Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Majestic horses take center stage in 'Odysseo'

Eight different breeds are used in a $30 million production under the Big Top in South Waterfront

SUBMITTED PHOTOS: DEE DEE MURRAY - Before opening in Portland on July 7, the four-legged stars of 'Odysseo' relaxed on a farm in Ridgefield, Wash. Actors spend countless hours preparing for the opening of a new play and musicians rehearse day after day for their big gig, but how do horses prepare for a grand performance?

“Odysseo” by Cavalia, which opens July 7 in Portland under the white Big Top in South Waterfront’s Zidell Yards, marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects in a $30 million extravaganza. But it’s the 65 majestic horses that are the stars of the production, which runs through July 24.

Marc-Olivier Leprohon, Cavalia’s artistic and equestrian operations director, says that before moving to their tented stable at Zidell Yards, the horses were transported from Salt Lake City, where they performed last, to a farm in Ridgefield, Wash. Leprohon says a convoy of horse trailers, with eight horses in each, drove through the night to reduce stress for the horses.

The show includes nine different breeds of horses, including Appaloosa, Arabian, Holsteiner, Lusitano, Paint Horse, Percheron Hanoverian Cross, Quarter Horse, Selle Français and Spanish Pure Breed, all of which enjoyed a relaxing stay at the farm.

Leprohon says different breeds are used for different numbers in the show: Paint and Quarter horses are strong and stocky, making them better suited for trick riding; other horses are better jumpers. Arabians are good working in groups.

The horses get the utmost care from a team of riders, groomers and veterinarians, Leprohan says. Their diet is carefully monitored.

Different breeds are used for different routines in 'Odysseo,' utilizing the particular strengths and characterists of the horses. “We adjust their diet to keep them in shape,” Leprohon says. “We bring in their hay from Quebec; it’s a long trip, but it is what’s best for them.”

He says he “pays attention to what the horses tell him” and watches for signs of them being tired, overworked or bored.

“We change up the patterns (of the routines),” he says. “The horses can anticipate what the next steps are and get bored. It’s important to keep it fresh, so the horse and rider are communicating.”

Leprohon says the horses range in age from 6 to 14 years old, and the length of time they perform varies.

“The horses are colleagues with us on the show,” he says. “We work together, spend time together. It must feel right. We pay attention to what they are sensing.”

For those who saw Cavalia when it was last in Portland in 2012, Leprohon stresses that this is not the same show.

“This is a huge production,” Leprohon says. “I’ve been with Cavalia for nine years; the first four years were on the first show. This show I’ve been involved with since its inception — from drawings on a napkin to the completed $30 million production. It involves 60 artists and a staff of 120.”

Tickets range in price from $39.50-$119.50, or $139.50-$249.50 for Rendez-Vous VIP seating. Audience members can save up to 15 percent on certain ticket categories until July 7.

To purchase tickets and learn more, visit cavalia.net or call 1-866-999-8111.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Marc-Olivier Leprohon says the human members of the 'Odysseo' team consider the horses to be colleagues.