13 HORSE BREEDS, OVER 100 FOUR-LEGGED STARS
Our productions are a symphony of colours and emotions, the central theme of which is the beauty and magnificence of our four-legged artists. Nowhere else in the world are horses showcased in such an enchanting, innovative performance setting and treated with such respect, both on and off stage.The original Cavalia show features 40 horses from a dozen different breeds. In Odysseo, our newest production, 65 equine performers take centre stage.
A breed developed in the 18th century by the Nez Percé tribe of Native Americans and descended from the horses taken to the New World by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16 th century, the Appaloosa is famous for his colorful, spotted coat and striped hooves. Adopted as the state horse of Idaho in 1975, the Appaloosa was once called a “Palouse horse” after the Palouse River which is located in the US states of Idaho and Washington where the breed originated. The horse is favoured as an all around, compact saddle horse with powerful quarters and tractable disposition.
Admired for their distinctive, dished facial profile, large eyes, and high intelligence, the Arabian horse, reputed to be the oldest continuous breed, lived among the desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula from at least 2500 B.C. Bred by the Bedouin as war mounts for an extreme climate, the Arabian evolved with an unequaled level of stamina and energy. The breed’s age-old affinity with man is legendary; Arabians often shared the tents of their nomadic owners, along with their food and water.
Thought to descend from the prehistoric Solutré horse, the Ardennais is one of the most ancient horse breeds in Europe, dating back to Ancient Rome. Originating in the French and Belgian Ardennes regions known for their severe climate, these tough horses were first bred for the purposes of war, then agriculture. The Ardennais was considered one of the best breeds of draft horse. At the end of the 19th century, the breed’s legendary characteristics as coach and draft horse slowly gave way to that of heavy draft horse, noted for its gentleness, docility and enormous bones. The Ardennais’ coat color is usually roan or bay, with dark and abundant feathering.
An unknown little Canadian treasure, this breed descends from the horses sent to the New World by Louis XIV. Named “the little iron horse,” the Canadian is known for his strength, willingness, curiosity and resistance to harsh climates. Once on the verge of extinction, there are now more than 2,500 Canadian Horses in existence.
A breed steeped in history, the Comtois is a light draft horse bred in the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland since the sixth century. It probably descends from horses brought by the Burgundians, a population that came from Northern Germany some 200 years before. A hardy, willing horse, often chestnut in color with a flaxen mane and tail, the Comtois became famous as an army horse. Louis XIV used the Comtois for his cavalry and artillery, as did Napoleon Bonaparte. Stocky and powerful, with a wide frame and muscular hindquarters, the breed has a reputation for gentleness. Today, the sure-footed Comtois is still widely used for work in the high pine forests and the hilly vineyards of France.
The Holsteiner horse is a type of Warmblood that was originally bred in the region of Holstein in Germany. In the 1600 and 1700’s, Holsteiners were used around Europe as Cavalry mounts. By the 19th century, heavy cavalry horses were no longer required for the battlefields and the first modification in type was made when Yorkshire Coach Horses, English Thoroughbreds and other lighter types of stallions were used to influence the breed. The result was a most noble and sturdy breed of carriage horses that were most popular around Europe. The breed has combined the elegance of the Thoroughbred with the dependability, power, ability, heart and stamina of the Holsteiner. Holsteiners are nowadays found at the top levels of dressage, combined driving, show hunters, and eventing.
Bold, brave, and athletic, the Lusitano is the traditional horse of the Portuguese mounted bullfighters and revered by the country’s classical riding masters. Similar in build to the P.R.E. horses of Spain, the two breeds are thought to have originated from a common source on the Iberian Peninsula thousands of years ago. Portugal closed its studbooks to Spanish horses in 1960, renaming its breed the Lusitano. Blessed with a thick, luxurious mane and tail, the Lusitano’s more convex profile is reminiscent of the old Andalusian. Today, this intelligent breed is in demand for dressage, and for its quickness balanced with its ability for collection.
This breed of horse has the same characteristics and proportions of a standard sized horse, but in miniature, allowing it to be distinctly different from a pony. Strong and hardy, they were used in Europe in the 1700s to pull carts in the coal mines. The breed was further developed in Argentina, based on the Shetland Pony, and named Falabella, after the family that developed the horses. Today, the Miniature Horses are even being used as pets and service animals due to their docile nature and long-life span.
Known for his colorful coat pattern, compact build and docile disposition, the American Paint Horse is popular the world over. Descending from the Spanish horses exported to America in the 16 th century, Paint Horses can be a combination of white and virtually any color in the equine spectrum. While the markings can be any shape or size, and located anywhere on a Paint’s body, the coat patterns are just three types: overo, tobiano and tovero. It is now the second most popular in the U.S. breed registry. The Paint is a purebred Quarter Horse where a Pinto is a color type.
Noted for his substance and style, the Percheron is a well-muscled draft breed. Weighing 2,000 pounds (910 kilos) or more, his towering presence belies his docility and stylish elegance. The breed originates in the Perche region of northern France. Historically, he has been a war horse, coach horse, farm horse, heavy artillery horse, and saddle horse. Typically grey or black in color, the Percheron is known for its intelligence and innate willingness to work.
Blazing fast over short distances, the American Quarter Horse has been clocked at speeds of up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h) in races of a quarter mile or less. Known for his versatility, good temperament, and “cow sense,” the Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the world, with more than four million horses registered. Bred in the early 17 th century in the Virginia and Seaboard settlements from stock of Spanish origin, compact, heavily-muscled, and intelligent, this versatile horse is synonymous with Western riding.
Linked with the history and culture of Andalusia, the billowing mane, charisma, and unmistakable beauty of the Pura Raza Española, or Pure Spanish Horse, is the calling card for a breed dating back as far as 2500 B.C. War horse of the Romans, the P.R.E.’s agile, fluid movement gained him popularity among European courts and equestrian academies in the 15th to 18th centuries. The Spanish closed their studbooks to Portugal in 1912, choosing the name P.R.E. instead of “Andalusian.” Today they are recognized for their presence, agility and high stepping action with a very docile temperament.
A dominant presence on the international sporthorse competition circuit, many modern Warmbloods excel in jumping, dressage and three-day eventing, and serve as the breed of choice for Olympic equestrian teams around the world. The breed began emerging when warriors returned to Europe from the Middle East and Africa with hot-blooded Arabian horses captured in battle, which they then bred with heavier, agricultural breeds. Originally used as the mounts for the European aristocracy, carriage horses and cavalry mounts, the Warmblood’s popularity grew at the end of the Second World War when recreational horse-riding spread across the Western world.