Odysseo is a breathtaking equestrian production that showcases the relationship between man and horse.
Artistic Director Darren Charles explained that there are worlds of differences in the 60 different horses in the show and that the riders must appreciate the individuality of each animal.
“We have many different breeds,” he said. “Each horse has a different discipline. You'll have a quarter horse who is really fast and another that likes to run free.”
The relationship between the riders and horses is a very real connection.
“We pat them and tell them they've been a good boy,” trick rider Rebecca Ratte said. “Then after the show, they get their treats.”
One of Ratte’s mounts, 6-year-old Bubbs, is going on his second year in the show, and the rider is still developing that connection with the younger animal.
“Sometimes he gets a little spooky,” she said. “He's a little newer and doesn't know all of the cues. I'm taking more time to build trust with him.”
Each day, Ratte works on strengthening their relationship.
“We show up early in the morning in order to get the horses out. Relax them, stretch them, play with them and really build that connection you wind up seeing on stage,” she explained. “Because these are flight animals, they can sometimes get nervous or scared about things. So we have to make sure they understand that we are here to help them and protect them and let them know that everything on stage is fine.”
Ratte works with several horses in the show but said it takes a team to keep all 68 horses fit and healthy.
“We have a huge staff. Our staff starts anywhere around six or seven in the morning. They feed the horses and get them outside,” she said. “Then we have our night grooms who handle things that go on in the show. Get them washed, get them ready.”
Each year the horses eat 15,000 bales of hay, 70,000 pounds of grain and close to 2,000 carrots.
“All day long people are cleaning their stalls and walking them outside and bringing them back in,” Ratte said. “We have two vet techs that stay with us who are constantly updating on with what's going on with the horse and how he's feeling.”
When you're going for a spectacular performance, it all comes down to the time and dedication backstage.
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