Friday, 1 January 2010

Pantomime on Horseback

My boys and I have just had a very busy week, as we were taking part in The Devil's Horsemen Christmas Pantomime. Tinker, Casper and I set off on Boxing day morning for their Buckinghamshire base, and were thrown straight into rehearsals. We rehearsed all the acts and all the horses all afternoon, but before we knew it it was 6pm and the doors were opening for people arriving for the first show!

For the past two years we have done Cinderella on Horseback, but this year we had an all new show - Christmas in Fantasia. The basic story was Father Christmas being kidnapped at the beginning, and his two elves (Cam and Karina complete with bells on their costumes!) travelling through various different panto lands to rescue him. This meant we all had lots and lots of costume changes as the acts we had included Dickens, The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, Snow White, Cinderella and Harry Potter - all complemented by fairy godmothers, wicked stepmothers and of course the ugly sisters! Phew!

For my part I had a vaulting act on Tinker as part of the Wizard of Oz section. We did a walk section and then quite a long canter section, where I pieced together both my normal show freestyles into one - I was certainly out of breath by the end! Tinker was absolutely fabulous, and didn't let me down once. Although he'd never been in the shed before he took to it really well and wasn't at all phased by the proximity of the audience - he is a proper professional! He did get quite tired towards the end of the run, but after seven shows plus initial rehearsals all in four days I can't say I blamed him! He's back out in the field now seeing 2010 in with a well earned rest- and mud bath! As well as our vaulting act Tinker and I also performed a dance during the Cinderella act. This went down really well, and as per usual after his performance I got asked plenty of times how I train him. The answer is basically bribery, although there is slightly more to it than that!

Seeing as how I'd bought Casper along for the ride (he's still not at the stage where I can do a complete vaulting act on him - much to Tinker's disgust!), I'd decided that the least he could do was some dancing to ease Tinker's load. I'd been working him in the shed to get him used to the surroundings every day, and he'd been going really well - he was really settled in there and didn't seem too bothered by anything that was going on. So, on Monday I decided it was time to put him to the test. The afternoon show had about one hundred and sixty people booked, and Casper was ready to make his debut! I'd already worked and danced him in the shed in the morning, which had gone really well - he'd danced a perfect dance and performed his catch four times in a row without mishap, even with people bustling about and providing possible distractions. So.... showtime!!

As we were backstage waiting for our turn to go on Casper was quite jumpy, the atmosphere of a show is very different to that of a practice, and one that you simply cannot create. However, he settled down far quicker than I was expecting and really concentrated on me for a few warm up tricks - including another perfect catch! Next the curtain came back and we were out in front of the 160 strong audience! Bless Casper, his eyes went out on stalks, his head went up in the air and all thoughts of concentration went completely out of his head! I managed to get him into the middle of the arena, stop, and get his concentration for a kiss. However, as soon as we did this the audience clapped, which completely threw him and he just spun around me. I then got him back and he managed a leg cross each way, but then more applause, more spinning and less concentration! We carried on like this for the duration - concentrate, trick, applause, panic - for the entire dance - if you could call it that! Despite this I was really pleased with him. In the end he did manage a nice kiss, leg crosses both ways, spanish walk in two directions, and finished with a lovely bow - you just had to pick the tricks out from all the messing around in between! Although his repertoire is far far wider, the fact that he managed to concentrate enough to do anything is quite an achievement for him - he is far higher strung than Tinker and I always knew he'd be harder to focus. Hopefully when he's in an outdoor arena the atmosphere will be less intense and he'll be more able to concentrate - he'd better because he WILL be in the shows this year, whether he likes it or not!

The other acts I took part in were the opening Dickensian street scene (complete with a milk yoke!); Snow White, where I was fed a poisoned apple before waking up to dance with Dan and Dante; the ridden Can-Can as Cinderella, and; the comedy vaulting on the gorgeous Percheron Daffodil, also as Cinders. We also had ridden pas-de-quatres, a roman riding race, carriages, Laura's impressive hoop act, Caesar the donkey, Gerard and his black horse, smokey joe and of course trick riding. The two hour show was definitely full of action! Although I've not managed to get any pictures yet, people have been posting videos up on YouTube, a couple of which you can see below - have a little watch to see what we got up to!

Becca and I have an exciting day tomorrow - we're trying to start a little vaulting group at a nearby village's riding school. Becca did a taster day back in December, but it's the first official session tomorrow, so I promise to take lots of photos and tell you all about it next week!

Lastly, a very happy new year from all of us at Jive Pony, and we look forward to seeing you at a show in 2010!

Love Rosie xx


Helen said...

Hello Rosie,

The pantomime was fabulous and even better than the banquets, we all thought, which we weren't expecting.

One of my party used to be an army stunt rider and he occasionally works for Steve Dent, and he has seen and done everything in his time, and he always tells it as he sees it and is very hard to impress but he loved it too, so it must have been really, really good!

All the very best for 2010,

Lots of love,


Rosie said...

Well thankyou!

It was a really good fun week, and so much better for me than previous years as I got to involve both Tinker and Casper. Onwards and upwards for 2010!


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