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Cavalia Extends San Diego Run For The Holiday Season

Evening Edition

If you're home for the holidays and looking for something out of the ordinary to do, you might want to go see the last North American tour for Cavalia in downtown San Diego. It's described as a magical encounter between human and horse.

Cavalia's first visit to San Diego was in 2004 just after the show's initial debut 10 years ago. It's now been seen by more than 3.5 million people worldwide. Think Cirque du Soleil with 50 horses and a multimedia production with live music. The show displays high-flying acrobats, death-defying stunts and tricks and ballet-like performers virtually walking on thin air.

Cavalia comes from Quebec, Canada and was created by Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil.

But well before the performers come to town, it takes 150 people just to set up the elaborate tents and distinctive big top, currently staged near Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

It takes three weeks and lots of manpower to set up one of the world's largest touring tents, but the driving force behind the show is horse power. With 50 horses representing 11 different breeds, they're truly the stars of this equestrian extravaganza.

In the stables under the large tents, every horse is showered with one-on-one attention from head to toe.

"It's actually the largest traveling tent in the world besides our sister show Odysseo, which now has a bigger tent then us," Spencer Rose said.

Rose is one of two performers in Cavalia from California's Central Valley. She introduces us to Tad, the quarter horse she uses to perform her tricks during the show.

"He's been doing it for five years and he's 12 years old. All the horses get grained everyday and have a special diet and each diet is built for the horse," Rose said.

She says Tad is built for running and doing tricks.

"You know we have different horses, we have a warm blood who's used for jumping because that's what he's really good at so, kind of like people, different people are built for different things," she said.

Now 21, Spencer Rose started riding horses at an early age. She grew up in Exeter, Calif. near Fresno and actually learned some new tricks performing with Cavalia. This show is all about the bond between horse and man.

One of Rose's favorite stunts is the tail drag, or hanging off the back of the horse.

"And all of my trust is in him at this point. I have to trust him to move and not to hurt me, so it's fun to get the hair a little dirty everyday," Rose said, hanging off the back of Tad while circling the ring.

After 12 tours and 400 performances under her belt, she must be used to turning in a circle without getting dizzy. And if riding a horse upside down isn't enough for you, try spinning two lasso at the same time. That's her cowgirl trademark.

Cavalia has been wowing crowds in San Diego since November and it's extending its stay until January 6. Then it's off to Australia for several months.

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