sandra on Pinterest

Sandra Beaulieu and Rovandio - Second Level Dressage Musical Freestyle to Pop Violin Music

When you dance, your purpose is not to
get to a certain place on the floor.
It's to enjoy each step along the way.

- Wayne Dyer

After a long hiatus from the dressage competition arena, I decided it would be fun to work on my USDF Freestyle Bronze Bar with Douwe and Rovandio. To earn this award, the rider needs two freestyle scores (above 65%) at First level, two scores at Second level, and two scores at Third level from recognized shows. Douwe earned both of our First Level scores and Rovandio earned both of our Second Level scores in one weekend! I am so proud of them, they seemed to enjoy themselves and I did too! Last week I shared Douwe's First Level Musical Freestyle inspired by the TV show Outlander (click here to watch). Here is Rovandio's Second Level Freestyle with recognizable music played by a pop violin band named Escala. I found them on Spotify and loved their renditions of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir", The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony", and Karl Jenkin's "Palladio". Enjoy!

Inspired to create your own musical freestyle? Enter your email below for my FREE downloads including a Musical Freestyle Checklist to keep you on track and Blank Choreography Pages to sketch your routines. You can also learn more about my Custom Freestyle Design and Freestyle Workshops. Click here. 

Thank you Adam's Horse Supplies!

My new sponsors Adam's Horse Supplies generously outfitted me with new Ariat show boots, a Goode Rider show shirt, Toklat saddle pads, a ThinLine pad for Douwe, and a Micklem bridle for Rovandio for our freestyle debut.  

Adam's is located in Winthrop, ME but has an excellent selection online and they offer incredible sales and discounts. 

 

Sandra Beaulieu & Friesian Douwe - "Outlander"-Inspired First Level Musical Freestyle

We dance for laughter,
we dance for tears,
we dance for madness,
we dance for fears,
we dance for hopes,
we dance for screams,
we are the dancers,
we create the dreams.

                  -Albert Einstein

After a long hiatus from the dressage competition arena, I decided it would be fun to work on my USDF Freestyle Bronze Bar with Douwe and Rovandio. To earn this award, the rider needs two freestyle scores (above 65%) at First level, two scores at Second level, and two scores at Third level from recognized shows. Douwe earned both of our First Level scores and Rovandio earned both of our Second Level scores in one weekend! I am so proud of them, they seemed to enjoy themselves and I did too! If you watch the TV series Outlander you will recognize the music, the tempo and drama of the music really go with Douwe's stride. Enjoy!

Are you inspired to start working on your First Level musical freestyle?

My "how-to" e-book will take you through the creation process of your very own freestyle. 

  • 10 Fully Choreographed Test Patterns! Just Add Music!
  • 37 pages of choreography!  
  • 7 Online Resources to help you find freestyle music.
  • Creative freestyle questionnaire to help get your creative juices flowing!
  • Freestyle checklist to help you stay on track.
  • Blank arena diagram pages for you to take notes and draw your own choreography.
  • Rules to remember, arena & sound requirements, copyright laws and more!

I also offer CUSTOM FREESTYLE design and FREESTYLE WORKSHOPS. Click here to learn more. 

Create Your Own Training Level Musical Freestyle! Sample Videos of Good Choreography & Music Selection

Create Your Own Training Level Musical Freestyle! Sample Videos of Good Choreography & Music Selection

Have you always wanted to ride a musical freestyle? Getting started at Training Level is a great way to get your feet wet and learn how the entire process works. 

In this post, I have shared some examples of Training Level musical freestyles and reasons why they are good, from a judge's perspective…

Read More

How to Transform Your Horse Into a Unicorn - Where to Buy a Unicorn Horn Online

Unicorns and horses are both creatures that fuel our imaginations, showing us a different way of being in the world, allowing us to be maidens, princesses, knights, and faeries.

What do you envision for your unicorn photo shoot? Something light and ethereal? Or perhaps something a little dark and mysterious? It is unique to create a unicorn out of different colored horses, my Friesian looked amazing as a unicorn even though unicorns are not typically thought of as black.

Creative Inspiration

A few ideas for when having a unicorn would be useful:

  • Halloween costume

  • Portraits/Fantasy photos (for yourself or a client)

  • Think grandkids, birthday party photo prop, senior pictures, or social media (Instagram or Facebook!)

  • Craft project for the kids (summer camp, birthday party, after school program)

My favorite source for inspiration is definitely Pinterest.

Pinterest: I have over 15,000 followers on my Pinterest page with a variety of boards for you to get ideas from. Start with my "Unicorn Photo Shoot", "Fairy Inspiration ", and "Tack Inspiration" boards to get started. Click here for my main Pinterest page or select the board you want to see below:

The Unicorn Horn

For the unicorn horn, you have a couple options: you can either buy one, or if you’re feeling crafty, you can make one yourself!

