Show Opens May 12, 2018

By Linda Hazelwood

When special guests come to stay at anyone’s house, there is usually much fluffing of beds and frenzy in the kitchen, along with extra vacuuming and dusting. Manitoba’s special guests this year are being treated no differently.

“Cavalia is coming back!” Word went out earlier this year, and Manitoba Horse Council received a flurry of emails and phone calls looking for tickets. But we didn’t know anything yet! We left calls with the company to find out more.

A veritable revolution in live performance, Cavalia Odysseo is a theatrical production that makes hearts race and dazzles spectators. Manitoba audiences will be transported on an epic journey once again by this breathtaking production featuring 70 magnificent horses and 50 talented riders, acrobats, dancers, and musicians. This spectacular celebration of horse and man, imagined by Normand Latourelle, one of the cofounders of Cirque du Soleil, is an absolute feast for the eyes that succeeds in delivering soulful and stunning performances. Cavalia Odysseo comprises a list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring big top, the biggest stage, the most beautiful visual effects, and the greatest number of horses at liberty. Since its Montreal world premiere in 2011, the Odysseo troupe has already mesmerized more than two million spectators in Canada, United States, and Mexico. 

Just the mention of Cavalia’s gleaming White Big Top tent event was enough to raise the heartbeat of horse lovers and aficionados alike. Their visit to Winnipeg three years ago had been an unqualified success, leading to packed houses every night and an eventual extension of their stay, wowing more than 100,000 spectators.

The next contact Cavalia had with Manitoba Horse Council was a little different. Did we know of a facility that could take the horses on their rest period between leaving Arizona and starting rehearsals in Winnipeg? We scratched our heads. Who had the last-minute space to slot in 70 horses for 10 days, with all the concurrent box stalls, turnout and security requirements, without sending current boarders out in the cold?

The idea germinated and grew… Manitoba Horse Council had the answer – our own equestrian facility at Birds Hill Provincial Park just outside Winnipeg. In late March the facility was slumbering under two or three feet of snow, and not destined to receive horses until the first shows in the middle of May. Could we do it? Yes, of course! 

Built for the Pan Am Games in the mid-1990s, our facility was the perfect place to receive these very special guests. After many phone calls and discussions, it was resolved. Cavalia’s advance crew would arrive late April to help volunteers from local horse clubs set up the rented panels, receive deliveries of local hay and feed, and decide which horses would go in each stall. As everyone knows, horses have their own special friends. With 70 horses including geldings and stallions, it’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to keep everyone happy.

At the time of writing, everything is in place for the performers’ arrival, and the marketing activities are going into full gear. By opening day on May 12, our special guests will have come and gone from the facility, and will be living in a spacious stable tent next to Cavalia’s Odysseo White Big Top at the corner of Sterling Lyon Parkway and Kenaston Boulevard in Winnipeg until June, wowing their audiences every night.

The board and staff of Manitoba Horse Council, Committee Chair, Facility Manager, volunteers from local horse clubs, and everyone else involved will be watching one of their performances, with the quiet satisfaction of having opened their house successfully to these very special guests.

For more information visit the Manitoba Horse Council website. 

For Cavalia information and tickets, visit the Cavalia website. 

For a three-minute glimpse at Cavalia, click HERE.

Photos are courtesy of Cavalia Odysseo.