Last week, Donna shared the following video of her riding Hans while playing the violin. The video went viral on Facebook, making the local news as well. If you have trouble coordinating your aids (like I do), trying riding with something in your hands other than your reins!
This entire thing has been so funny to me, I should probably explain why I made this video. “Pop Goes the Weasel” is a song I have sung to my young horses for years to teach them cadence, and also to regulate my own seat to keep them steady. About six years ago I had the thought that I should try playing it on violin while I cantered my super broke show horse, Zena, but just never got around to it. (i.e. take the time out from training, bring the junker violin down from the cabin where it’s been for the last 10 years, clean my boots, etc.).
Then several years ago, my good buddy and hockey player, Jordan Belardes, got a video of himself playing his violin while ice-skating and I thought, “I’d better step up my game!” But still did nothing about it, until I recently saw a video going around of a guy playing the Sibelius violin concerto on the back of a horse (wonderfully well, might add.). But he was doing it at the walk, and being led. So I figured it was finally time. (Though I have to say I didn’t put much effort into it. I barely wiped off my boots, and only the side of the saddle that was facing the camera, and I wish I had been wearing something other than 10-year-old riding tights and a 20-year-old Lakers T-shirt. But hey, at least I matched!)
Played it for Hans once on the ground, then took him to the round pen. Had Simon hand me my violin - the sound of it just in my right hand made him bolt, but I was able to steer him with my left rein into the rail after a few strides. Also seeing my shadow on the ground in front of him looking different sort of freaked him out. Our first run through was at the walk, which I had Simon video. I thought that maybe that was going to have to be it, but then decided to try to trot him a little, and then canter. He seemed fine, so I play through it once, then had Simon film me twice.
I used the second take because the violin didn’t sound quite as bad, haha. (Still sounds pretty bad though - I was having a hard time keeping a good contact with the string for a good tone. But whatever. 😝)
People have been pondering that this must’ve taken extreme concentration, but it really didn’t. Riding and playing violin are two of the most natural things I do, as well as following a conductor and a pulse (physical or mental). So all of that was easy. What I was actually thinking about was pushing him over with my right leg every stride to keep him on the rail so he wouldn’t fall to the inside, and keeping my left leg on and pulsing in the tempo so he wouldn’t trot or slow down. I guess that sounds complicated, but it really wasn’t to me. It was as natural as breathing.
So there you go!