Horses are amazing creatures. Horses are among the most important animals in human history. They are often able to interrupt human moods, and they don’t judge. Bonding with a horse helps develop self-awareness, and self-confidence, and promotes emotional healing.
They have been used in wars or as a means of transport. They are also used in amazing, creative shows. And, exactly this last point is where we will stay focussed today.
The first thing we should note is that there are many equestrian sports, some of them are pony club, sidesaddle, equitation, horseball, tent pegging, dressage, rodeo, and charreada, amongst others.
Within this magnificent universe, we find Apassionata World GmbH, a live entertainment company with a long history of success in equine entertainment.
They make sure that there is a constant one-of-a-kind mix of all equestrian disciplines, dance, music, and theatre.
In return, every show this company makes is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Laura Viera A.: From where did the idea for this type of show come out?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: Well, the show concept was born out of the conviction that horses can exert far more fascination on people than was previously the case at classical equestrian events. It was important to present different horse breeds and riding styles from all over Europe.
Laura Viera A.: Is there a story behind the names Apassionata /Cavalluna?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: The show was created 20 years ago under the name apassionata. Then in 2018, it changed to Cavalluna because it incorporated two elements that are fitting for the show. First of all, the word Caballo, which means horse, and the word luna which means moon. So this name shows a mystical world.
Laura Viera A.: What does Apassionata want to achieve?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: We want to reach as many people as possible with this great show. We also want to expand it over time and make it more approachable for everybody. In the very beginning, it was more of a horse presentation for only horse-interested people. But now, we try to make many more things, cooler each year, so we incorporate acrobatics, light shows, costumes, etc. A funny anecdote: we often get messages from husbands that they were dragged to their show by their wives or kids and they didn’t feel like going and afterward they were really glad they did go because they enjoyed it.
Riding traditions in Europe
To develop shows that can feature the power, grace, strength, and beauty horses have it was necessary to pay tribute to the immense and long European equestrian tradition that exists.
There is an immense richness of its equestrian traditions, an intricate blend of historic practices, innovative techniques, renowned personalities, and institutions, each leaving a unique hoof print on this intricate mosaic.
Europe has a long-standing relationship with horses.
For example, in Spanish culture, wild horses appeared in cave paintings dating back thousands of years.
Perhaps the most notable equestrian connection is the prestigious Andalusian horse.
The Andalusian horse is a breed that became sought after many centuries ago for its power, athleticism, and elegance.
In France, horseback riding emphasizes harmonious relations between humans and horses.
The fundamental French horse-training principles and processes are guided by non-violence and lack of constraint, blending human demands with respect for the horse’s body and mood.
Another amazing example is Portugal. Portuguese riders back in ancient days were world famous for their agile, brave horses and their superb skills in training horses for mounted warfare. These skills later during the Renaissance evolved into the art of classical dressage.
The beginning of German equestrian traditions can be traced back to the Middle Ages, an era when chivalry and knighthood were of paramount importance.
Horses were not only esteemed as a mode of transport but also integral to warfare and knightly tournaments.
It should be noted that Germany is particularly known for its tradition in dressage, a highly skilled form of riding performed in exhibitions and competitions.
Laura Viera A.: How do you work with all equestrian traditions?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: All European traditions are interwoven and supplemented by many other elements and effects to create a show format that invites you to marvel and dream.
Laura Viera A.: How many horses are part of the experience?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: We have a few different shows. Our best one is the big touring show. That travels all over Europe for 8 months and over 30 countries. In this show, we have around 60 horses. We have two additional shows that only take place in Munich, for two weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter. Those shows have a bit of a different vibe. A bit younger, funnier, shorter, and more for children and families.
I soon found out that when Apasionata / Cavalluna began it was intended as a showcasing of horses and riders mainly for equestrian enthusiasts. But, as luck would have it, the concept changed. With time it was noted that not only equestrian enthusiasts were interested. As a direct result tailored shows were developed for an ever-changing audience.
Laura Viera A.: Where do the horses come from?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: They don’t belong to us as a company. They belong to individual riders and riding teams all over Europe. They bring their horses to perform in the shows. They come from different countries like Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.
It is vital to establish that the well-being of the animals is crucial for all staff and anyone who takes part in this fantastic production. Most of the people who work here have a passion for horses.
So, it got me wondering if this was true. Or, is it more of a circus-type environment where animals are not cared for? With that in mind, my next question soon followed.
Laura Viera A.: How do you ensure the well-being of the horses?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: The well-being of the horse is very important to us. Most of the staff are horse riders themselves. The horses are only in the show cities on the weekend, from Monday to Friday they are brought to the same stable where they can enjoy a normal horse life, they get to go out on the fields and play with each other. In each show city, an official vet is coming who will look at the horses and will make sure that everything is good for the horses, and that they are happy. If something happens to a horse, if they are injured, we take them out of the show. We also give the horses a lot of time to get used to the show environment, it shows on the stage if the horses are happy, we don’t want unhappy horses.
