//The horse in the circus
Pieric - Joseph Bouglione

The horse in the circus

Most of us know the multiple uses that have been given to the horse throughout the history of the human being. This has been changing over the years because the horse has been incorporated into the various activities of the performing arts. This is how the role of the horse in the circus becomes relevant depending on the shows in which it participates.

The horse takes a leading role in many circuses because it is presented in various choreographies that highlight the steps of the horses. The dance of the horses is a true feat of these intelligent animals.

On the other hand, one of the characteristics of everyday circuses is the circular or oval shaped tracks in which the presentations of these are carried out.

Circuses exist since ancient times and one of the innovators in this area is Philip Astley. Therefore we will know a little more about Philip Astley

Budapest circus - horse show

The horse in the circus and Philip Astley

Philip Astley
Philip Astley

Philip Astley was a military, rider and acrobat from the United Kingdom. His military carreer put him in contact with horses. Military training allow him develop many skills in the art of riding.

So this person came up with the brilliant idea that the shape of the circus was circular to facilitate presentations with horses. These took place in the spaces of the Astley Amphitheater specifically in the second cycle of the 18th century.

After his career in the military world and close experience with horses, he came up with the idea of riding a number with horses. This project was carried out with the support of his spouse.

One of the most outstanding shows produced by Philip Astley is where he stands on a horse while he jogs. So there he discovered that galloping in a closed circle the concentric force stopped him from falling and allowed him to perform extraordinary feats in the circus.

The use of the concentric force facilitated the balance for performing the stunts while maintaining spectacularity and safety. This kind of feats that is now common in circuses should be thanked to Philip Astley.

This is one of the examples of the role of the horse in the circus and little by little this has evolved.

Who was Philip Astley?

Shows designed for the horse in the circus

As we have already mentioned, the role of the horse in the circus is reduced to the shows in which this animal participates. Therefore, one of the most popular numbers in the field of circuses is the riders’ turns on horses.

The horses made a considerable amount of laps on the track, nodding their athletic riders. They also held hands creating equine rows of unique beauty. The evolutionary shows and the choreographies of the High Spanish Riding School of Vienna were developed in their tour of various countries.

” That one who has more Circus nights under his belt is the one who first enters the Kingdom of Heaven.” Alfredo Marqueríe

Undoubtedly, people who have lived experience in high-class circles have witnessed a great show. Those who have witnessed shows with various animals will not have lived in vain. For the vast majority these shows are a very rewarding experience.

Likewise, those who have executed can take their life mission for granted or at least this is what the aforementioned Alfredo Marquierie quote conveys.

Horse in the circus
Horse in the circus

French company Ô Cirque

The French company Ô Cirque has the presentation “Le vent était de la triche”. This event is an equestrian cabaret where they show the pirouettes on horseback, the fixed trapeze and the clown fit with the chanson and the rock.

Ô Cirque is characterized by being an equestrian circus, this is close to the idea that Philip Astley instituted. The company Ô Cirque is made up of Gilles Audejean, a frequent and rigorous tamer, with the body carved by the union with the horses. Also part of this team is Christophe Sigognault, clown and theatermacher.

One of the curiosities of the circular shapes of the circuses was established by the horse in order to make the trot more fluid. In this way it also facilitated standing up and gymnastics. So the company Ô Cirque refers to what at the time the visionary and innovator Philip Astley raised.

We can see how this is one of the circuses that are dedicated to presenting equestrian events. There they show the charm and skills of the horse as well as the riders who drive them. In short, a magical combination that delights spectators and horse lovers.

The French company Ô Cirque looks forward to presenting its equine spectacle of great excellence that delights attendees. In this space the role of the horse in the circus is shown, as it is its main attraction.

Ô Cirque Danse Equestre réal: Fabien Luszezyszyn

You can to know more about them in them webpage http://www.ocirque.com/

Animal protection organizations against the use of horse in the circus

In most of the events and shows that animals use are the target of animal protection organizations. For no one is a secret that many times these animals are subjected to physical and psychological abuse. So they have sufficient reasons to be against this abominable practice.

Peta anti-ringling-circus protesters
Peta anti-ringling-circus protesters

Hence, in various countries it has been a constant struggle to eradicate these types of events with animals. In some countries they have even been banned for what is an advance not only for animal protection organizations but for humanity.

If these horses are tamed naturally, that is to say that they have not been mistreated they can be an exception. However, as far as wild animals are concerned, the dynamics change. They, by their nature, are subjected to psychological and physical abuse frecuently. These animals like tigers, lions, monkeys, elephants do not deserve to be there. Wild animals must be in their natural habitat.

The horse as a center of attraction for circus events

Pieric - Joseph Bouglione
Pieric – Joseph Bouglione

One of the attractions of the circus events was the horse. That is why horse-loving people focused their conversation topics based on these beautiful animals. So much so that they knew the smallest details in relation to their positive and not so positive characteristics of these.

One of the horses that stood out the most were the funals, and even the spectators had total admiration. The foals that walked outside and located on the right. That skill was important to prevent the car from tilting when turning and circling the goal.

In order for the event to have high standards of excellence, they made a rigorous selection of the horses. It is important a good selection of horses that were going to participate. Later for the fourth century, Vegecio cataloged the horses according to their specific utility, that is, for war, circus or saddle.

In this sense the best horse for the circus were the Cappadocians, Hispanic and African Sicilians.

Future of horse in the circus

Yasmine Smart Horse Rearing (2004)
Yasmine Smart Horse Rearing (2004)

Throughout mankind history and in most of the circuses that have emerged in the world horses have played an important role. In this sense, they were not only used as a means of transport but as protagonists of circus events.

This event has evolved over the years, as they have perfected the techniques in their presentations. So some equestrian circuses are famous because of the quality of their choreographies. Without a doubt, a sample of how intelligent horses are.

For circuses that work their shows with horses, it is advisable at the time of dressage to be as bearable as possible and even by an expert in equine ethology. This way it will be less traumatic for these sweet and sensitive animals.


https://gustavomirabalcastro.online/arte/el-rol-del-caballo-en-el-circo/ (Spanish version)






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