Liberty horse, Bertram Mills' Circus

Liberty horse, Bertram Mills' Circus

A 'liberty horse' is a horse that performs without a rider or any tack, by responding to verbal and visible commands. To make a horse jump through what looks like a solid hoop is not as easy as it looks. You cannot explain that the tissue paper is not going to hurt and that there is nothing dangerous on the other side. Bertram Mills said that there were no secrets to training a horse. 'Patience, understanding, and carrots are the eternal triumvirate. There is no other way with a horse and never was'. Just teaching the horse to remain calm in front of an audience takes time. It must grow accustomed to working in a brightly lit ring, surrounded by thousands of spectators, with the rhythm of the band, and the laughter and applause of the audience. Bit by bit the distractions are added: a loudspeaker, bright lights, squads of grooms and stable hands come to rehearsals and stand around the ring, shouting, clapping and waving 'programmes' until the horse becomes completely accustomed to them.