Sarasota, Florida is a cultural Mecca of the United States. The city is home to Siesta Beach-"America's #1 Beach", the Ca D'Zan, which is the mansion built by John Ringling (cofounder of the Ringling Brother's Circus, and owner of the Barnum & Bailey's Circus), the Ringling Circus Museum, and has a deeply-rooted appreciation for performing and visual arts. It's only fitting that Sarasota is the home-base for one of the few remaining artists that perform the traditional circus-style bareback riding- The Zoppes.
The Zoppes are 9th-generation circus performers with multiple generations of ancestors as world-renowned bareback riders. Upon any amount of research into the art of bareback, also known as rosinback riding, you will find a relative of the Zoppes.
I love paddle boarding but it's always been second to my love for horses.
The last two years, however, I spent all of my time training on my SUP. It became clear to me that I needed to balance out my life. I decided to spend the rest of winter in Sarasota, Florida to do all the things that I love - acrobatic stunts on horses, paddle boarding, and aerial arts. And of course, living in a place where I don't have to worry about dying from hypothermia.
I grew up as a die-hard vaulter. Vaulting is actually considered a different sport, but it evolved from the bareback riding in the circus. Vaulting is great for building technique, strength and discipline, but bareback riding forces you to be able to roll with anything. You don't have giant handles on the horse's tack to be able to rely on for stability and security when you bareback ride, so bareback riding forces you to have more of a connection to the horse versus the surcingle. I have a lot of respect for the art of bareback riding because it is such a raw form of acrobatic horseback riding with a rich history.
I love bareback riding. Bareback riding suits my dynamic and powerful movement strengths that I had as a vaulter, plus I love performing in shows more than working toward trying to achieve the 'attainable-but it takes a lifetime of dedicated work to score a perfect 10 in the competition ring.'
So, for the months of February through April this year, I trained in Sarasota, Florida with Cavallo Equestrian Arts.
Over the past two weeks I traveled and performed in Cavallo's Ma'Ceo Show at the Washington State Fair in Tacoma, Washington and at the Minnesota Horse Expo in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was an amazing experience to hit the road and drive all over the country with ten horses in-tow. I worked with a troupe of talented human performers from all over the world and from a variety of circus and multicultural backgrounds. I made some long-lasting friendships and created memories that are truly unforgettable.