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Finding Your Rhythm with Music
 By Winniefield Park   •   27th Aug 2017   •   832 views   •   0 comments


Young horses have poor rhythm. They are unbalanced, growing and unused to carrying a rider. As a result, they start off uncoordinated. Beginner riders donít have rhythm either. But theyíre able to identify rhythm, unlike a horse. But until they really get the feel of where their legs, arms, bodies, and heads are in space and learn to match their center of gravity with their horses, they too will have a problem keeping a steady rhythm. A green horse with a beginner rider will have an even harder time of it.

Good rhythm means your horse is using its body and legs efficiently. It means itís moving freely making the ride more comfortable for you. Thatís what good training and good riding are all about:

Helping your horse to be more comfortable and safer to ride while making the horseís job easier. Rhythm is important enough that it is the foundation of what is called the training pyramid when riding dressage. Thereís rhythm, right across the bottom, before everything else.

So what exactly is rhythm and how do you get it? A horse has a natural rhythm. The walk is a four beat gait. The trot is a two beat gait and the canter is a three beat gait. Just messing around in the pasture, with no load to balance on its back, rhythm isnít terribly important to your horse. But, when asked to balance a rider, turn corners, jump, and change speeds, called cadence within gaits, and smoothly change gaits, called transitions, smooth, steady rhythm becomes more important. Notice rhythm doesnít really have to do with speed. A slow trot can have an uneven rhythm or smooth rhythm. So can every speed between and within a gait. Good rhythm is controlled and steady.

How do you get rhythm? For the rider, a good coach with a horse that already knows its job is the easiest way. From there, itís practice, practice, practice on and off the lunge line. This will help you learn to recognize the rhythm and control it with your body.

Musical Beats
There are also a few things that can help recognize rhythm. Music is one of the most popular. The songs you play have to be appropriate to the rhythm you want to maintain. This means finding music that has a beat that matches each gait. There are apps that can help you with this. TempoRun is one Android app that will help you categorize music selections with similar beats. Using a metronome is another way. There are also metronome apps.

Rhythm Beads
Rhythm beads help you hear the rhythm a little easier. These can be purchased, or you may wish to make some yourself. Their soft jingle might help you catch the beat, and can help drown out other distracting background noises.

Singing and Chanting
If you havenít put your playlist together, singing or chanting can help. Recite a rhythmic nursery rhyme or poem. Sing or hum a simple song. For example, Mairzy Doats is good at a trot. For a canter, itís a bit harder to find a song with a pronounced triple beat. Try Black Eyed Peas, Pump It.

Donít worry that youíre not in the ring or arena when you consciously practice developing your rhythm. You can sing, chant or listen to music on your phone as you go down the trail. Be sure to pick a flat section, as you will be frustrated over rough ground. But, the upside is that even when the going isnít perfect, being more in tune with your horse will make those uneven and hilly sections of trail easier for both of you.
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