How does the four-legged cast of Odysseo spend its downtime? Frolicking about and rolling in poo just like normal horses, of course. Samantha Clark gets the scoop. From Samantha:
A last minute invitation to the beautiful Fares Farm on Friday morning turned into something completely unexpected and spectacular, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you in a small way. Managed by Shannon White and nestled slap bang in blue-blood Bluegrass between Keeneland and Calumet Farm , I would have been happy to generally just wander around the farm that bred and foaled Curlin in a contented daze, admiring the scenery, and the mares and foals – what’s not to like?! – but this little haven of perfect peace is now a temporary five star sanctuary for the equine stars of Odysseo as they take a break between shows in Miami and Toronto.
Photo by D.Lee
I haven’t seen Odysseo, yet (!) but my very generous host D. has and raved about it, at length(!) and it’s pretty high on my list after Friday, and close to the top of my daughter’s after checking out the Cavalia website. In a nutshell, it’s an equine version of Cirque du Soleil, but even better. We found Marco to ask him some questions about what it takes to manage all these horses, both while they’re on holiday, and on stage. We stood in a stall with Frosty, a very friendly 3 year old who was rather inquisitive – the rustling you can hear is him trying to eat my puffa jacket!
Frosty – very friendly!
There is a vet tech on the team who stays with the horses at all times, and Marco told us he works closely with him, the grooms, and the stage and barn manager daily to ensure the well-being of each and every horse. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I was incredibly impressed by the combination of super-efficiency, the logistics, the sheer scope of everything, and yet also the down-to-earth, good old-fashioned horsemanship.
It’s obvious that the guys we spoke to love all the horses as individuals and take wonderful care of them; they have an easy, happy, comfortable manner around them, even if perhaps Marco demonstrating his prowess by crawling under Frosty’s tummy wouldn’t be wholly Pony Club approved! There’s a gentle respect though, and there definitely seemed to be an understanding who the real stars of the show are! The beds were high and fluffy with new, white shavings; the energy in both barns was relaxed and quiet, but still with a holiday vibe.
The horses only arrived here recently and so are still being restricted in their time grazing all this rich, lush grass, but you can see how much they’re enjoying being allowed to get dirty and do nothing!
Marco and the rest of the staff are also enjoying Kentucky, and he told me he was planning on going out to Keeneland for the first time. When the show is on, it runs seven days a week, but with horses going in and out of rotation as needed. Marco explained that he’ll probably watch two shows in a row then take every third night off so he can come back again with ‘fresh eyes’. He’ll take notes the first night, talk to the cast the next day, and then watch to make sure things are done correctly on the second night. Although he told me he has taken riding lessons, and acrobatics, he is already incredibly busy and fulfilled in his current position. Although it’s hard to measure a demographic for this kind of show, when I asked Marco if he thought horse people or non-horse people enjoyed it more, or with which group it was more popular, he answered that it appeals widely to “horse-lovers”. D, who falls in the horse expert category, agreed that she, of course, thought it was amazing, and appreciated the more difficult things the horses did in the performance – advanced dressage moves as well as the training required for the general performance, where as Marco said that those completely ignorant about horses could still enjoy the spectacle and the beauty, and the bond between the horse and it’s partner.
Many, many thanks to D. Lee for the fabulous invitation – it truly was a magical morning, and of course to Shannon White at Fares Farm, such a splendid facility, but especially to the wonderful, white horses of Odysseo, and to Marco and all the guys who look after them. Enjoy your Bluegrass Vacation, come back again soon, and Go Eventing?!