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By Patti Schofler The Man Behind the Music


This talented artist is a master at matching melodies to the movements of dressage.


f you were lucky enough to spectate the Grand Prix dressage at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, you were likely blown away at how the background music sounded more like freestyle music, comple- menting the individual style and movement of each horse performing the test. These were not random tunes lucky enough to match the rhythm and tempo of the horse’s gaits. Instead, the music was artfully engineered by one person, sound engineer Markus Hinzle. A DJ at one-time, Markus Hinzle, a


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native German who lives in Warendorf, founded his company Happy Hippo in 1992. Today he manages the sound and music of international equestrian events such as the Mannheimer Maimarkt, the CSIO in Mannheim, the International German Master World Cup tournament in Stuttgart and the Baden Classics in Offenburg. In 2016, he served as music director for dressage at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2018, besides the WEG, he designed the music for Olympia, the international horse show in London. Markus also produces freestyle music for dressage


riders Emma Hindle of England and Ana Balkenhol and Dorothee Schneider, both from Germany. We asked Markus to share with us how he works his


magic with the music at top dressage events. WT: Please explain the name of your company, Happy


Hippo. MH: Hippo is the Latin work for horse. I want to make horses happy with my music. That was the idea behind the name.


WT: How do you pair the music to the type of horse?


Have you seen the horses before? Are you picking music for that specific horse? MH: This is a very sensitive issue. I always try to match the music with the type of the horse. No music with a lot of beat for a nervous, full-blooded horse; rather slightly soothing music. I know most of the horses of the interna- tional dressage circuit, and I always try to find music that fits the individual horse-rider pair.


WT: Do you select specific music for specific test


movements and gaits? MH: Yes, of course I do. I pick music for the different


gaits. That makes it more interesting and entertaining for the spectators.


WT: Do you pre-record the music for each horse’s


performance, or is it in ‘real time’ that you play the music jumping from tune to tune during the performance?


MH: I do it all in real time. That means I always react to what happens in the square. The riders/horses need very different times in the Grand Prix. As soon as the gait changes I react. That would never fit otherwise. It’s always live.


WT: How many hours does it take


to prepare for a show? MH: It varies. Of course prepar-


ing for a big international cham- pionship takes a lot of work and time. Sometimes I spend a whole day at my computer just trying to find a single melody that matches


a certain horse. Other days, I work much faster. I can never say it in advance—it‘s an artist‘s work.


WT: Is your music directed toward the country you’re in at the time? MH: I rather try to direct it toward the rider‘s home


country. But that is never my top priority. The most impor- tant thing is to have music that fits horse and rider.


WT: What is your music collection like? How many songs? Is it all on your computer? MH: Good question. Right now I have about 950,000


titles stored on my music computer—some of them in various versions. But most of them aren‘t suited for dressage tests. I also work at stallion licensings, stal- lion shows and jumping competitions, which require a whole different style of music.


WT: How is your music organized? By horses? By


style of music? MH: By title and artist/band. I keep re-arranging indi-


vidual tests to prevent repeating myself too much. That‘s why I do not organize it by horses or style.


Above: Markus Hinzle, founder of Happy Hippo, provides the music at major equestrian events. Warmbloods Today 23


Courtesy Markus Hinzle


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