HORSES KEEPING AT CAVALLUNA

SEE HOW THE SHOW HORSES LIVE

Whether it's our shows like "Companions of Light", "Cinema of Dreams", "CAVALLUNA - World of Fantasy" or the current tour "CAVALLUNA - Land of a Thousand Dreams": Mostly, it's the horses themselves that move and inspire the audience. During their visit, however, many spectators have questions about the treatment of the animals behind the scenes and whether it's too stressful for them to be part of a show. 

Every day we receive many questions about how the horses are kept through our social media channels. We have collected some of the most frequently asked questions - and provided detailed answers. Before we start, we would like to mention one thing: the welfare of our animals is of the utmost importance to CAVALLUNA. These are not just words. It's a fact. After all, the horses are travelling with their owners/riders and they are part of each riding team's family.

light-coloured horses galloping on stage

CAVALLUNA'S COMMITMENT TO ANIMAL WELFARE

Are your horses kept in compliance with animal welfare regulations?

Animal welfare officials and independent veterinarians inspect all horses, stalls, transport vehicles and riding equipment in every single city on the tour. They pay attention to every detail and only when they are satisfied with their inspection can the show take place in the arena.

Horse looking out of the stable tent

REGULAR GRAZING

Do your horses spend all day in boxes?

Apart from the external inspection by the official veterinarians, CAVALLUNA itself does everything it can to ensure that the horses are well looked after. During the week, the horses are housed in so-called "in-between stables", where they have regular access to pasture and paddocks, as well as plenty of free time and relaxation. They always have the same "horse neighbours" and are always looked after by their keepers. The same applies to their accommodation in the mobile, heated stable tents that are set up at weekends: The size of the boxes in these tents meets the standards of any German stable, and double boxes are provided for larger animals such as the Shire Horses, so that each animal really does have enough space. As they are creatures of habit, care is also taken to ensure that the horses always have the same neighbours in the stables. Even in between shows, the riders take their animals out for a walk or a ride, depending on what is possible, so that even on show weekends, breaks for relaxation are guaranteed.
 

brown pony with a foal on a meadow

THE ANIMALS BELONG TO THE FAMILY

Who owns the horses?

The horses are owned by the riders or team leaders themselves. Most of the animals have been part of the teams and their families for many years, often trained from a young age by their owners, or in some cases even bred by them. During the tour, the riders are also the main contact for the horses, feeding them, cleaning their stalls, grooming them, preparing them for the show and training them together. Even on non-show days during the week, team members are always at the stables to ensure that their horses receive the best possible care. This is the only way to create the intimate relationship of trust between man and animal that such a show requires.

Luber on a meadow with a Haflinger horse

FORCE? NO CHANCE!

Horses are flight animals - isn't it cruel to put them in a show?

Most of the horses at CAVALLUNA are stallions. There are two reasons for this: There are two reasons for this: Firstly, stallions get on very well without mares and are ideal for socialising. Secondly, they have a natural desire to show themselves. These two requirements are used to select those animals whose nature and character are suitable for a show. No horse in the world can be forced against its will to perform in an aesthetic and carefree way. Not by beating it, depriving it of food or using other methods that are contrary to animal welfare. A person will never succeed in presenting a horse in free dressage or any other equestrian discipline if it is absolutely unwilling to cooperate.

So once you have found a horse that naturally likes to pose and is willing to learn, it is trained for years and prepared for the show situation. Through months of work, the animals are sensitively accustomed to colourful lights, music, applause and so on. Furthermore, every horseman gives the animals the opportunity to get used to the conditions of each new show location.

black horse running freely on stage

TRUST AND FRIENDSHIP AS A BASIS

Horses are flight animals. The horses in the Liberty dressage shows all have the opportunity to move away from their trainers unhindered, as they have no means of stopping them without ropes, halters or bridles. The same goes for the ridden horses: a 1.2 tonnes Shire Horse, for example, naturally has the strength and will to effectively resist its 50kg rider if it wants to escape the situation. It is a fact that the cooperation between animal and human being, as it is shown at CAVALLUNA, can only be based on trust and friendship, built up over many years, and nothing else.

Bartolo on stage with a black horse

THE BEST POSSIBLE CONDITIONS

Isn't the music too loud for the horses?

We have developed a sound system that provides the audience with a full sound, while allowing the horses in the ring to hear the music with no more than room volume. This is achieved by using convex loudspeakers directed away from the arena and towards the audience. A louder sound system in the arena is unthinkable and impossible because the artists communicate verbally with their animals. Applause is taught to the animals in training as positive feedback for their performance and is perceived as such in the show.

Icelandic horse on stage with a rider

SHORT DISTANCES, MANY STOPS

Don't the horses suffer during transport?

The horses are transported from the intermediate stables to the show venues in professionally equipped horse transporters that comply with all the standards of the Animal Welfare Act. The central location of the intermediate stables means that journeys are kept as short as possible, but also many stops are made depending on the length of the journey.

Rider Filipe sitting on a Friesian horse in the countryside

FORCE HAS THE OPPOSITE EFFECT

Do you ride or train your horses in hyperflexion?

Firstly, a precise explanation of what is meant by the term "roll": hyperflexion of the horse's neck is used as a training method in some equestrian disciplines, but is frowned upon in classical riding. Critics believe that pulling the horse's head down towards the chest with the reins leads to an unnatural and unhealthy posture of the horse's entire body, causing long-term damage to the spine, tendons, etc. This has not been scientifically proven. There is no explicit scientific proof of this, but it should not be dismissed out of hand. Another term for rolling / hyperflexion is Low-Deep-Round (LDR for short), although some professionals believe that these are different methods. We at CAVALLUNA do not share this opinion, because forcing a horse into an unnatural position, even if only for a few minutes, weakens the relationship between horse and rider, and is also not nice to look at.

 

Man and white horse with a snaffle

ANIMAL WELFARE AND TRAINING

For these reasons, none of the CAVALLUNA riders use this method! Horses are trained for years, which is not only time consuming but also expensive. It would not help anyone to deliberately damage their horse and make it "unridable". Another case is when a horse "rolls up" on its own and tries to avoid the aids. This happens to every rider from time to time and is by no means intentional at the moment. However, when this happens, every rider will try to actively work against this incorrect position and get the horse back upright. There are also breeds which, because of their conformation (high set, short neck, etc.), tend to be "too tight". Here too, special attention must be paid to correct contact. For these reasons, it is wrong and unfair to the riders to generalise any snapshots and deduce that unprofessional training methods are being used. Rest assured that it is in the interest of the riders and in the interest of CAVALLUNA that our animals are trained and kept in a species-appropriate manner. Nothing is further from our minds than any harm to our horses.

World of Fantasy Friesian horse rider on stage

How can I see how the horses are kept?

For maximum transparency, before and after each performance, interested visitors can take a guided tour of the stables and see for themselves how the animals are kept, both in the stable tents and in the backstage area.

 

To the stable tours
People at the horse stable