Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday -- The Gala of the Royal Horses

Early last month, we had an event come to my work. This time, it wasn't a music artist I'd never heard of or a sporting event I'm not interested in. Instead, it was a horse event!
 
Called The Gala of the Royal Horses, the show is loosely based on dressage, with a big dose of Spanish flair. Besides traditional dressage riding demonstrations, there were Spanish themed performances, and a couple of Lipizzans performed the famed "Airs Above Ground."
 
Parts of the show were certainly cheesy to actual equestrians, but the crowd loved it. In a talk with one of the riders prior to the show, he remarked, "Things are different in the performance than they would be in a show or training session. Sometimes I'll get bitten or kicked, or the horse will misbehave. I can't correct him, just grit my teeth and smile."
 
There were certainly moments where the horses misbehaved, and I enjoyed watching the trainer's face during those moments. While he had a smile on his face, you could tell he was bothered. How difficult!
 
Overall, it was a fun night. A big group of my riding friends from the area attended, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. My job for the night was to take photos for our in-house archives. So, enjoy my shots!
Here the trainer was demonstrating teaching the piaffe. They used 3 horses in various stages of learning the move.
At the end of a fancy Spanish-themed performance during which this horse carted around a girl with a big skirt draped over his butt, the rider turned the horse to leave the ring. The horse either spooked, or the rider spurred him unintentionally, because he bolted for the out-gate. It was a little dicey there for a second, and I caught this shot just before the group passed beyond the curtain. I'm not positive that girl didn't hit the concrete on the other side.
A couple of young Lipizzans doing liberty work.
The main trainer did a dressage demonstration with this Andalusian. It appeared to be mostly Third Level. The horse kept flubbing his lead changes, which really seemed to be starting to annoy the rider. Whoops! Like most of the show, this section made liberal use of the Spanish Walk. Does anyone else think the Spanish Walk looks silly?

Whatever this horse's failings at lead changes, he was a piaffe machine! Also, get a load of that TAIL! So lovely!
The start of the Airs. Here a Lipizzan demonstrates some Levade. Of course, I managed to catch a moment where he was hopping around... oops.


I have no idea what this movement is called, so I'll just call it "The Flail." The horse would rear as high as he could, then strike out with his forelegs.

See ... lots of flailing about.

The famous Capriole! These guys went SUPER high into the air to perform this. Much higher than I've seen previously. It was almost impossible to capture on film, though.

I was told this horse was originally selected as a prospect for the Spanish WEG team, but ended up not being able to mentally handle the training and was replaced by Fuego. I have no idea if that's true, but he was a really quality mover, especially when you consider he is an Andalusian. Here he is gearing up for a bit of extended trot.

Here's another shot of the fancy Andalusian. He was my overall favorite. Just a gorgeous mover!
In case you were wondering, yes all of these horses were wearing body glitter. Whaaaat?! I know!! Is body glitter USEF legal? If so, I need to get Pig decked out!



15 comments:

  1. I'm always happy to watch performances like this! But then I see every mistake so that takes a fraction of the fun out of it... I saw a Medieval Times show twice... the first time around was in California and the dressage looked nice... the next was in Georgia and I actually wrote to the company to complain about the dressage. The rider was an awful floppy bouncing one, and mostly just cranked the horse's head in and spent a lot of time leg yielding. Spanish walk is pretty much useless, but I'm still trying to teach it to Mikey. When I was working on just more shoulder action, I was able to make his walk a bit better (he normally gets 7s and I got some 8s), and his extended trot. Some judges have written "more grandeur" for his extended trot, and I found that by teaching him to reach in the walk, I applied the same cues and I got a much more expressive extended trot and was rewarded for it. I know you said Pig has trouble with it too, you might want to look into it! I'd be happy to tell you how I started it. For our purposes, it's not hard and there's no in hand tapping legs.

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    1. I've heard of people using the Spanish walk for things like that, and if it doesn't involve tapping the legs (leg tapping makes Pig a very angry boy, I can't WAIT to start working on half steps with him -- not) we're in!

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  2. I love watching horse events; I just squint when something isn't right. The average person doesn't know the difference, and without these kinds of events, most people would never get a chance to see live horses doing what they do best - epitomizing beauty. Filled with mistakes, or done flawlessly, I'm always appreciative of a live show. :0)

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    1. For sure! I described the audience here as "a bunch of bored looking dads and enthralled little girls." It was so fun to see people who otherwise never see live horses fall in love with the show!

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  3. These guys were about by us a few weeks ago and I'm really bummed I missed it. Looks like it was a fun show!

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    1. It was super fun! The horses were well taken care of, and super friendly, too. That's always something I worry about with traveling shows. Apparently they are going to try to make a second tour next year. Keep your eyes open!

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  4. Your photos are lovely! I went to one of these performances a long time ago, but would like to go to another one.

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    1. Thanks! The lighting conditions made shooting this show almost impossible. I don't have a big array of lenses to choose from, so I had to dig out my 50mm 1.8f to try to capture what I could. I love that lens, except that it doesn't autofocus!

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  5. this is so cool - would love to go to a show like that. great pics :)

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    1. Thanks! It was fun to go to a show I was pretty interested in, rather than a concert ;)

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  6. Fab photos! Is the first photo a Friesian or FriesianX?

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    1. Yep! A friesian! They had three Friesians in the program, though most of them didn't seem to have the same level of training as the Andalusians. This one was working on learning piaffe.

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