Freestyle dressage is an art form, as horse and rider work as a team to perform technically complicated routines to win high scores. The artistry is just as remarkable, pitting one side against another, in a battle which a judging panel decides by deducting points for every flaw.
Riders or trainers develop the choreography to music, highlighting the horse’s strengths. Programmes complement the horse because every horse is unique. For high-scoring performances, the routine elements harmonise well with a musical genre, such as rock ‘n’ roll, classical, or hip hop.
Choosing Freestyle Music
Freestyle is one of the most engaging equine sports because it brings out the horse’s rhythm. Riders often find music which matches the animal’s natural beat, creating dynamic performances that entertain audiences at equine events. Some trainers use videotaping equipment to identify a horse’s unique rhythm. Subsequently, setting the music to match the horse steps, helps the horse move to the beat.
Still, artistic performances influence judges differently. One judge may see excellence in a performance, which another judge does not view positively. Music helps to hide flaws and uplift the routine. Often riders find the music first, building the choreography around it.
Choosing the Winner
Judges closely watch the programmes, giving up to 10 points on five artistic elements, including choreography, music, harmony, interpretation, and level of difficulty. The rules allow some moves, such as a jog circle or half-turn. Others are forbidden, such as higher-level compulsory moves and flying changes. The scores are severely penalised by four points if a horse performs a restricted step. The connectivity and seamless grace between horse and rider are essential to winning over the judges. Horses must project energy and rhythm to beat stiff competition at professional events.
The technical aspects of the performance may increase the level of difficulty which can help a rider’s score. Judges award up to 10 points for each element, including tempo, stride, and the horse’s willingness to cooperate with the rider. Riders want every point, and they may train the horse to perform challenging elements to win.
Each routine must include the required elements to ensure judging equity for all competitors. The rider receives a zero for a missed technical component, negatively impacting the overall score, an average of all scores specific to each category, technical or artistic. Although equine freestyle is relatively new to the sport, it is providing competitors and audiences with great fun, as they sit in awe of the majestic, rhythmic horses.