Imagine! Dancing Horses

July 6, 2009
Dianne Olds Rossi
Dianne Olds Rossi

This month, we are featuring trainer and performer Dianne Olds Rossi. She will be performing at the Auburn Equestrian Center in Auburn, California on Saturday evening, July 18. Come see her magical world of Dancing Horses. I caught up with Dianne and asked her some questions about her background, her horses, and her program.

Q: What is your background with horses and how does it pertain to dressage?
I am not a dressage rider, but I have trained many dressage people in piaffe and passage. From these people I have gained a great respect, and I have followed the dressage discipline’s correctness as much as possible in all of my training. The difference with me is I ride to entertain. That means some of my movements are highly-exaggerated to fit the music and the performance. On the other hand, my piaffe and passage have been held in highest regards by those in the dressage community. I can add a lot of brilliance and excitement to these movements because I am free of rules and regulations. This does not make it better or worse — just more imaginative while still kept in its purest form.
I have been performing with dancing horses for 20 years and have been across the U.S., Canada, and Holland.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for “Dancing Horses?”
I had a training stable full of Arabians and was showing in the class “A” shows. But I always had Lipizzans, Andalusians and, later, Friesians in training. One day while walking through the barn, I realized I had a “show on hooves” sitting in my barn.
My first 40-minute show was produced by the California State Fair. From that point on, I never looked back and quit competitive riding and training. My biggest producing shows were two-hour events using Friesian club members as participants, and I designed the performances around my performing horses. We generated a huge following, with over 40 Friesian horses appearing. The shows took place in Canada, California, Wisconsin, and Montana.

Q: Do you train the dancing horses yourself? If so, tell me a bit about your training philosophy and methods.
Yes I train all my own horses and I try and get the most spectacular horse I can find. All my horses are specialized in their own right. I am a firm believer that a good trainer will let the horse show you the way to his or her talent. I let my horses develop their own personalities — what to some people may seem a bit naughty in actuality is a thinking, confident partner. We have a pact: they can be a bit naughty on the ground, but I am “boss” on top. Consequently, my horses have a bold attentive look and not a look of normality. The catch 22 is that I must remain smarter than I have made them, as they are thinking all the time. I approach the training and development of the presentation differently than a show horse because I want to be able to change with the tempo of the music — my horses must react to my cues immediately so that anything I ask stays in complete timing. Therein lies the difficulty. My warm up time for a performance can be as short as five minutes as I am a firm believer that it’s too late to change anything as you are about to perform.

Q: Tell me about the event, “Imagine! Dancing Horse,” that will be held this summer.
I moved to the Auburn Equestrian Center about a year ago. The owner of the facility and I began chatting on what I did with the horses, and we agreed that some day we would put on a show at his facility. So we have now decided to open for the first time this July 18th. This will be the first time the facility has been used for an event such as this, and seating will be at a premium until we can rearrange the venue. This year, we are promoting, “Horses for Healing,” and a portion of the proceeds will be going to their great program.
I do have a wild imagination and will spend hours perfecting music, presentations, and costumes. I hope to entertain children and adults alike. Not only do I build beautiful acts with beautiful horses, but my acts are also entertaining. There might be ‘Iron Man,” “Darth Vader,” or “Charlie Chaplin,” and then something serious and fast-paced, like “Lord of the Dance,” or something fun like “Cowboy Dance With Me.” To me it’s all about fun, elegance, and presenting beautiful horses in the best way possible in a professional presentation.
I feature great horses, with one being the only red-colored registered Friesian stallion in the world! There are some very unique liberty horses, where they perform completely free. The fun thing is the audience doesn’t need to know anything about horses, as this is not a traditional horse show but an entertainment adventure. Dinner will also be served, and we have tried to keep the prices as low as possible due to these economic times.

Learn more about Dianne Olds-Rossi and her Dancing Horses program at To buy tickets for the July event, visit the Auburn Equestrian Center Web site at