It's a question many have asked of the $30-million theatrical production: How are the 65 four-legged stars of Odysseo by Cavalia cared for?
Today, local media were given the opportunity to tour the stables and practice area next to the big white top in Olympic Village, where the horses will spend the next month until the show wraps up on February 26.
With more horses than humans in the cast, their care is a crucial part of the production, according to Eric Paquette, the show's PR director.
Taking care of the 65 horses of 11 different breeds (which include Appaloosa, Arabian, Stockhorse, Holsteiner, Palomino, Paint Horse, Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, and more) is a team of 20 trainers, veterinarians, health technicians, groomers, and a farrier.
Working from 7 a.m. to midnight each day, the team is responsible for taking care of the horses' health, grooming, and activities, which includes a daily stretching and gymnastics program.
At the stables, each horse has its own spacious stall, with more than enough room to stretch, sprawl, lie down, and rest in. These stalls are reconfigured in the same way in each city, so that the stable environment is always familiar to the animals.
In the days leading up to the show's run, riders spend significant periods of time with their horses, and follow the company's horse training philosophy that mandates an understanding of their needs, preferences, and emotions. Witnessing the interactions between horse and trainer, it's obvious that the animals' needs come first at every stage of Odysseo's run.
While the show is up and running, each animal spends a maximum of 12 minutes on stage. Their 'performances' consist largely of running in rehearsed configurations.
When it comes to nutrition, each horse has a diet based on its individual needs. With eight meals a day, the horses consume 15,000 bales of hay and 32,000 kilograms of grains each year.
Paquette says when it comes to transporting the animals from one city to the next, they are often flown in for increased comfort, while the show's human performers are relegated to buses.
Following Odysseo by Cavalia's last run in Los Angeles, the horses were flown to Vancouver aboard a chartered 747 equipped with airstalls, with a dedicated team of equine specialists on-board.
Upon their arrival, they were taken to a local farm in Delta, where they spent 15 days resting, relaxing, and recouping, before being transported to the stables at Olympic Village.
Watch the video below to get a closer look at how these four-legged stars are transported, and to see where they spent their two-week vacation in Delta.
Odysseo by Cavalia opens this Sunday (January 29) and runs daily (except Mondays) until February 26. Find tickets here.