[A horse is a horse, of course, of course... unless it is part of Cavalia, a breathtaking spectacle of equestrian arts performed under a 100-foot-high big top. Often called the "Cirque du Soliel of horses," this lavish multimedia spectacle was founded by one of Cirque's founders, Normand Latourelle, yet the unique combination of horse and human feats makes this show unlike any other. Fifty horses comprise the animal team, who perform with graceful human counterparts in dressage, trick riding, flying sequences, ball balancing , bungee jumping and intricate, ballet-like choreography. What really takes your breath away --- aside from musical score, lighting and sounds effects, costumes and setting --- is the human-equestrian connection. If you never cared for horses before, this will certainly change your mind.] excerpt via LAWeekly
"If you've been fortunate enough to attend this display of freeform horsemanship, you'll second this glowing review: The horses thunder around and across the stage, they line dance their brand of dressage as well as the Lipizzaners do, and they display their near-immaculate moves with hands-free commands. All this with an impressive 1:1 ratio of stallions to geldings. (no mares to fight over.)
Best of all, the 60-plus horses travel in luxury, are attended to with the same precision that obviously attends their training, and generally get treated like family.
But that hasn't kept some of the more off-center animal rightists from offering their opinion on the subject. Some apparently hold that it's disrespectful to force animals to perform. How do I know?
Below is a Q I received via email last week. Following it, I've printed the answer I included in last weekend's Miami Herald article on the subject. Enjoy and feel free to offer your opinions in the comments section...
Q: Could you spend some time explaining that people should not spend their money on circuses? I’m sick of seeing the animals treated so poorly at these venues. I used to think Cirque de Soleil had it right until this Cavalia thing. Please tell people not to support the inhumane treatment of animals at shows like this.
A: Agreed. From a veterinarian’s point of view, I would hasten to support your contention that a wild animal’s welfare is not best served in a circus setting. Even if these outfits treated animals in the most humane manner possible, the less-than-serene atmosphere of a circus environment, along with its typical transience, is not suited to animals whose natures are not conducive to excitement and whose basic health is undermined each time they travel. Moreover, I believe it humiliates wild animals to force them into this kind of human servitude. It’s disrespectful. And let’s not forget that circuses offer the wrong impression when it comes to teaching children that wild animals should be respected and protected. Though it may entertain them, it can’t possibly do kids any good to see wild animals treated as nothing more than objects of amusement. Was that what you wanted me to write? It wasn’t hard. I buy all these arguments and more. Though I consider myself a moderate animal welfarist, you might actually count me on PETA’s side of things on the subject of wild animal shows as part of circuses.
But here’s the catch: You won’t catch me dissing Cavalia in the process. Though I haven’t yet attended the horse-themed, circus-like spectacle my intrepid veterinary sources inform me that the treatment of these horses is beyond compare. It’s also my take that the recruitment of horses for shows such as Cavalia’s cannot compare to the use of wild animals (such as elephants and tigers) in circuses. Horses have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years and, as such, their longstanding relationship to humans as both workers and companions means they train well, travel well, bond with humans and––in most cases––clearly enjoy their work.Though the most militant animal rights groups may disagree with me (and so might you), I’ve got no beef with Cavalia. The horses are pampered and out of harm’s way. What’s more, the show is all about the bond we share with our fellow animals. Can’t argue with that, either.
Cavalia Live in Burbank every week Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from Wed., January 19 until Sun., February 6