There all sorts of unicorn horns available. There are fabric horns, plastic horns, glass horns, etc., and they range in length. If you have a pony, you may want to consider a shorter horn than you would use for a larger horse. Some horns even come adorned with flowers, gems, or beads. Generally, you will simply tie the horn onto your bridle/halter (either onto the brow band or onto the cheek piece and headpiece) using the ties at the base of the horn. Most horns you purchase will come with instructions.

You will also have color options. You can decide based on your horse’s coat color, mane and tail, costume, or your accessories. Personally, I like to match the horse's coat color as it looks the most natural. 

Many Etsy sellers will also work with you to create a custom piece that is unique to your needs.

Below are some of my favorite Etsy shops that sell affordable unicorn horns: 


Avry Couture Creations

Beautiful unicorn horn and flower crown sets for your photo shoot or wedding. Beautiful color themes with blush, lavender, silver, and gold. Comes in two sizes 8" and 11".  Visit store...


If Wishes Were Ponies

More expensive fabric unicorn horns but they offer a wider range of colors and custom sizes. If you have a very small pony or a large draft they can customize it for you. The Natural-Look Unicorn Horn™ attaches using either non-detachable or detachable loops and the Unicorn Browband comes attached to a browband.  Visit store...


The Unicorn Corner

These horns are made out of durable, lightweight plastic which is safe for horses and their handlers. Each horn in the Unicorn Corner studio is made from their original sculptures. They have a realistic spiral and a glittery finish. Three sizes available 7, 9, and 12 inch.  Visit store...


SuperAwwwsome

Handmade horns available in multiple sizes, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10,11 inches. They attach with ribbon or elastic cording. Unicorn horns come in a wide variety of colors. Visit store...


 

Baby Birdie Boutique

Affordable fabric unicorn horns with beautiful floral accents. Her horns come in 5', 8", 10" or 12" sizes and she also offers two attachments including an elastic band and a large french clip. Visit store...


The great horn that is between his eyes signifies that he is the supreme king.
— Book of Daniel VIII

If you have any questions about choosing a unicorn horn or you sell them online and would like to be added to this post, please send me an email at beginthedance@gmail.com.

Leave a comment below and share your experience or head over to the Fantasy Photo Shoots Facebook Group and share photos with the group. It is an amazing group of talented, creative people and you will have fun sharing your photos, getting ideas from others, and asking questions. Click here to go to join the group.

Up Next: DIY Glitter Hooves, Manes, & Tails!

Click here to learn a CHEAP and FAST version of Twinkle Toes for your horse...

Whenever I perform with my horse the first thing that everyone compliments us on is our use of GLITTER! I particularly love to make Douwe's or Rovandio's hooves gold, silver, or copper, whatever matches our costume. Everyone always asks how I get the glitter to stay on the hooves and on their manes and tails. So, I wanted to share this SUPER EASY secret to getting your own "cheap" version of Twinkle Toes!

Beautiful Dancer SAILS with Andalusian Horse

"When I dance, the sun sails safely through the night;
When I dance, the future is formed by my feet;
When I dance, the stars move through the heavens;
When I dance, Venus shimmers the desert;
When I dance, dust becomes silver, stones are made of gold!"
Cosi Fabian
 

This video was shot back in 2013. I am riding Rovandio (Andalusian/Lipizzan gelding) bitless with my good friend, and dancer, Lydia Rose Spencer. The footage is from Isaac Royal Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, a picturesque setting. The video was created by Alan Dillingham, the director I worked with on the indie film Essential Realism, Frost Bite and a short film called Invasion. It was a COLD and WINDY day but Rovandio was excellent. I was planning to ride Douwe but he wasn't quite himself so Rovy filled in and was superb. Only one day to practice with Lydia dancing and he figured it out in a snap. Make sure you see the part where Lydia defies gravity in her split leaps at the 2 minute mark! Enjoy!

How to Stay Motivated to Ride in the Winter Time, Ideas & Online Resources

I have lived in Maine my entire life and can relate to everyone out there who struggles with motivation in the winter. The ice, the snow, the below freezing temperatures, the frozen bits, the frozen fingers and toes!!!! Riding in the winter is certainly not for the faint of heart! However, the winter training season can also be a great opportunity for you to take your riding to the next level. Here are some ideas and online resources that I have used over the years that I hope will keep you going on those 10 degree days (or colder!) where you really want to ride but are frustrated and tired of winter.

Education

The winter months are the PERFECT time for continuing your education. If there aren't any clinics in your area don't worry! I have included a few online resources that I have devoured in the past.

