A vintage circus has put out a call for unusual equestrian acts.

Giffords Circus, which was founded seven years ago and tours the village greens and market towns of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, needs some fresh talent for next season.

Director Nell Gifford is putting together a fresh show and is on the lookout for horsey performers to supplement acts already booked. These include a French brass band, Russian acrobatic troupe and Tweedy the clown from Dundee.

“Between now and December, we’re casting people who can do something interesting on horseback, such as play a trumpet, juggle or do archery,” she said. “There are up to 14 shows every week, so it can be exhausting, but it’s a rewarding way of life.”

The successful applicants will begin rehearsals in March next year, then between May and September the whole circus will travel in old wooden caravans with an old-fashioned white marquee.

“It’s more a cross between a 1920s circus and the theatre,” said Mrs Gifford. “We don’t use wild animals like other circuses, but it’s magical and bohemian. We perform mainly for small rural audiences.”

In recent years her circus has showcased a lady stunt rider with slick gun skills and a group of Russian Cossack trick riders who both responded to a story about the circus in H&H (news, July 2003).

The show has also featured trained opera singer and Heythrop hunt follower Emily Campbell.
“It was the perfect job for me, as it combined both singing and riding,” said Ms Campbell from Lower Swell in Gloucestershire.

“I would dress up like a wizard on my 15.2hh coloured horse, Mappo, singing an aria from Tosca.”

To offer your services, contact Mrs Gifford on (tel: 01451 820378). For tickets, (tel: 01242 572573).

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (27 September, ’07)