Items

Forums
Ringling Brothers Circus Horses
 By Saferaphus   •   14th Apr 2017   •   710 views   •   0 comments


After over one hundred years in existence, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be giving its last performance this May. Circuses of this type originated about two hundred and fifty years ago. Wild animal acts were often the spotlight. But the horse had a huge influence on the circus. The word circus comes from the Latin word for circle. The creation of the first modern circus is attributed to a British cavalry officer named Philip Astley. And while he certainly wasnít the first to perform tricks on horseback, his performance in a forty-two-foot circle, where the audience could easily see the whole performance was something new. And the shape and size of a circus ring were influenced by the space necessary for an acrobatic rider to stand on the back of a galloping horse.

This was also a convenient way to display other acts such as jugglers, clowns, fire eaters, wild animal acts, and magicians. Most of these types of acts traveled and performed on their own, or gathered at various fairs and festivals. Circus troupes organized and performed in existing buildings, or venues were built for the display of equestrian acrobats, wild animal acts, and other entertainments. In the late 1700s, a circus was begun in Philadelphia, and this too was held in a building and it wasnít until the early 1800s that a promoter first held a circus inside of a huge tent. The idea caught on, both in Europe, Australia, and North America. These early circuses, held under a canvas Ďbig topí tent moved from place to place with their troupe, animals, and gear packed into horse-drawn wagons.

The excitement of a circus coming to town began with the arrival of these wagons. The circus parade of colorfully painted and elaborately carved wagons helped build excitement and provided a glimpse of the troupe and animals that would perform. Many of these wagons have been lost, but those still in existence are masterpieces, albeit often gaudy ones, of craftsmanship. Before railroads crisscrossed North America, teams of horses pulled these elaborate wagons and their cargo from town to town.



While the circus was performing, the draft horses that pulled the wagons would get a rest. Inside the circus rings, however, horses performed with acrobatic riders or exhibited tricks such as standing on barrels, mind read, count, fire guns, walk on their hind legs and retrieve items when asked. Women perched precariously on horseback as the horse galloped around the rings were popular acts as well. There is, of course, the image of the circus as somewhat seedy, and animal handlers were accused of cruel training practices. Ginger was put under horsesí tails so they would hold them prettily. Check reins held a horseís head firmly in place. Gums were poked with large needles or nails to make the horse Ďsmileí. Trip ropes, whips, and other gear was used to make horses appear to dance.

But, even in the 1800s, there were trick trainers that believed in humane training. Trainers like Rarey and his contemporary Dr. Sutherland promoted kind training practices and claimed to make the most difficult horse well mannered and happy to perform.

The traditional circus may be going by the wayside, but the circus horse still exists. Troupes like Cavalia still tour and perform in coliseums and under their own canvas tents. While they still may raise the ire of animal rights activists, the training methods and behaviors they performed are done with respect for the animal rather than coercion.
Horse News More In This Category:  Shows and Events      Horse News More From This Author:  Saferaphus
 More News by Saferaphus
Newfoundland Pony Near Extinction
16th Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
When one pictures the rugged scenery of Newfoundland and Labrador, ponies rarely make it into the picture. Salt cod, dense fogs, deep snows, rough water perhaps. But, in that beautiful but often times harsh environment, a hardy br ...
Types of Hobby Horses
12th Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
How many of us, dreaming of riding a real horse, rode a hobby horse instead? Hobby horses have evolved, perhaps not so profoundly as real horses. But clearly, from very early on, hobby horses have satisfied some sort of need to ho ...
Keeping and Using Stallions
10th Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
There are a lot of myths about stallions. Some people believe only men should handle stallions. Many think they are more majestic, noble and wild than mares and geldings. Most of us take for granted that you donít turn a stallion ...
Cannabis For Horses
9th Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
Marijuana legalization is a hot topic. Here in Canada, itís about to be legalized. It already is in several states and countries. Iím not going to comment about the pros and cons of legalization, or of its use in general. After re ...
What is That Cough
6th Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
In Eastern Canada, a contagious disease is quarantining stables and shutting down events. Streptococcus Equi, a bacterial infection better known as strangles, has even shut down the famous RCMP musical ride. Strangles presents its ...
Horse Trailer Accidents
3rd Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
Horse Trailer accidents really scare me. Iíve seen horses hung over the chest bars, cast upside down on the floors, stuck halfway out the human doors, hung up in tie ropes and I know of at least one that climbed out the side windo ...
The Economics of Horses
2nd Jun 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
A 2017 study of the horse industry by the American Horse Council found that the horse industry has a $50 billion impact on the overall economy in the United States. This did not take into account the spending of race and competiti ...
Unusual Things To Do On A Horse
30th May 2018   |   Shows and Events   |   Saferaphus
Cleaning stalls leaves your mind pretty free to wander. So lately, with a pitchfork in my hand, I wondered what else do people do on horseback besides just ride? ...
  View All News by Saferaphus
 
©2002 - 2018   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
390 Members Online 239,806 Registered Members 2,440 News Articles 10,066,104 Unique News Article Views 218,988,922 Website Views