Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

Behind The Scenes Of ‘Cavalia’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Combine the word 'Cavalier' with 'Cheval' the French word for horse, and you`ve come up with 'Cavalia'. An inventive name for an innovative show.

'That fusion of aerial acrobatics and cirque style choreography around a horse,' says Artistic Co-Director and Choreographer Alain Gauthier.  'That, in and of itself, is an incredible achievement.'

It`s hard to describe the combined grace and athleticism of Cavalia.

There`s incredible visual effects, gifted musicians and moving scores and then...the horsemanship.

'You have to bribe them and win them over with love,' says trick rider Katie Cox.  'And carrots.'

I`m in the Emerald city to get a close up look at this galloping goliath.

St. Louis is the only stop in the Midwest before it makes its way to Europe.

'So the horses live in here most of the time to protect them from the weather,' says Cox describing a giant tented state of the art stable.  'So we can control the climate because we don't want them to be uncomfortable, too hot or too cold depending.  We are in Seattle.  It's not the warmest city.'

Meet Katie Cox and Liberty.

'He's a huge teddy bear,' says Cox handing me a carrot to feed Liberty.  'He's a Perchuron.  He's six years old and he's been in the show for about two years now.  Just let him bite it, there you go, when he doesn't have dinner in his mouth.  Good boy.'

Katie does trick riding on one of the 45 horses in the touring cavalcade.

'The more you do a certain thing the more you practice it, the easier it is,' says Cox.  For us we stand on a horse like you stand on the ground.'

So if you can lead a horse to water, what about a big top with acrobats?

'It's something that only the horses can allow and that's the magic of it,' says Gauthier.  'It takes eight months of training before these breeds are ready for the aerialists overhead.

Gauthier understands the amount of time that goes into prepping for the trapeze.  He was a high flying aerialist before transitioning to choreography and becoming the artistic co-director for Cavalia.

'Never will you see a human being flying over a horse and have a horse just being there in simplicity and being present and being humble and being what he is,' says Gauthier.

'You've heard the phrase it takes a village,' says Patrick Clark.  'Well that's exactly what this is.  There`s eight more tents just like this on their way to St. Louis.  It's going to take 150 people and almost 100 trucks.  This show, when it's on the road, is bigger than the Rolling Stones on tour.'

'The horses can see each other through their little windows and they can have what we call horse meetings,' says Cox describing the holding tent that includes enough stables to comfortably hold 45 horses.

Trainers treat them right.

After a workout its a cold shower for tired muscles or, a warm one before they`re off and running.

'So these horses get massages?' asks Patrick Clark.

'We have a chiropracter that's on tour with us at all times,' says Cox.  'So when he's not working on us we'll say, 'Well my horse was walking a little crooked.'  And he can actually align the horses and massage their muscles to relax them.  They're superstars.'

And when equine athletes, acrobats and musicians are well adjusted...it allows a beautiful symetry between man and horse.

'All right,' says Patrick Clark standing outside the Cavalia tent on a rainy evening.  'So that's going to wrap things up here in Seattle, where, it really does rain a lot.  I'm going to get a Starbucks.'