I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the best way to listen and ride to music. There are a number of factors to consider.
Safety First! Then, Music!
Your safety and the safety of others riding with you is the number one priority, so be sure that your horse and the other horses around you are aware that the music will be on and that you don’t start it in full volume.
An unannounced drum roll at the wrong moment can surprise any horse or rider, so be thoughtful about the start of the music. You should consider starting at low volume and then turning it up make sure your horse and everyone around you is okay with the music.
Once the music is going, most horses will enjoy it as much as you will!
Practice Riding to Music
When choosing your equipment, the first questions to ask are where you will most often be listening to music!
For example, where are you riding when you want to listen to music? Are you in an indoor, or in an outdoor ring, or are you hacking out?
If you are in an indoor arena with a convenient power supply, most any sound system or boom box will work.
Over the last number of years, with growing technology, the use of Bluetooth devices that can pair with your phone are super cheap and easy to use now.
If you can pair your phone with the vehicle you drive, you can pair with a speaker!
No need for wifi or electrical either! Most of the Bluetooth speakers are wireless and rechargeable with a plug in. Here is an example of one I have used.
Using Headphones or Earbuds While Riding
Although head phones or earbuds are convenient, they can present problems.
It is NOT safe to ride in an arena with other horses and riders with headphones on or earbuds in.
If another rider has a problem or a loose horse comes running into the ring, you may not be aware of a potential problem because you can’t hear what is going on around you.
Think of riding your horse like driving your car.
You should be completely aware of what is going on around you to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
The second reason I don’t like my riders to use head phones, is that the horse cannot hear the music!
Yes, in fact the music does influence your horse.
Many horses will know when “their” music comes on and quite remarkably adjust their gait into the tempo of the music.
Why You Might Invest in a Sound System
If you are riding to music on a daily basis with the goal of competing to music, then you need to use a sound system where the music is louder and around you as it will be at a show.
You and your horse need to experience the sound and fullness of the music as it will be at a show, many times before you go down the centerline.
In doing this, you will help your horse adjust to the music, volume and depth of the sound. This will help eliminate spooking or getting nervous when the music comes on.
Many horses will become more “alive” when their music comes on. Try not to squash this enthusiasm, but rather use it and recycle it for more expression and brilliance!
After all it’s FREESTYLE!!! GO FOR IT!!
Practice Using Digital Files
As CDs are now completely out dated (I still love mine), the use of MP3 and similar files that can easily be transferred to your phone and computer are great.
Many horse shows have specific format requirements for freestyle music submissions, such as MP3 files, USB memory sticks, or even CDs. Check with your competition venue to find out how they would like you to present their music to them.
And, ideally, practice playing that digital file (or CD) on YOUR sound system as well as several other systems as well, to test compatibility on other systems!
What Music to Choose for Freestyle?
Still undecided on what music is right for you and your horse?
I created several downloadable / streamable albums of music for riders to “try on” various music styles and tempos with their horses – some albums also including narration to help guide you through the new experience of riding to music!
Try out my sample albums!
Did you know that Ruth also designs freestyles? Don’t forget to check out her sample freestyles as well as her articles on riding to music / dressage musical freestyles!