A big white “big top” looms along I-5 in Burbank for a few weeks. The horse extravaganza, Cavalia, is part Cirque du Soleil, part Medieval Times, part Rose Parade. Normand Latourelle founded Cavalia in 2003 after having co-founded Cirque du Soleil about 35 years ago.
Latourelle says his priority is the comfort and safety of the company’s 49 horses
It takes a while, he notes, for a horse to get used to trapeze artists above them. Unlike the horses, they’re all women. They start high up on the grid, and slowly work their way down.
“And the day she reaches the horse, she gives them a carrot," says Latourelle. "And now, in the show, it might sound a little silly, but in the show, when the horse sees people flying over its head, they think it’s a carrot flying. And the carrot will come soon. And he’s very happy to see that trapeze.”
The horse training staff comprises 20 people. Trainers do not use whips, Latourelle says. Instead, they use voice commands, cluck their tongues, and gesture with their hands.
“So it’s all a matter of time," says Latourelle. "It’s all a matter of comprehension. It’s all a matter of trying to find ways to make the horse comfortable.”
Cavalia continues through February 13.