The World Famous Lippizzaner Stallions -- a rare breed of white or gray horses trained in gravity-defying moves and fancy footwork -- will perform a family themed show at the Soldotna Sports Center today. And one rider among them may be a familiar face to central Kenai Peninsula residents.
"I'm in the show from one end to the other," said Tony Jackson, who originally hails from Nikiski.
Jackson has been the head rider in the show off-and-on for the past 10 years, and it was a Lippizzaner Stallion performance in town when he was just a teenager that first drew him to his current career.
"The show came to Soldotna for the first time in 1987. I saw it, and knew where they were boarding the horses that weekend, so I went down for an audition," he said.
After organizers saw him ride, Jackson was offered a position in the show, and he accepted. But, due to his age, he had to wait a while before he could begin.
"I was still a junior in high school, so two weeks after graduating from Kenai (Central High School) in 1988, I flew down and joined them," he said.
The decision to audition in the first place came to Jackson after one majestic horse in the show -- a stallion named Distinquido -- caught his eye.
"He looked like an amazing horse. I knew I wanted to ride that horse, and I eventually did. I rode him for more than 11 years, and then rode his son for a few more years after that," he said.
As to what spectators can expect to see from Jackson and the other riders in the show, he said quite a bit. To name just a few movements, there will be a "Pas de Deux," which is an exercise in mirror-image perfection with two stallions, and a "Grande Quadrille," which is a ballet of several stallions and riders performing intricate figures and movements.
There also will be an "Airs Above the Ground" movement, which will feature stallions performing numerous balancing and jumping movements at 45-degree angles to the ground, as well as explosive leaps into the air with all four hooves off the ground. Only stallions with the greatest strength, talent and athletic ability are chosen for these ancient maneuvers.
"These awe-inspiring airs were originally developed to be used as battle tactics in warfare. They could be used to scatter ground soldiers," Jackson said.
The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the sports center. Tickets are $22.50 for adults, and $20.50 for children 12 and younger and seniors 60 and older.
Tickets are available at River City Books and www.tickets.com. For more information, call 262-3151, or to charge by phone, call 800-882-8258.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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