Spring is the time for two of my favorite things. First, my horse’s birthdays. It is the day that the tables turn after 364 days of serving them and I get a present for me!
Second, it is time to dance. I love riding to music and musical freestyles. Horses respond to music and it is a creative expression for riders. I have choreographed for competition, exhibition and just fun. Clients have included Young Riders and Adult Amateurs, and once I created a pas de deux performed with a LIVE Japanese drum band.
In honor of the birthday of my retired horse, Spirit, I want to share the story of a really playful freestyle we performed several years ago. It was Halloween and since the point is to scare people, I chose music from The Full Monty. Yes, you remember… nudity. I wore a totally unflattering red Union suit, complete with the back flap. Spirit wore red wraps and pad, and off we went.
The entry music was You can Leave your Hat On. This is a particularly good choice for folks who wear riding helmets, a practice I highly recommend. I halted to salute the crowd, and just to be a bit flirtatious, I revealed a bra strap. No one recognized my industrial strength riding bra strap as lingerie, so the point might have been lost.
Spirit and I began, the music played bawdy tunes from The Full Monty soundtrack as we trotted and cantered, on the beat with complicated upper level dressage movements. We might have been a bit better than our costumes would lead you to expect.
Then the final song was a riotous version of The Stripper. I vaulted off Spirit’s back, slowly took off a red fringed glove and tossed it to the crowd. People looked nervous, parents grabbed for their children. The fear was palpable. I took a red leg wrap off of Spirit and tossed that to the crowd. It was getting very quiet. I shimmied and shook my way to the far side of my horse, flipped the buckles of my girth and tossed his saddle off in an instant. Spirit –totally naked- strutted to the music with me. A sigh of relief went up from the crowd, almost as loud as the applause.
While freestyles can be created for competition, they can also be just for fun, a way to play with your horse. At Infinity Farm, we’ve been enjoying the creation and performance of competition or just-for-fun freestyles for years.
If you’re interested in competing in freestyle this season, now is the time to start. I’d be happy to work with you to design a unique, creative freestyle that is an affirmation for you and your horse.
p.s. That was our last freestyle together, an injury forced Spirit to retire the next spring. We were working on a walking freestyle, trying to make use of the only gait we had left. The music was slow version of Save the Last Dance for Me. Happy Birthday, Spirit, and such a precious dancing horse you are. I will be Ginger to your Fred any time.
(Photo: Spirit and Sebastian, friends.)