Category - Backstage News

Horse practice

January 14th 2021

Throughout the 2019 Xanadu tour we opened our doors to local Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) groups to come and watch horse practice. 

On Thursday, 5th September 2019 we welcomed local groups from the Marlborough and Lambourne RDA groups to horse practice on Marlborough Common. It was a bitterly cold day, that caught us by surprise after the heatwave the weekend before, but it didn’t deter the group of over 50 adults and children who came to watch.

Tony Donnert presented their younger Percheron horse and his son Tony Donnert Jnr demonstrated balances and small jumps on the horses back, whilst Emilia answered questions from the crowd. The Donnert’s work slowly and patiently with their horses getting them used to the ring and then over time introducing elements of their act, each horse responding in their own time. Tony talks to his horses throughout the practice in Hungarian, calmly whispering words of praise and encouragement, reassuring his horse and rewarding him after with a treat or two!

The practice is all too soon over and the horses are led back to their paddocks. The audience has had glimpse into the circus world behind the scenes and the animals in this year’s show and maybe who knows we may have inspired a circus performer of the future?

“We thoroughly enjoyed watching the practice yesterday and are so grateful to Giffords for inviting us.  I think we were all awestruck at the sight of those magnificent horses being put through their paces – especially at such close range – and it made us really appreciate all the work that goes on behind the scenes.  It was a real bonus to see Tweedy and Alfons rehearsing some of their routines, and Lil Rice was excellent at explaining what was going on and answering the children’s rather bizarre questions!” – Lygo Roberts RDA Instructor Marlborough Group

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is a charity that provides riding and carriage driving in 500 centres all over the UK benefiting over 25,000 disabled children and adults. Find out more by visiting