Monday, 19 January 2009

The Horseman From The Snowy River , Jan 19.2009 ****

The Horseman From The Snowy River  
By Rene Gasser, Burnley Ova, from Jan 19, 2009, Touring 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

It’s not merely memories of my romantic, childhood fantasies about owning a pretty (expensive) horse that trigger my delight at The Horseman From the Snowy River. Rene Gasser’s tent shows make me gasp because they star the majestic, dancing Lippizaners and Friesians as well as other magnificent, intelligent and powerful horses.

It is the dexterity and athleticism of these beasts that makes the show irresistible. Our favourite from the previous show  (Il Caballo Blanco) is Pasha, the lean, elegant and passionate white Arab stallion that gallops and gambols in his solo opening act with horse whisperer, Gasser. Pasha’s flying gallop is testament to the myth that the Arabian was made by God from the wind.

The other equine cast includes the striking, muscular Lippizaners. These white stallions with regal bearing and a deeply arched neck were bred for the Arch-Duke Charles of Austro-Hungary in the 16th century and are a cross breed of the Andalusian and descendants of Roman chariot horses.

There is a duo of pretty, glossy, chocolate Friesians that share some Andalusian blood and have a luxuriant, long mane, forelock and tail. In their double act Michael Harrison rides them with one foot on each horse while Pasha and others gallop between the Friesians under his legs.

There are also some cute and quirky acts. Harrison and Gasser’s whip cracking act (the 10 metre whip seemed to crack mighty close to my nose); a Border Collie herding three sheep hilariously named Brittany, Paris and Trevor; Hercules, the gentle-giant Clydesdale, in a duo with a cute-as-a-button, miniature pony; and trick riding by Jamal and Sonia. The MC provides entertaining introductions, jokes, mime and juggling.

The show is captivating. Exceptional horse trainer, Gasser, leads a team of riders as he puts the steeds through their paces on the sand-filled arena. The audience sits on four sides of the purpose-built marquee. If you book the posh seats, you can eat delicious antipasto and visit the stables after the show. Ride on, Rene!

By Kate Herbert

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