Fortissimo Freestyles was set up by the dressage rider and classically trained musician, Melissa Widdis. After being shown her site by mum, I emailed to see if Melissa would be able to answer some questions about her amazing career choice. The answers she kindly sent and you can find below.
For those of you attending Equitana over the next few days, you can find Melissa Widdis of Fortissimo Freestyles in the education area of Equitana at the showgrounds.
Have you always been interested in horses and how did Fortissimo Freestyles come about? Was it something you foresaw as an income possibility?
From the time I knew what a horse was I was interested in horses.
Fortissimo Freestyles came about through the black horse Aria who is on my web site. I was competing with him in a team event which required freestyles for each team member and as the only musician on the team I thought I’d have a go at it… then I was hooked.
I didn’t consider it as an income possibility. Not full time anyway.
How much of your day/week is hands on with horses?
Every day with my own horses and every day with clients horses but mainly through a video or dvd with clients.
In this field is it possible for someone to be a full time professional, earning a livable income?
It depends what you mean by “livable income”. I work full time but as my business is only in it’s infancy I have done a lot of work for free (especially this year with the Olympics and Equitana) so it’s hard to get a guage on what my actual income would be and what people are prepared to pay.
In Europe and the US, designers make a killing because people have to ride a freestyle to qualify whereas in Australia people have to qualify to ride a freestyle.
What are the general steps taken to be able to provide such a service to others for freestyle events? Is there a large demand for this type of work?
I help people design their choreography which they then film and send to me. We then select the music which I edit around the horses movements.
As far as demand it’s really an unknown quantity. I don’t think I have been in the business long enough to answer that but freestyles events are definitely increasing in popularity. As people are now becoming more savvy with technology a lot of people have a go at doing their own music.
Any advice for those interested in pursuing this line of work?
You need excellent people skills and you need to be prepared to really put yourself out there. People in the dressage fraternity expect the best not just in relation to the final product but with customer service also.
Is there anything else with horses you’d love to learn about or try?
Yes I’d love to learn more about intuitive horseman/womanship so we can train in a more harmonious way rather than saying “do it or else.”
The more I can learn in any aspect relating to horses the better.
Favourite horse memory?
Sneaking out my bedroom window as a kid to ride my horse bareback in the moonlight… she was a very special horse!
To be the best in my industry and to get to PSG on my mare before she retires then ride her baby onto Grand Prix.
Best thing about your sport/profession?
The endless pursuit for perfection… same as music really
“DRESSAGE, n.: the passionate pursuit of perfection by the obsessively imperfect.”