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Equine showmanship takes spotlight

Dancing-horse performance includes salute to Hollywood
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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There will be dancing in Auburn. Dancing horses that is. Newly transplanted Foresthill resident Dianne Olds Rossi is an entertainer whose dancing horse shows have entertained audiences in both North America and Europe. Now a riding instructor in Auburn, the former Southern Californian is teaming with Auburn Equestrian Center owner Craig Rosenaur to produce a first-ever dancing-horse show July 18 at the Mt. Vernon Road horse arena. The equine star will be Fire Magic, a rare red Friesian stallion imported from Holland that has gained a reputation for dancing with “feet of fire” to music. The horse was recently honored when the Breyer company produced a specially made figure of Fire Magic. Rossi’s horses have appeared for nearly two decades at the California State Fair and many of the same acts will be performed. That includes a tip of the hat to Hollywood, with Darth Vader on a suitably costumed steed, Yosemite Sam, Captain Hook and appearances by Belle from Beauty & The Beast and Charlie Chaplin. The list of horses in the show also includes Lippizaners, Arabians, shires and, Rosenaur says with a wink, a unicorn. Rossi’s dancing horses will be the highlight of an event at the former Stage Stop Ranch that Rosenaur said has already sold 265 tickets and is moving closer to a goal of at least 300. Rossi has been working as an independent trainer at the equestrian facility, giving riding lessons to horse owners. Rosenaur said that the idea of putting on a show with theatrical lighting, a professional sound system and special effects began to brew after Rossi began working out of the rural Auburn ranch and he learned more about her widely known horse show. “She has a following who know her performances,” Rosenaur said. “She’s performed before thousands but we thought of a more intimate dinner show at the ranch.” When asked about how she is able to train her horses to dance and perform, Rossi refers to a conversation she once had with Academy Award-winning film composer Ernest Gold (“Exodus,” “It’s A Mad, Mad World”), whom she had asked a similar question on how he created music. He had taken riding lessons with her. “He said he could see it all — the notes and everything — in his head,” Rossi said. “He asked me how I’m able to train horses and my reply was that I feel it.” Rossi said she’s hoping to transfer some of that feeling to her audience at the show. “I’m the only one who does what I do in this manner, using movie characters,” she said. “It runs chills down my back at times and I’m hoping it will do the same for our audience.” Best seating is $29.95 with general admission at $19.95. Children are $9.95 for general admission. For $10 more, participants can partake in a chuckwagon barbecue, with all the fixings. A portion of the proceeds as well as drink sales will go to the center’s Horses for Healing therapeutic riding program. Rosenaur and Rossi say they’re hoping to put on more shows, possibly at Halloween and Christmas. “We want to put on an event Auburn can be proud of similar to Nevada City’s draft horse classic,” Rosenaur said. Cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m., followed by dinner from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The show will take place from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com ---------- “Imagine! Dancing HOrses” When: Saturday, July 18 Where: Auburn Equestrian Center, 11330 Mt. Vernon Road Tickets: Phone (530) 823-2110