Over holiday weekends, when my mother is here, we usually try to take in a show or do something “Big City”.  This can be tricky since my mother, who spends a good portion of her day feeding, caring, training and exercising her horse, likes to spend her holidays here also doing something horsey. Because…well…a day without horses is like a day without sunshine. Which is how we found ourselves at Cavalia, the newest spectacle under the Big Top. Conceived by the minds that brought you Cirque du Soleil, it’s very much like Cirque du Soleil. Only with horses. That means lots of acrobats and aerialists, vaguely Renaissance costumes, all accompanied by French/Celtic/New Agey music and vocals. Only this time, they mix in 52 horses. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic.

But it did get me thinking — especially as I contemplated the sell out crowds, the high-priced tickets and the $40 souvenir programs — there’s money to be made here. And if you can do it with horses, why not terriers? It’s not as if the horses are swinging from the trapezes. The horses are fantastic, but, as the brochure says, the beauty of this cruelty-free circus is that the animals are only doing behaviors and athletics that are natural to them. Horse lovers — and I am one of them — forgive me, but I think terriers may have a larger repertoire of those than your average equine.

Let’s take the opening act, which nearly brought down the house for the cuteness factor. Two of the youngest equines in the troop, a couple of 6 month old rescue colts romp out on the stage and start to play with toys. All accompanied by that French/Celtic/New Agey Cirque du Soleil music. Run out and play with toys? Hey, Oscar and Lucy have had that bit down for years! Why our act, working title Terrieralia, is practically together and ready to hit the road for a 12 city tour.

We started training immediately. While the terriers of Terrieralia can’t run at top speeds carrying Russian acrobats on their backs, they can do their own aerial stunts.

Just add dog biscuits!

Now those acrobats in Cavalia are pretty spectacular. We’ll have to recruit ourselves some from Russian and Chinese circuses. In the meantime, we have British acrobats. They’re almost in the same shape and they have experience with terriers.

Terrier Élevée

Behold the Terrier Élevée, where man and terrier become one!

Marvel at the gravity defying Front Terrier Lift!

Terrier jete

Be astounded at the elegance of the Terrier Jeté!

One of Cavalia‘s best acts is one where 10 horses take the stage on their own doing precision moves, twirls and paces with no trainer in sight. I’m sure that took years to perfect and, I admit, we’re not going to have that portion of Terrieralia ready for prime time any time soon.

terrier circus tricks

Our star was a bit reluctant to tackle heights on his own.

Terrier stool stand

We're still explaining the concept of this act.

terrier circus trick reward

And working to get beyond the need for a dog treat at every step of the trick.

Clearly we needed some special coaching. Luckily our friend Julian was in town. I have told you about Julian, haven’t I? He and Cousin John (who is really his cousin, not ours) actually come from a famous European circus family. A family so well-known in the circus world that their great great grandmother was painted, in her tutu and on horseback, by Toulouse-Lautrec. True story!

julian and oscar

Julian imparting circus wisdom to a reluctant terrier.

Yes, we still need some training before we’re ready to appear under the Big Top with Terrieralia.

Smooth Fox Terrier

Meanwhile, our star is ready for his close-up!

Stage Lucy

While other performers are in the troop solely for their looks and ability to rock a Renaissance Faire style scarf.

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