Musical Ride Guidelines

Musical Ride Guidelines

Musical Rides provide a valuable means of teaching control and discipline, as well as improving the skill of the riders and training the ponies. They can be attractive displays and last but not least, they are great fun for those taking part.
The main attraction lies in the music and the movement of all riders in unison.
Most important points are:

  1. Movement:
    The ride should fill the arena with movement. The pace can be varied (walk, trot or canter) but whichever the pace it should, as far as possible, be kept steady.
  2. Uniformity:
    A uniform turn out for riders, similar size and colour of ponies in sections and uniform distances between the ponies (usually one pony’s length in single ride) is desirable. When ponies are side by side in line - all contribute to the spectacle.
  3. Simplicity:
    The smart performance of simple movements, well within the capabilities of those taking part, often produces the most effective ride. Size of arena to be used must be noted on entry form. Order of going will be 20 x 40 arena followed by 30 x 60 arena.

The size of the arena will depend on the number of riders taking part, and the demands of the ride. For twelve to sixteen riders, an arena from 40 to 60 meters in length and 20 to 30 meters in width would normally be sufficient. However up to 20 riders can take part once they are in multiples of four. The 20 x 60 metre standard dressage arena is excellent for many rides. The maximum size arena that can be made available will be 60 meters in length and 30 metres wide. If they wish, rides may reduce this arena size using moveable markers. They will be responsible for bringing, laying out, and removing these markers.

Markers placed outside the arena are required to show the ponies from where movements are made - letters can also be used - they could be replaced by plants in pots, or small posts for the actual display - but would have to be practiced very well beforehand.

At the Festival, a dressage arena on flat ground will be provided and teams may make alterations with consent of the judge in advance of their entrance.

A P.A. system will be available, but teams should bring their own recording of the music required for their display.
Please bring a written introduction to the ride which can be read by their own commentator or by the organizers of the Festival if desired.

Music - Can be selected from old favourites or popular hits of the day. The main essential is that the tempo should suit the pace of the ponies:

  • 4/4 Time for the Walk
  • 2/4 Time for the Trot
  • 6/8 Time for the Canter 
  • Examples:
    • Walk Any slow Military March
    • Trot Surrey with the fringe on Top, The Full Monty
    • Canter Irish Washerwoman, The Birdie Song, The Jungle Book, Riverdance

It is the opinion of some trainers that members can learn the movements for a ride more easily in 2 to 3 days’ intensive practice rather than in many rehearsals at intervals. One or two movements should be taught and practiced at a time, then amalgamated with others to make a ride. The first few practices should be on foot, followed by more at the walk and then at the trot. The canter should only be introduced when the riders know the movements well. It may be found helpful to number the riders - the leader to wear an armband during practices.

The best riders should be chosen for leading files and No 1 section and should maintain a steady pace and correct distances.
This is geared towards the average child on the average pony - to teach them riding skills, confidence and pace, concentration and safety e.g. keeping the right length between ponies.
Safety: Musical Ride members must wear approved riding hats.
Depending on the number of entries DCs will be advised about the time of Tack Inspection. Safety of tack and riding gear, grooming and care of pony including feet will be of utmost importance.
Stable Management: Turn out of pony and tack – this must be safe, and the pony should be in good condition.
Artistic Presentation: Very expensive costumes are not necessary – most marks are given for the riding, team work and choreography.
Music: DCs or Team Trainers must bring their own music.
Further Reading:

  • Riding to Music - Janet W. MacDonald - published by J.A. Allen.
  • Mounted Games and Gymkhanas (orange book) in Pony Club Shop.
  • The new Instructors Handbook in Pony Club Shop.

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