Part of maintaining the happiness of these animals, just like humans, they need entertainment and play to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Playtime is crucial for their overall well-being and can also help improve their social skills, intelligence, and emotional health.
In keeping with the ever-change in its audience a fantastic family-oriented show was developed. This is the unique “WinterWishLand”, a crucial part of Cavalluna Kids. This was a show that came to life during the winter vacations: from December 26, 2023, to January 6, 2024. Its home was the impressive SHOWPALAST MÜNCHEN.
On a side note, let me state that ShowPalast München was created only with the Cavalluna shows in mind. However, other important presentations also take place here.
It has 1,700 seats and is one of the largest new theatre buildings in Munich. It is an impressive venue designed for shows featuring riding performances, acrobatics, dancing, and music, and offers one-of-a-kind technical possibilities.
Going back to the winter show just let me start by saying this: the audience will step into a winter wonderland and be inspired by a magical and unforgettable show!
Laura Viera A.: What is the story about?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: In a nutshell, the show tells the story of Robert, who has suddenly forgotten how to wish and therefore only receives nonsensical and useless things as presents. This worries fairy Shana, who sees herself as responsible for fulfilling children’s wishes, and sorceress Ramies, who uses her powers to conjure up those wishes. So they take Robert to the legendary WinterWishesLand and teach him again how true wishing works.
Laura Viera A.: In regards to the special winter show for kids: how was it created, and developed?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: It was created for families to have a great winter show during the holidays.
The interaction between horses, their trainer, and the many stunts is impeccable. A very impressive sight is when the stage is surrounded by fire. This particular moment in the shows lets all spectators see a great talent both from the riders and the horses.
The pyromaniac Wenzla makes sure the main character in the story has a very hard time understanding the importance of wishing from the heart. Of truly believing, of letting go and realizing all imagination.
But, with the help of his friends, the fairies, and Santa’s brother, Robert manages to regain his imagination so that he can truly wish with all his heart.
In addition to all the talented performers, the beautiful horses, and their riders, it provides an incomparable live experience.
The special theater on the grounds of the CAVALLUNA Park has Europe’s largest permanently installed LED wall and has been given a special stage set-up, especially for the winter show.
Families will be able to enjoy cuddly ponies, elegant Andalusians, or proud freedom horses – paired with spectacular fire effects, action-packed stunts, and lots of comedy, the program is perfectly rounded off!
This show whisks you away on a journey through sensational winter landscapes and experiences a fairy-tale story peppered with lots of humor and surprises!
Laura Viera A.: How is the work between people and horses achieved?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: The work started many years before they were a part of the show. The horses are often, raised, trained, and bred by their owners in their home countries and stables. They start at a young age and they build them up for years and years and then they come to us. The horses know their trainers and trust them. This is necessary for the horses to feel comfortable performing in an arena, in front of a big audience, with loud music and everything.
Laura Viera A.: How has it changed over the years?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: It used to be more focused on the different horse breeds and riding styles. It has become much more of an immersive experience. So, it’s also about dance and acrobatics, a story that has a message for everybody. It is more of a theater play with horses rather than just a presentation.
Laura Viera A.: Has there been a specific moment that has “marked” a before and after with the show?
Iris Heider from Apassionata: Not a specific moment but of course the show has changed quite a lot over the years. Especially in the last few years, we have tried to incorporate a great story. So, it’s not only beautiful for the eyes to look at but also something to think about, something that transports people to a different world and takes them through a magical story. There is always a balance between making it approachable for children and interesting enough for adults. We never get complaints so I think it works quite well.
The harmonious and trusting cooperation between humans and horses is staged in an inimitable way and also applies to the interaction of all participants with their animals outside of the show.
Each team member treats the animals involved in the show with love, care, and respect.
In conclusion, a show such as Winterwüchland is the perfect excuse to let your inner child out. To get lost in the magic of wishing, horses, fairies, and dreams.
The great love for all horses must be true, if not it wouldn’t be possible to have such a magnificent interaction with them. After all, the beautiful and charming animals are the heart of the show.
There is wonderful music, a great stage, lights, and colorful costumes. And last but not least, of course, extraordinarily talented actors enchant the audience, bringing the characters to life and telling an exciting and heart-warming story.
People have many reasons to be grateful for horses. The staging of the most diverse breeds of horses in interaction with the traditional riding styles of the world is unique.
Cavalluna Kids WinterWünchLand is unforgettable and unique. It combines the highest level of know-how and professionalism in dealing with horses. It will uniquely enchant every spectator.