EquiTheater ~ thinking outside the box ~ by Laura Wyant
TIPS to getting started:
#1 Choosing your music. Your music can be instrumental, or a vocal. Be sure that your song is "G" (general audience) rated.
It's best to use fairly well known music rather than songs few have ever heard before. It's a good idea to test the music you are considering, with the horse you plan on using, as many horses have their likes & dislikes !
Your routine can be serious, dramatic, elegant, or funny. Songs which are the easiest to work with have a change in tempo and/or tell a story. Also check: Music, the legal issues.
You may re-record your song with a voice over, or with an introduction (a lead in) to "set the stage" to prepare the audience for your "character". However, there is to be NO advertising or promoting a person (re: trainer, specific horse, farm, etc.)
It is best to put your music on a CD rather than a cassette tape, that way there's no time lost to queue up the music. Be sure to make and use an extra copy at the event, do not take your original (just in case of loss or damage).
It is a good plan to check in advance to be sure that there is the proper (sound) equipment, and that your CD will play on it. Be sure there is somebody specific in charge of playing the music, and that they know when you want your music started (before or after you enter the arena), do not leave it up to the announcer to do it all. Experience has shown that doesn't work out very well.
The announcer is a very important factor. The breed of horse could be mentioned by the announcer when performing EquiTheater routines where an audience might not know what the various breeds of horse(s) are (at an all breed event). A good announcer will encourage the croud to be enthusiastic, to cheer and applaud each routine, adding to everyone's enjoyment and making it FUN.
Music and/or performance should not exceed 4 minutes. Music and performance may start after the exhibitor enters the ring. Or the exhibitor may choose to have the music start before entering the arena, and have their entry as part of their overall exhibition.
FAQ: why not longer?
Because... tactfully... if it's a really rotten performance, it'll soon be over.
#2 Putting your routine together. Be flexible. If your horse decides to "be a stinker" just "go with the flow" and not make a big deal out of the infraction, as the audience will just think you intended that "move" that it is part of the act. (The bonus is, it's excellent training for your horse to be made to continue on)
Remember that many shows have center ring decorations, so you need to be able to work your routine around that obstacle.
Do not ride "on the rail" right exactly in front of the audience, as they can not see the horse's feet and legs, nor can they get the whole effect of your costuming, or of your routine. You are Perform to the audience, that is: you do not have to use the whole arena, nor go deep into all the corners, etc. While you do have to work both directions, that doesn't mean you have to go round & round "on the rail". See: example video
The arena is your "stage" and you are "the star"
Show to the audience, use the arena as your stage. "Work your audience" encourage their participation, re: clap to the music, etc. You do not have to use the whole arena, nor go deep into all the corners, etc. While you do have to work both directions, don't go round & round "on the rail". EquiTheater isn't a rail class, or a pattern class done in costume. This is your opportunity to "ham it up".
#3 Performance. No particular order or sequence is necessary for the required two gaits, or the required moves. Unless specific gaits are a breed show requirement, there are no restrictions on the perfection of specific gaits. You may include tricks, spins, side passes, two tracks, or other moves which are too imperfect or unofficial to count in real reining or dressage, but are none the less, impress an audience.
EquiTheater is not musical dressage, freestyle reining, a musical ride, nor a rail~performance class. EquiTheater is not stepping to the music. However, the routine should match the varying tempo speed(s). Use tempo changes for dramatic effect, though don't spend too long in a slow tempo unless you have some really dynamic moves to go with it. Change gaits often to keep it interesting.
Tell a story, match the routine to the music or the lyrics. The rider/handler should use dramatic arm/facial/body movements, don't leave all the motion up to the horse. REMEMBER: the audience has to be able to SEE you/the moves from at least a 100 feet away! Consider doing a duet or trio act, which allows more action and creativity for horses that really only know basic moves (or for a song that needs more action).
Costume, skit and music must be kept "G" rated.
#4 Costume. Costume for horse and rider/handler should not impede the horse rider/handler in any way: vision or in performance. Safety First! Costume and skit should match the music. There is no penalty for wearing protective riding helmet, though you should decorate it to suit your costume and theme.
Water based poster paint works well to decorate/paint your horse. Using Baby Wipes is said to work best to remove the poster paint and makeup with the least chance of leaving stains. You could also use Vasaline to make patterns and then cover them with glitter. It all wipes right off.
#5 Equipment ~ maybe English, Western, Sidesaddle, or even Bareback. With a bridle or without, a neck rope, a jaw string, hula hoop, or any combination thereof. Check first with the Show's rules and Management before using any training equipment or devices. Should the rider choose to bring in a mounting block to do a mount/dismount as part of their routine, they must remove the mounting block when leaving the arena (and/or any other props or other equipment). For everybody's safety, the horse(s) must have a halter & lead and/or bridle when entering or leaving the arena.
#6 PROPS ~ The addition of props is an added advantage to "play off of". However, do not give the audience an excuse to leave by taking too much time to set up/take down your props. Use of the National Flag is NOT ALLOWED.
#7. Attn: Riding Instructors, 4-H clubs, Therapeutic programs, etc. Working as a team in a skit would be a great way to develop communication skills, and do some team building with your family, families, and your volunteers. EquiTheater could be used as an incentive for students to work harder, and help them build confidence, by putting on a halftime show (at an open house, horse shows, football games, etc.) with the routines being the entertainment.
email: Laura Wyant ~or~ call: 541-998-2803