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Planning your music test: week 5

  • Posted: 20 April 2013

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To coincide with the launch of our new Freestyle to Music class we've put together a week by week guide to get you started with all you need to know about how to plan your test.

Week 5: Editing your music

This is the part that most people worry about. It’s pretty easy to edit your music yourself but if you are not very confident there are lots of companies that will do it for you. You usually would have to supply a video of yourself riding your test, the timings (see below) and your choice of music for each pace or section. There are lots of adverts for companies providing this type of service in the equestrian press, or you could try searching online.

Play your video and time each section as accurately as possible:

  • From the start outside the arena until the first halt
  • The length of the halt
  • From the move off until the end of the first section (if you start in trot the end of the section is where you change to a different pace)
  • Continue timing for all the sections from each change of pace until the next one

For example your timing should look something like this:

Entry: 16 seconds
Halt: 6 seconds
Trot: 2 minutes 15 seconds
Walk: 38 seconds
Canter: 1 minute 21 seconds
Trot: 25 seconds
(This is the timing for a Novice freestyle test adding up to 4 minutes 39 seconds from after the halt.)

As a rough guide you could plan on around 2 min for trot, 30 seconds for walk and 2 minutes for canter. This gives you time to perhaps show more of your strong pace and if necessary cut the time for the others a little making the total time up to around 4 minutes and 45 seconds.

There are many ways to edit your music depending on the computer equipment you have available. Audacity is a free, downloadable application, which is popular and easy to use. If you have an Apple Mac you could use iMovie, which allows you to view your video at the same time, which is helpful.

Start with the entry, chose a phrase from your music that has a definite halt. The end of the trot music may supply this, it’s fine to use the same phrase at the start and end if you like. Select a phrase that is approximately the right length and ends with your halt music. You may need to adjust outside the arena that you start from if the phrase is a little longer or shorter than your timing plan. The software you use should allow you to fade in or out if the phrase you want to use doesn’t quite fit.

Allow a few seconds of silence for your halt.  Remember you need enough time to salute and readjust the reins afterwards so 4-6 seconds should be about right.

After the halt you want to start with a definite move off. The beginning of your track may not be quite right for this if it has an introduction, it may be better to start the music piece where the introduction finishes. Allow the track to run for the duration of the first section and try and find a point where a phrase ends just as the transition to the next section starts. Fade out the end of the music slightly so that there isn’t an abrupt change.

Continue to build up each section in a similar way selecting passages from the relevant music to match each pace.

Your last section will end with a halt; again, the end of the relevant track should supply this. If it doesn’t consider changing pace at the end so you can use a different piece of music. In the example of timing for a Novice test earlier there is a section of 25 seconds of trot at the end for just this reason. After your salute at the end fade out the track slightly if it runs on too long.

Play your finished track over several times and make adjustments if needed. If you can play your video at the same time it’s really helpful. When you’re happy put it on a CD or make a downloadable file ready to practice.

See also:
Weeks 1 and 2 preparation
Week 3 creating a floor plan
Week 4 filming and adjusting
Week 6 practice and polish