Cirque du Cheval

Why Cirque du Cheval? As a child growing up in the 1950s in Revelstoke, BC, I was always excited and amazed when the Barnham and Bailey three ring circus came to town. They used elephants to raise the big top in a field just down the street from our house. As kids, we got free tickets for doing a lot of the grunt work: hauling water for the animals, picking up garbage, and running errands. Naturally, I was drawn to the white stallions. I imagined myself wearing the top hat with the stallions prancing around me. Until I had a horse of my own, I always wanted to run away and join the circus.

Fast forward half a century. Another big top. Another Circus with Horses: Cavalia. Here, in a dream-like setting, horses played at liberty with their handler or danced in pas de deux or quadrille, had acrobats vaulting on and off them or flying beside them on bungies. Again my dream of performing arose. Again I wanted to run away and join the circus. Knowing that this was never going to happen, I decided to bring the circus home and create my own circus acts.

During my growing years I attended and participated in many horse shows. We would all bathe our horses and dress ourselves up, wanting to win the blue first-place ribbon. For some, it didn’t matter how it was done, but that ribbon had to be theirs. All you had to do was be the best of the rest in the ten minutes you were in front of the judge. Nothing else mattered. I always thought it unfair that the child whose parent bought them an expensive horse who could do the whole show without input from the rider would get first place. For me, I had a mare who came from an auction in Calgary. She was pretty, but very damaged. It took me years of kindness to overcome her years of abuse and turn her into a willing partner. For her to place in the top 6 of a class of 30 was a greater achievement to me than the child whose new horse brought home all the blue ribbons.

It wasn’t until I started my natural artistic horsemanship journey that I realized what was happening back then. And it still happens now. As soon as a horse show becomes a competition, the participants become predators. They have one thing in mind and all ethics disappear. Horses are whipped, kicked with spurs, yanked by the reins, and other gruesome torture like soring, rolkur, tail blocking, tongue tying, drugging, etc. goes on. There has to be a better way to bring performance to the spotlight showing how horses will give their all when they trust their human partners.

Cirque du Cheval will show the audience in our grand finale just this. The participants in the program will learn how to develop a relationship with their equine partner without the use of force, intimidation and punishment. Our willing partners will play on-line (with a lead rope), at liberty (with no attachments), freestyle (riding on a casual rein often without a bit or saddle) and do tricks.

The participants will learn to honour the abilities of their equine partners, bringing out the best of each. Some of the performances will be solo, some in pairs, some in groups. Age doesn’t matter, however I’ve put a minimum age of ten years old (there is no maximum age). Riding ability doesn’t matter. Some of us don’t want to ride, but dream of dancing with our equine partners. Punkin Patch Farm has two minis, and five bigger ponies and horses. You can join the program with your own horse as well.

Liberty, freedom, tricks, dancing with horses. The Cirque du Cheval program at Punkin Patch Farm brings your dream of horses to reality. Develop your relationship, natural artistic horsemanship skills, bring on your imagination, show your potential. Join the Cirque du Cheval performance team in its quest for producing a non-competitive horse show to remember.

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