Friday, June 18, 2010

The Weekend Reader

Just wanted to make a suggestion to all of you in the NYC area if you are looking for a horsey good time to fill your weekend. My sweetie was kind enough to surprise me with tickets last weekend to Cavalia, the Cirque Du Soleil type equestrian show now happening at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. I had read about Cavalia in one of my many equine mags some time ago, and was greatly impressed by its director's outlook on training horses in a way that truly allows their spirit and personalities to shine through in their performances. Each vignette in the show features 1 or more of the animals performing either under saddle or at liberty. To augment the horses one gets to see some pretty amazing human acrobatics often occurring overhead. There is a lot of aerial work, as well as vaulting acts which utilize the horses in some pretty death defying ways!

The amazing thing about the show is that it features 26 stallions, who seem to get along quite harmoniously during their performances. The cast is rounded out by 35 or so additional geldings, but I could still anticipate that there might be a fair bit of squabbling that could ensue if the horses were not so highly and adeptly engaged with their trainers. One of the stallions is a big, dark bay Lusitano who truly captivates his audience as he performs a dreamy higher level dressage performance that showcases the fire and energy of the Spanish/Portuguese breeds. His presence in the arena is mesmerizing...and that mane!!

My favorite vignette occurs near the end, when a large group of grey horses representing several different breeds (Spanish PRE, Arabian, Lusitano), is galloped into the performance arena for a fascinating at-liberty performance. The performance part of it was not what fascinated - at least for me. It was watching the 12 or so assembled horses interacting as a herd, biting, nipping, kicking and often intently focused on establishing their pecking order as the audience looked on. When the female trainer of the horses bid her group perform, they did so, and relatively flawlessly. But when she left them to mingle and linger amongst one another, their very natural herd dynamics began to assert themselves. Interestingly it was the younger male horses who were giving the rest of the group the most trouble. They were very obviously trying their best to show all assembled that they could be boss. For some reason these very normal, natural behaviors captivated me arguably more than the rigorous under saddle exercises that were featured in other parts of the show.

Overall I highly recommend Cavalia, for anyone who wants to while away an evening in complete awe of the beauty and athleticism of the equine. To enhance the experience, a performance goer can upgrade their seats at the venue for a special "meet the cast" horse lover's package, that provides backstage (back-stall) access. We unfortunately had a bus to catch back to Manhattan, or we would have done it. It's a great opportunity for all ages, and all levels of equine enthusiast (my BF, who has only ridden a horse one time, had an arguably better time than I did because he had never before experienced the wealth of grace, power and physical prowess that one witnesses when watching such a tremendous group of equines).

So get your tickets and go!

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