Royal horses will give a gala performance in Oakley | ParkRecord.com

Royal horses will give a gala performance in Oakley

When royal horses jump, it's more than the average stadium jumping that usually is featured in English riding equestrian events.

Some of the maneuvers are meant to be lethal, said Rene Gasser, producer and trainer of the Gala of Royal Horses, a traveling equine troupe, that will perform at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Oakley Rodeo Arena.

"We want to show tradition, and let people know what these horses were bred for," Gasser said. "The Lipizzaner Stallions were used for military work, which means they used to fight. They were taught to rear up, jump and kick, and we want to show this."

In addition to the Spanish Lipizzaners, the performance will feature Andalusian dancing horses of Spain, Friesians from the Netherlands, Arabians and Quarter Horses, Gasser said.

These are actually the horses of the royal families of Europe...”Rene Gasser,trainer and producer ofthe Gala of Royal Horses

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"These are actually the horses of the royal families of Europe, and the Lipizzaners are from a line that have been performing for more than 500 years," he said.

Gasser, who has produced other touring equine performances such as Lipizzaner's With the Stars, Equestra and El Caballo Blanco, said the Gala of Royal Horses is different because the performances aren't in large stadiums.

"We wanted to take these horses around the world and show to folks in their own backyard," he said. "It's been a hoot, and people have really enjoyed seeing them."

Other performances have taken place in equestrian complexes and fairgrounds in Wyoming, Colorado, Texas and Florida, to name a few.

Still, with any horse performance, some logistical challenges remain the same.

"First we have to fly the horses over here, and it was a little nerve wracking before all the boys were here," said Gasser, who, with the experiences of seven generations, conceived Gala of Royal Horses, based on an event only previously seen at riding schools in (Austria) and Spain. "We also have a lot of stallions, and we have to careful where we house them. There can't be other horses nearby because our stallions are fiery."

Adding to those challenges is the size of the horses.

"Our big boys weigh close to 2,000 pounds," Gasser said. "These are huge animals and their hair is really long."

While the animals' size poses a challenge to work with, they make for a "spectacular" show, according to Gasser.

"There are people who have never seen horses like this, and when (the horses) come out, people will see just how big they are," he said. "To hear the audiences' reactions when these horses run out before they even do anything has been fantastic."

Although these horses come from lines of performers and fighters, they still need to be trained in their respective arts.

"We do systematic training, especially for our higher-trained horses, and it takes many years to learn how to do these physical feats," Gasser said.

Training starts when the foals are three years old.

"We treat their training like they are attending school," Gasser explained. "We have 'first grade' and 'second grade,' and we moved them up from there and put them into 'college.' As a matter of fact, we call our oldest horses 'professors,' because they study just as long as a professor does."

A certain temperament is required of the horses so they can complete the training, Gasser said.

"You want them to look fiery and hold their heads up and act intensely," he said.

In addition, the horses must also be mentally prepared to step into the spotlight.

"They have to be able to perform in front of thousands of people," Gasser said. "They have to be able travel from place to place. They also have to be able to work when there are lights and music going."

To acclimate the animals to performing, Gasser and his staff takes young horses on the tours.

"We let them hear the music, and we let them see the lights," he said. "We allow them backstage and let them hear the audience."

Gasser also gives the young horses small appearances in the show.

"We do that for a couple of years and watch the horses to see if they can do the work, and, most importantly, see if they enjoy the work," he said. "People can tell when a horse doesn't like traveling and being in front of an audience."

If a horse doesn't enjoy performing, Gasser will finds homes for them on ranches and with breeders.

"That way they can still work for pleasure riding and things like that," he said.

Gasser also trains the riders that appear in his equine shows.

"They are trained in much the same way the horses are," he said. "We watch them ride and teach them a little bit more in the way we would ride."

The riders come from a rider network, according to Gasser.

"When we put a show together, we get the word out and the riders will come for a trial ride," he said. "We look to see if they get along with the horses and vice versa. These are big horses, like I said, and the riders need to be respectful."

Gasser said the first rule of riding is: "The horse comes first."

"Riders have to pay attention to what the horse is doing," he said. "We always try to keep the horses happy."

The Gala of Royal Horses performances run about two hours.

"Sometimes it takes longer, because you never know with horses," Gasser said, laughing. "You can train them all you can, but sometimes they will do funny things."

The Gala of The Royal Horses will perform at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 15, at the Oakley City Rodeo Arena, 4300 N. S.R. 32. Adult tickets are $30, senior citizen tickets are $25. Tickets for children ages 4-12 are $15. VIP tickets, which include meet and greets, are also available for $25 for children and $40 for adults. Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.MonumentalTix.com or by calling 800-626-8497. Tickets will also be available at the door one hour prior to event day of show. For information, visit http://www.galaoftheroyalhorses.com.