Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing

So uh, guys it’s July. And not only is it July, but it is July 13th. Which means NAJYRC is officially 12 days away. Oh My Gosh!!!!

The biggest thing these past weeks has been getting my musical freestyle all finished before we have to leave. We were fortunate enough to meet this amazing couple through a friend who got her freestyle done from them. The company that is doing my freestyle is called Miracle Music. They have been nothing short of fantastic! This has been the first year that I have had to design a kur for any dressage competition and it has been a huge undertaking. It all started with my home-made freestyle that I did for the Poplar Place Show in May. Designing the choreography myself has been a challenge within itself. For both freestyles this year, including my current one with Miracle Music, I have done the choreography, although this time it has been with a little help from my kick-ass trainer.

The music has been a big challenge, and the part that had me really worried. At first I had decided that I wanted to do music from the movie Top Gun. When we purchased Val he had no real barn-name at the time; he was affectionately dubbed “The chestnut”. We played for many ideas for names but eventually decided on Val, which led to Val Kilmer, who of course plays Iceman in the movie Top Gun. It has always been mine and my mother’s fantasy that I someday ride a kur to the music from this great film (it only helps that my Dad was in the airforce and I was born into the military in Lancaster, CA). We fiddled with the music enough that I was able to do my freestyle at the Poplar Place Dressage Show in May to the music, although the downside was that the freestyle was too vocal heavy to be competitive at nationals. Part of the qualification process to compete in NAJYRC is that you have to ride a freestyle at the level at least once and earn a score of at least 60%. After that show and earning well above a 60% I still knew that we were going to have to do some serious work if I was going to be able to really score well at Nationals.

When my mother contacted Miracle Music we really had less than no idea about music! It was clear that Top Gun was out of the question, at least for this year, because of the heavy vocals. Freestyle’s have been moving towards an acceptance of using lyrics and vocals but the songs from the soundtrack still have too much to be acceptable. I was tossing a lot of music ideas around in my head but it was my mother who came up with the idea to use swing music for my freestyle. I was sceptical, and so were both Marissa and Johnny Woodall, but my mother turned out to be genius. We brought a great swing CD to them when Miracle Music when we met with them for the very first time and both my trot and walk music came from that CD. In that first meeting we listened to the CD while watching a video I had filmed of his basic gaits, which they had already figured out the beats per minute of. Thankfully, Marissa had a piece of music that was perfect for the canter, considering she said that canter is usually the hardest music to find, and it fit the genre perfectly. I am a fan of old black-and-white movies and the music we chose really conveys that uplifted, happy feeling that you get when you watch Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, or Ginger Rogers on-screen. There is such an elegance and a contented bliss that I get from watching those movies, and the music is a huge part of the story. After listening to the CD of swing I knew that this would match both Val and I and that it could really add that special element to our freestyle.

Jason and I then collaborated on the choreography and filmed it. I dropped that off for Miracle Music and they got started matching our music choices to the choreography. Since then it has been a back-and-forth process of music matching the choreography and then matching the choreography with the music. We have filmed a total of three different sets of patterns to date, and hopefully the first ‘final’ run through will be done by the end of this week. I will get to ride it all put together this weekend for the first time which is super exciting! After riding it then any tweaks that need to be done will get done! I got to listen to the trot and walk music this week which has been great and I am obsessed with it!

If you are interested in contacting these amazing people you can call 770.345.2776 or email them at Please go ahead and mention that you heard about them from me, so they know where you are being referred from! They really have done everything and more, and exceeded every intial expectation by a thousand!

Other than the musical freestyle front lots and lots of riding has been going on! Jason recently purchased his new horse, a beautiful five-year old Hanoverian. His name is Hamilton but he is affectionately nicknamed Babypony. He got him in late June/early July and he is such a cuddly big boy! He is so sweet and just wants to crawl into your lap and I adore just getting to love on him. I actually got to sit on him for the first time yesterday and it was an amazing privilege. Today I got to ride him again and we did trot poles for his very first time. He was petrified but was such a brave boy and within a handful of times was going over them like he had done it his entire life. He is an auditory horse though and is still very much a five-year old baby who is still unsure about the world. I did almost take a spill off of him today – my first almost-fall in years! – but it was so not his fault. In fact he was such a good boy about the incident, including stopping and getting his head on very quickly and waiting for me to hike myself up from dangling off the side of his neck. Babypony is super; I am so looking forward to watching him develop over the years into what I am sure will be a fantastic horse!

Val has been going great these past weeks too! His half pass hard and easy directions have changed, once again. Story of my life: I figure out how to ride him and then everything gets tossed out the window! He is getting stronger with each ride and it is all about systematic training where each day builds on the last. I am so excited about not only NAJYRC and then Gladstone two weeks later, but about next year and all the following. It is important for me to have a Grand Prix horse someday, not necessarily a Young Rider horse next year.

College is right around the corner which is super exciting too! I am attending the University of Georgia in the fall and have a super schedule which is going to work wonderfully with my position that I will be taking at the barn that will be Val’s home. I literally return from Gladstone straight to my first day of college, which is more than a little stressful. This post is from my new ice blue laptop which is so exciting! Hopefully this will mean that I can update more often, but I have not been successful in that so far. I promise very frequent updates when we are closer to NAJYRC and in Lexington, KY for the actual competition!

1 Comment

Filed under Training

One response to “Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing

  1. paigley

    steff, kick some NJYRC riders out of the water for all us second level and below riders ;)
    Good Luck!!

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