Stately Lippizan stallions will debut at the Canfield Fair.
By VERONICA GORLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Elegant costumes and a brightly colored backdrop, complete with lights and sound, set the scene of a glamorous, medieval fantasy kingdom.
But the backdrop becomes inconsequential upon the entrance of the show's stars -- a majestic, ancient breed of horses.
Centuries ago, Lippizan stallions were bred as war horses for European kings.
Beginning Thursday, spectators at the Canfield Fair can see "All the Kings Horses," a free demonstration of ancient battle techniques performed by the descendants of horses that once roamed Europe's battlefields.
"It's almost a forgotten art," explained Linda Wilson, horse trainer and owner. "It's not a typical horse show."
"All the Kings Horses" is scheduled for 1, 4 and 8 p.m. on Holowach Drive near Gate 8A and runs through Monday. Sponsored by The Vindicator, the half-hour show features three royal Lippizan stallions of Austria, an Arabian, a Friesian of Holland and a miniature horse named Goliath.
"It's an exhibition of dancing horses, basically," Wilson said. "They are the ballerinas of the horse world."
16th-century origins: Wilson said the Lippizan breed, a cross between Arab blood and athletic Spanish horses that trace back to the 1560s, is one of Europe's finest. The cross-breeding results in a horse renowned for beauty, intelligence, proud carriage and docile disposition. Though born dark, Lippizans turn white between ages 6 and 10.
Descended along the same bloodlines of Lippizans, a black Friesian stallion also will perform. Originating in the Netherlands in the early 16th century, the Friesian breed was used as a war horse during the Dutch independence struggle against Spain.
One of the show's highlights is "Airs Above the Ground" -- war movements that require years of training and development, Wilson explained.
The routine includes a maneuver called the capriole, in which the horse leaps through the air, extends its body and kicks. It was used to kill enemy soldiers before the use of gunpowder, Wilson said.
First time at fair: "All the Kings Horses" joined Florida-based Goin' Ape Productions in January, and this will be the group's first fair appearance.
"We always have a free show of some sort, and we try to have something different every year," said fair manager Bev Fisher. "We're confident it will be a good show."
Judy Stevens of Goin' Ape Productions said crowds are "thrilled with the beauty" of the horses and the show.
"Everybody loves horses," Stevens said. "We've taken some special types of horses that people don't usually get a chance to see."
"The movement and training you're going to see is centuries old," she continued. "We've brought this to the fair to give people who won't regularly see it the opportunity to see the beauty of it."