Gala of the Royal Horses features European breeds

Show will feature dressage, trick-riding, battlefield and bullfighting movements

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
At right, Gigi Gasser and her father, René Gasser, work with their horse named Mozart Wednesday at McGee Park in Farmington.
  • People who purchase VIP passes can meet the horses after the event.
  • There will be two shows on Saturday at McGee Park in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — In the eighth century, Spanish monks hid Andalusian-style horses now known as Carthusians from Moorish invaders that brought Arabian horses into the country. The monks prevented interbreeding with Arabian horses by using tunnels to transport the equines from the monastery into the mountains.

A Carthusian horse will perform Saturday at McGee Park in Farmington as part of the Gala of the Royal Horses.

Havano, the Carthusian, is one of 16 horses that will perform in the show. He will be joined by breeds like Friesians, Lipizzaner and Andalusians.

"Most of these horses were actually bred for the royals of Europe," said stable master René Gasser as he stood near a Lipizzaner gelding at McGee Park on Wednesday.

Gala of the Royal Horses is an opportunity to show off the breeds as well as riding styles such as dressage, battlefield, trick-riding and bullfighting. At one point in the show, a rider will somersault mid-gallop from one horse to another horse.

A detail of Coco Dos' bit is pictured Wednesday at McGee Park in Farmington.

Gasser is a seventh generation horse trainer and has passed down the passion for the riding-styles and horses to his daughter, Gigi Gasser, 19. Gigi Gasser will ride during the show.

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"What gives us the greatest pleasure, I think, is the reaction of the audience," Rene Gasser said.

He said people watching the show respond to the horse's character. He said some of the horses are comedians while others are more serious.

René Gasser, a stable master with The Gala of The Royal Horses, tends to his horse named Havano, Wednesday at McGee Park in Farmington.

The riders are uniquely paired with the horses. Gigi Gasser described the Lipizzaner gelding Mozart as a bossy horse that "pretends he doesn't have feelings."

"He's tough as well, but he also has a sensitive side," she said as she patted Mozart's neck after riding him in an outdoor arena at McGee Park.

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Gigi Gasser said Mozart have a unique bond. Gigi Gasser watched Mozart's birth on a full moon night when she was two years old. She said she still remembers the experience.

While most of the horses in the show are European breeds, a small quarter horse will also perform beside a Friesian. The performance will serve as a comparison of western riding and dressage. 

Christine Drentwett demonstrates a dance with her horse, Coco Dos, using a garrocha on Wednesday at McGee Park in Farmington.

While the quarter horse will be ridden western style, René Gasser said it could also be trained to perform dressage or other European riding styles. 

"A good horse is a good horse," he said. "I can take him and teach him exactly the same things that I do with them."

Gala of the Royal Horses will show at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets to the show are $12 for children and seniors and $22 for general admission. VIP passes that allow people to meet the horses can be purchased for $35. The ticket price will increase by $5 at the gate. Tickets can be purchased online at

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

Christine Drentwett, at left, riding Coco Dos, and Mozart, ridden by Gigi Gasser, participate in a horsemanship demonstration on Wednesday at McGee Park in Farmington.