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Tokyo Olympic Equestrian Competition (CREDIT--FEI-CHRISTOPHE-TANIERE)
Tokyo Olympic Equestrian Competition (CREDIT--FEI-CHRISTOPHE-TANIERE)

By: Sophia Wilbourn

I began my dancing career at the age of five with music by great composers like Tchaikovsky and Claude Debussy. As the years flew by, I changed, but the music did not. In the same way that ballet music hasn’t changed, dressage music has remained stagnant for years, recycling the same dozen classical composers’ works. It’s no surprise that dressage attracts so little viewership considering humans lose interest in any piece of media regardless of the content if the sound is not good within eight seconds.

But all of that is changing. New music is reviving dressage in the public eye. Much like what happened to figure skating after the Olympic Committee began allowing music with words, dressage is experiencing extra attention.

While not nearly as viral or “pop music like” as the following two performances, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro’s World Record Breaking Freestyle Test at London Olympics has my heart. The pair performed to a Tom Hunt’s remix of “This Is Berk”, an original score by John Powell for the 2010 Dreamworks film, How to Train Your Dragon. Not only will this performance go down in history for the stunning art and skill executed, but it also serves as one of the first popular routines to a relatively famous score taken from an extremely successful movie, setting the stage for using new music.


Another notable performance was at the 2016 Rio Olympics where Spain’s Severo Jurado rode Lorenzo to the tune of “Smooth” by Santana and “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi. Their routine went viral, even appearing in a segment on the Late Late Show with James Corden. In 2021, Jurado repeated this routine aboard his new horse, Fendi. While neither pair medaled in their respective Olympic Games, they can be credited with being the first viral dressage duo, specifically for their music choice.

Most recently at the Tokyo Olympics, Steffen Peters of the US Dressage Team rode his horse Suppenkasper in the dressage Grand-Prix Freestyle Individual Final. While Peters is the oldest Olympian to medal since 1952, his music taste continues to evolve with the times. Their seven-minute routine (linked above) was choreographed to a remix featuring “Robin Schultz and James Blunt’s ‘OK’, the Haddaway ‘What Is Love?’ club edit, Starley’s ‘Call On Me (Ryan Riback Remix)’, and the Firebeatz remix of Alex Gaudino’s always iconic ‘Destination Calabria’, remixed by Taylor Kade.

There are more interesting articles in our section on Riding Disciplines.

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