LIVING AN ART….
“I think of myself as more of a representative of an old art, an old way of working,” says Enrique (Ricky) Suarez, the draft horse trainer for CAVALIA and a fifth-generation circus performer whose family has been renowned for their talents with horses for decades. PBack in the 1920s and 1930s there were a lot of bareback acts and a lot of guys somersaulting on horses,” adds Suarez, who was born in California and now calls Florida home when not touring. Suarez, 24, is today among a handful of bareback riders around the world who can execute an airborne full twist from one horse to another. He was nine when he first performed the somersault in public.
Suarez remarks, “I have all the tricks in me, but I have to be able to train them onto the horses. That’s what really takes time and trust.” Having started from scratch last summer training draft horses for the bareback acts in CAVALIA, Suarez first began working with Buddy. A massive Belgian gelding, Buddy has already distinguished himself as the horse Suarez whirls above during the show in a somersault. The dark-haired performer remarks, “Somersault is a trick that I have to be able to train onto a horse and for that horse to willingly accept.” Mutual trust is paramount. “They have to really maintain their steady beat for me to be able to do what I do. Even though he’s not doing a bow or a lay-down, the horse is doing that trick for me. Buddy1s my somersault horse, which is a title that a lot of horses don’t earn. He’s very dependable.”
A well-honed regimen before each show gets Suarez and Buddy ready to perform. “I do acrobatics on the ground before I even get on the horse. I need to be hot like an engine. I need to be pepped up. I need to move,” describes Suarez. “After I warm up and the body is stretched out completely, I start to jog in place or jump up and down. Then I’ll start doing back flips or back somersaults. Just to get the mind ready to literally turn over, upside down. Then, I warm up with my horse which is my calm time. With Buddy, it’s trotting. I pet him and really relax him before the show. He needs to see me in a cool, calm way.” Flashing a thousand-watt smile, Suarez and Buddy head from CAVALIA1s indoor warm-up arena toward the stage entrance to perform before 1,800-plus spectators.