If you can catch Odysseo on tour, jump at the chance. The show offers a magical combination of entertainment and horses that will capture the imagination of even your least horse-crazy friends. Plus, there’s eye candy for everyone: gorgeous horses, beautiful but not scantily-clad women, and hunky guys.
Call me shallow, but I really enjoyed watching Fabio work at liberty with the horses. He was an expert handler with a real rapport with the horses.
Then there’s the mind-boggling set. Choreographing an equine ballet inside a tent is no small feat. Of course we expect an arena of sorts, but when horses appear over a ridge and make their way downhill to the forefront of the arena, it’s a marvel of engineering and imagination. To further the illusion, the backdrop changes throughout the show from day to a star-studded night, woodland to savannah, and through the seasons from summer to winter.
For the less than equine enthused, when the horses aren’t stealing the show, aerial artists, acrobats, and dancers entertain and amuse, creating a visual wonderland. Live music, lighting effects, and stunning costumes add to the appeal.
Horses on a hill, Odysseo’s incredible, mind-boggling set
But what about the horses? For the equine obsessed, Odysseo is a box of chocolates to be savored. A herd of 49 geldings and stallions take turns sharing and stealing the stage, showing off their strengths and personalities at every turn. Likewise, the trainers exhibit admirable fitness, skill, and technique in every act. The rapport between horse and handler as they demonstrate jumping, vaulting, roman riding, dressage, and working at liberty, is captivating.
The horse/handler relationship was at its most entertaining in the liberty work. In my favorite act, the curtain opened to find horses sleeping on the hillside, each snuggled alongside a handler. The horses woke up, rolled, and began following their handlers on cue through a choreographed routine, unaided by bit, bridle, or halter.
Sleeping horses awoke and joined their handlers to perform at liberty – with varying degrees of cooperation
Throughout the act, new horses joined each handler, until horses were grouped in teams of three and four, gracefully moving at the walk, trot, and canter throughout the arena, winding in and out of one another in formation. The best of the riders/handlers elicited prompt responses and respect from their horses.
However, despite years of training, horses will be horses — with minds of their own. One handsome gelding left his group several times to go on walkabout in a harmless bout of naughtiness. My non-horsey husband loved the unpredictability of this. We watched with amusement as the outlier was deftly returned to his group, more than once, by skilled handlers.
Sitting in a tent in Portland, Oregon I thought of the hundreds of urban dwellers who were seeing horses with fresh eyes — cheering and applauding an animal that can be asked but not forced to comply with human handlers.
For me, Odysseo celebrates the spirit of the horse and the magic of the horse/human bond, making it accessible to those who may never before have recognized the power and grace of the equine athlete.
Spend an evening in Odyssey’s tent and take the opportunity be entertained and delighted.
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