Clinics: Look at your region and find out if there are any dressage instructors that will be teaching nearby. You can learn just as much or more auditing a clinic than even riding in one. By watching all the different riders and horses you can take away volumes of information to apply to your horse. Remember to bring your notebook to take notes and have a comfortable chair!

Online Training:
DressageClinic.com: This website is perfect if you don't want to miss all the big events happening in the dressage world. They post full videos of national symposiums and events like the USDF Convention, Global Dressage Forum and the NEDA Symposium. Watch clinics with all the top trainers and Olympic riders like Ashley Holzer, Ingrid Klimke and many more. Their monthly membership is $39.95 but if you pay for 3, 6, or 12 months at a time you can get that price down to $24.95 a month. Click here to visit their website: www.dressageclinic.com

DressageTrainingOnline.com: Imagine if you could visit the barns of Olympic riders and watch them school their horses and teach lessons.......this website lets you do just that! They have over a 1,000 videos to browse through and add 10 new videos every month. Their membership fee is currently $28.80 a month and it is certainly worth it to watch world class riders and their horses. They have also added an Evaluate My Ride feature where you can submit your own video and have it critiqued by the trainer or judge of your choice. Click here to visit their website: www.dressagetrainingonline.com

Working Student or Riding Vacation: If you can take off a few weeks or a few months why not try a working student opportunity somewhere warm! I have been a working student in Wellington, Fl for international dressage judge Gabriel Armando and I have also taken a dressage riding vacation in Portugal before under George Malleroni. Both experiences were incredibly valuable in shaping the rider I am today. My visit to Portugal boosted my work ethic and showed me what it took to become a great rider (riding over 7 horses a day!) and my experience in Wellington opened my eyes to the behind the scenes. I was able to visit training barns of Olympic riders and watch them train and teach.

Work with Me (Sandra Beaulieu): I have a new (December 2017) coaching group online where you can learn how to improve your dressage, teach your horse tricks, learn liberty and in-hand exercises, and upload short video clips of you and your horse for review. Behind-the-scenes access to schooling sessions, lessons, and performances. This opportunity is $9.99/month, with three new videos added weekly! Click here to learn more about my positive, creative style of training. 

Playtime

The winter months are a great time to relax and play with your horse. Have you been wanting to try some liberty training or teach your horse tricks? I first began riding Rovandio with Douwe at liberty because of the weather. It was too cold outside to take the time to ride both so I just put them in the ring together and started experimenting. That blossomed into a new performance routine for us and a new language between me and my horse. Here are some trick training resources I have used to help me get started:

Allen Pogue: Allen has a variety of trick and liberty training videos that can help you teach your horse how to lay down, bow, work on the pedestal and much more. He also sells props like bean bags to teach your horse to sit, pedestals, and balls for your horse to play with. Click here to check out his website: www.imagineahorse.com

Heidi Herriott I met Heidi when I was teaching at Southern Oaks Equestrian Center in Tallahassee, FL. She has been the head trainer at Arabian Nights and has her own tv show called Horse Trix TV. She showed me how to teach Douwe to smile, pick up objects and we also worked on spanish walk and rear. She has a variety of YouTube videos to help you get started and she also teaches clinics. Click here to visit her website: www.heidiharriott.com
 

Photoshoot

Photograph taken by Lydia Rose Spencer

Photograph taken by Lydia Rose Spencer

Have you ever wanted to do a winter photo shoot? It can be challenging but well worth it! I have done a few winter photo shoots over the years and my best advice is to LAYER! You have to get creative with layering so that you can wear a fun costume but not freeze to death! Using hand and toe warmers and bringing spare blankets and large jackets out to the site will help you enjoy the photo shoot and have fun. Waiting for the perfect snowfall can be frustrating and you have to be sure there is no ice under the snow. If you want to read more about photo shoot I did last year with a beautiful red cape click here.

I hope these ideas and resources help inspire you to stay motivated this winter. I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or email me any questions at beginthedance@gmail.com. How do you keep motivated in the winter? Do you have any other ideas that might be helpful to others that are struggling?

Join Sandra's New Online Coaching Group!

CLICK HERE TO GO TO PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP

Sandra & Douwe - Friesian Breed Demos - 2016 Equine Affaire

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."
                          -
 Mother Theresa

I was very proud of Douwe's performance in the Coliseum. He can get excited with larger audiences but he focused well and stole the show with his kisses, smiles, and wiggles. We also rode in the Mallory South building and he did well, but was not as relaxed. There isn't a proper warmup for the Mallory South building and waiting outside on the pavement isn't ideal for the horses to stay relaxed. I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to Danielle Barrasso for organizing the breed demos and for letting me stable with her in C-Barn. Enjoy this video of Douwe in the Friesian breed demos!