Ruth Hogan-Poulsen Dressage

Ruth Hogan Poulsen Dressage with training facilities in Plainfield, Vermont and Loxahatchee, Florida.

Rhythm Versus Tempo

Before you can pick the perfect music for your horse, you need to understand the difference between rhythm and tempo.

Many people use the words rhythm and tempo interchangeable, but they do not mean the same thing. I will talk about the meaning of each, both in musical terminology and in riding reference.

Rhythm - When riding, regularity of the rhythm refers to the even spacing between each step in a stride of walk, trot or canter. In music, rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. These sounds and silences are put together to form patterns of sound which are repeated to create rhythm.

Look at the two descriptions of rhythm and put them together. Think of the sounds and silences of the musical terminology and the even spacing between each step of your horse's gaits as the same thing. When the horse's foot is down it is a sound. When your horse's foot is up, it is silent. This is how we can relate the rhythm of music to the rhythm of your horse's gaits.

Tempo -Tempo is the speed of the music or the speed of your horse. Depending on how fast you want to go you can adjust the rate of repetition of the rhythm. Tempo in music can be fast or slow or in-between. Music sounds and feels different depending on how fast it's played. The same piece of music will have a different effect or mood depending on weather it is played fast or slow.

Hopefully this will clarify the difference between rhythm and tempo as it applies to music and how it applies to your horse.

Next month we will talk more about what particular kind of music will accentuate your horse's strengths.