Amazing Horses and People of Cavalia Odysseo
Cavalia Odysseo has officially arrived in Southern California. I had heard of the first Cavalia show a few years back. An amazing circus with horses and gymnastics. The creator of the show is from Canada, but the performers come from all corners of the globe. The troupe travels around the world with 65 horses performing under a 125 foot big top that houses a 30 foot mountain, carousel, and 53,000 gallon lake. Last week my wife, Ranae, and I got a behind the scenes tour of the facility.
Our first view of the Cavalia Odysseo as we travel south on the 405 is the three peaks of the big top. The company has built all this from the ground up in Orange County. The venue is a perfect spot at the intersection of two freeways, a wide-open verdant field nestled among the gently rolling hills. The company brought in 6,000 tons of dirt sand and stone just to create the stage. High above the center of the stage is carousel that is lowered to the floor for a very special acrobatic performance.
As our tour guide led us around the backstage area we learned the kitchen prepares over 600 meals a day. And, with the horses being the featured attraction, a 20-person team including trainers, veterinarian, health technicians, groomers and a farrier are on hand insuring they receive the best possible care. The horses are provided 8 meals a day: five with hay and three with grain. (Please don’t tell my horses).
It takes over 100 vehicles to move the venue from city to city. During that time the horses are on “vacation”. On the day we walked through, 4 days before their opening performance, they had just returned for 10 days of R & R on a ranch in San Diego.
A few days later we returned to see a truncated version of the show two days before it opened. The acrobats were stunning. The music is live and the show starts off very face-paced. Horses are introduced and the stage is transformed into a wonderful country side. The riding feats were spectacular and the horses performed jumping and synchronized routines that are difficult to describe.
At one point in the show the stage goes dark. As the lights come up nine horses come galloping in as one wild herd. A lone trainer, Elise Verdoncq, is spot lighted center stage. As if by magic the horses are drawn to her. With nothing in her hands – no whip, no crop – she guides the horses through a truly beautiful routine. My favorite happened while she had the horses trotting in a 60′ circle around her. On her signal the horses stopped, did a complete 360 and continued, All the turns were spot on the the horses did their job incredibly.
Cavalia Odysseo run from February 3, for at least a month. If you love horses and you want to see an excellent show check out the Odysseo website for tickets.