October 2016 - Celebrity Treatment

Odysseo stars enjoy luxurious vacations before their current engagement in San Jose.

by Nan Meek

Back to work after a 10-day vacation: No more lazy days playing in the country, hanging out with friends, soaking up the sunshine. Who enjoys going back to work?

Actually, the equine stars of Odysseo, that’s who.

Arabians on vacation. Photo: ©2016 Jak Wonderly Photography

After a 10-day to two-week vacation at a luxurious farm following the close of each production, the horses return to a workplace that resembles a five-star resort, with daily spa treatments, an array of bedding options, customized farm-to-table meals and exercise programs designed to enhance body, mind and spirit. And public adulation – lots of adulation.

Now enchanting audiences under the White Big Top in San Jose, off Highway 87 at Julian Street, Odysseo marries equestrian and stage arts with high-tech theatrical effects to illuminate the heart-touching bond between humans and horses as they journey through a world of dreams.

Double the size of the company’s show Cavalia that enjoyed a sold-out engagement in San Jose four years ago, Odysseo is the world’s largest touring show with 65 horses and 48 riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians performing under the world’s largest travelling tent.

When Odysseo’s equine stars return from vacation, shiny horse vans pull up to the White Big Top and one by one, these elegant equines strut or sashay down the ramp according to their personalities. With 65 horses, you expect some variety.

Shower time. Photo: ©2016 Jak Wonderly Photography

“Each horse has its own personality and its own skills, just like us,” points out Claire Beer, who rides in the dressage haute école and Roman riding acts, as well as performing as an aerialist. Like the other Odysseo riders, she is assigned two or three horses to work with exclusively.

For Claire, that includes Fabuloso, an aptly-named Spanish purebred stallion with a knee-length mane and beautiful movement who performs dressage, Roman riding and liberty, and Bud, a “very matter-of-fact” American Quarter Horse who does Roman riding, trick riding and liberty.

“When they come back from vacation, it’s kind of like coming back to your best friend. You could not talk for however long and then when you’re back together you just get in the swing of things again. It’s really enjoyable for all of us to have a little bit of time and just relax, then it’s really great to see each other again.”

At Odysseo, friends do more than just work together; they hang out together in their stables and paddocks on the show sites and in their pastures on vacation.

Claire explains, “They’re so smart, they’re just like us. If you are at work for too long you can get frustrated easily. They come back from vacation and they’re chill and ready to play with us, in front of audiences. They are very well traveled as you can imagined, so it’s not that big of an adjustment for them to go from the show to vacation and back.”

Odysseo changes performance locations every few months, and the horses always get a 10-day to two-week vacation between show sites before beginning rehearsals for their next audience.

The Travellers, Claire Beer, Fabuloso. Photo: Mandi Noble

“I think it’s good to have a little mix of both – let them go on vacation and let them come back. They love to have a job,” Claire remarks. “Horses are animals that like to work; they like to accomplish things, like we do. They love it both ways.”

When the horses start working again after they’ve been on vacation, in the beginning it’s very easy, very light work.

“We do a lot of walking and long trotting, getting them used to using different muscles. It’s not been so long, and they’ve been galloping in the pastures, so they’re usually pretty fine, but we just want to always be careful.”
Part of that care is protecting their legs. During work, any time the horses go out they wear splint boots and sometimes bell boots, whatever they need depending on their stride. On vacation, they generally don’t wear boots unless they have a really long stride behind; then they wear bell boots.

Clair explains that their different horses have different training programs. “We start to do some stretching classes with them, then we start to ride with them or do liberty work with them, then we do our rehearsals for the show and then we open on opening night!”

Together again, horses and riders return to the immense stage of Odysseo, to once again share the timeless relationship between human and horse, taking their audience on a journey that transcends time and place.
Tickets for San Jose are on sale now for performances running through October, as are tickets for Irvine, which opens Nov. 16 and runs through the holidays. VIP tickets for both locations entitle holders to visit the stables as the horses return to their stalls and a late night meal. These and other tickets can be purchased online at www.cavalia.net or by calling 1-866-999-8111.

Article provided by Cavalia.