From stunning Arabians to elegant Paints; there were so many different breeds of horses we discovered during such a short period of time! On Thursday March 26, 2015, we had the opportunity to go to an exclusive “Behind the scenes” event with other medias professionals. We even got to take a day off from school! This preview took place at Odysseo White Big Top at the Port Lands in Toronto.
Under the Big White Top
First, we were shown the huge stage. There were many trees in the background, and the ground was made up of 10 tons of dirt and sand! We got to climb up the stage and see what it was like to be in the show!
After that, we even got to explore the backstage! We walked through a tunnel to get to the backstage and the stable. At backstage, we saw an arena where horses could run around freely with the help of a trainer. These horses were referred to as Liberty Horses. Four talented liberty horses were brought to the arena; Gus, Silver, Frosty and Nesma. Elise Verdoncq, a horse whisperer, started off by showing us some of the four-legged stars’ basic tricks, such as lying down or bowing.
As part of the media, we were able to interview some trainers. First, we walked into the stables. We went from interviewing experienced horse trainers to fashionable groomers. Emma even got to interview a horse! Some of the main trainers that we interviewed were Amanda Orlowski and Elise Verdoncq. They both taught us that the magic behind being a horse trainer is to be patient, to have mutual respect, and to trust. Simply, it takes time!
“When we work with the horses, we ask them to work with us,” explains rider and trainer Orlowski, “we don’t demand, we ask them to do things they’re going to enjoy to do.”
The Cavalia horse trainers also taught us about the Liberty horses and how they trained them. Cavalia trainers spend a lot of time with these horses, teaching them to listen to their body language and to their voice. Each Liberty horse remembers their position in a line. If they change their order by accident, the trainer easily leads the horse back to its proper spot. Liberty horses are actually trained one by one, then put together into groups all the way up to twelve.
“When they [horses] can do everything by themselves, I start to put two horses, then three horses,” says rider Verdoncq, "I am now up to 12 [horses]."
The Start of the Show
On April 8, 2015, we went to see the actual show from 8pm to 10pm. We arrived at the same Big Top. The inside looked totally different from last time we visited, because it was decorated with paintings and souvenirs which you could buy. The show started with quizzes up on a big screen, testing people's knowledge about the horses and trainers. Audience participated and cheered when they got the answers correctly. When the lights dimmed, the audience became silent. The show started off with horses walking across the stage. Soon, the whole stage was filled with horses, trotting around the stage, some with riders riding on them. After a couple minutes, the stage was full of excitement. The horses started running wildly. That was the start of 2015’s Cavalia.
There were many acts in this show. However, some of our favorite acts were the Liberty act, Acrobatic acts, Carousel act and the Finale act.
The Liberty horses moved around without riders on top of them, but instead with trainers telling them where to go. They sometimes stood in a line, turning around the stage, and sometimes ran around with the guidance of their trainer.
The aerialists did multiple acrobatic tricks and flips that made the audience go "ooh" and "ahh". We even heard some low whistles! Some of these aerialists had "jumpy shoes", which were actually called Skyrunners. They had those on display at the souvenir shop too! The Skyrunners made them jump super high, and it sure looked fun to wear! There were even high bars which all the aerialists had to jump or flip over, in addition to the running horses that they had to avoid.
The ring act was only one of the acts that left the audience amazed. Descending from the top of the stage, was a slowly spinning carousel. The 18 ton merry-go-around, which took the staff 12 hours to assemble, featured acrobats swinging around the plastic horses that were rising up and down.
The Finale act was no doubt, an extraordinary ending! It started off with a single horse at the very top of the mountain, with the lights dimmed, so you could only see a mysterious silhouette of a rider on a horse.
End of the Night
When the show ended, everyone was amazed of what they had seen. We didn't want to leave! Odysseo was an amazing experience for us, and we would definitely like to come back someday!