The above is from their official bio.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“My dad was a bareback horse rider in the circus and my mom was a trapeze star. They were both big stars. Growing up we lived a very glamorous life style. When we were not performing, we were practicing. I knew at a very early age I was an animal nut. We had 3 baby elephants, birds, bunnies, and ponies.”
(Through talking with her, I feel she is a true animal lover. She connects on a level with animal that most cannot relate to.)
Did you ever want to be anything else?
“When I was going through my teenage “rebelliousness” I wanted to do TV journalism. I was a very independent person, so I found a way to incorporate my independence by purchasing and choosing my ponies.”
When did you decide this was what you wanted to do?
“When I was 12, my dad stopped doing the heavy circus stuff because it involves so much and really takes a toll on your body. He decided he wanted to do the ground work with the ponies for his friend’s circus, Liberty Circus. He was having a really hard time, because the ponies were not listening at all. I watched him and the other trainers and told pretty much told him 'I got it, dad.'”
(Ground work with horses and ponies is pretty much training. You stand in the center of a riding ring and either “lunge” them on a lunge rope, work them out etc. She took over most of the pony training at the age of 12. They also had dog acts in the circus. She said it was like a small family ran circus.)
Was your house “the house” to go to for all of your friends growing up?
“Not really, I have one close best friend who was there 24/7. Our mothers at the age of 13 left home to join the circus. Talking about it now it sounds crazy to think of a 13 year old leaving home to join the circus but back then it wasn’t uncommon.”
How do you prepare for a show? Relax?
“Ponies? Relax? We are so busy with practice that practicing and getting the ponies ready is relaxing.”
(She REALLY likes her ponies and mini ponies!)
What's the most exotic animal you've worked with?
“I would have to say the elephants. Even though most people don’t have elephants growing up, they are still the most exotic.”
What is the scariest moment you have had working with animals?
“It was with a horse, my mom had just made me a brand new long gown with rhinestones and feathers, and I got my heel tangled in the feathers at the bottom and ended up with a horse hoof to the nose!”
(She has had her nose broken 3 times by horses!)
What are some common misconceptions of the circus?
“Ringling Brothers makes sure all their animals are cared for by the best. They are the main priority and they will go to all lengths to make sure they have the best. For example, if we get somewhere and the hay is bad, they will order or import new fresh hay for them from where ever they need to, regardless of cost. We travel with 5 veterinarians, they rotate between the 3 shows, but at each location we have a vet area set up. Most times the veterinarians will go to the locations previously and scope it out to make sure they are familiar with everything in the event we should have an emergency.”
What's your favorite animal to work with? Why?
The ponies. She REALLY likes her mini’s (mini horses) because they have so much personality packed into a small body!
My daughters both do ballet, but the thought of them performing as a ballerina on horseback is terrifying to me! Were your parents not a nervous wreck?!
“I’m sure they were at first, but we always used safety harnesses, and I grew up in the world so it was easier.”
(She said it was great that my girls do ballet, she thinks every girl should because it teaches them grace. Even if they stop down the road.)
How old are your sons? (George and Cash)
George is 6 and will be going into 1st grade in the fall and Cash is 4 1/2.
What did you do as far as the circus went while you were pregnant?
“I performed up until I gave birth, I was back performing not too long after birth. With my last pregnancy with Cash, I did mostly the dog training at the end.”
What are they into? With them having access to so many different animals and unique people, what do they like to do?
Her boys like Disney movies and have Frozen downloaded on everything. They really like their iPads!
When did your son’s get involved with animals?
“It’s so different for kids in the circus now, when I was young I had jobs I had to do. We work with the kids and they both do great with the animals. George is the natural and does great. Cash is still getting used to them.”
Do they travel with you? If not, how do you deal with being away?
How long are you away from home at a time?
“We are away from home 42-45 weeks but we get up to 3 weeks off at a time. In November we finish and go home to MO for a little while. At the end of this year I will be taking some time off. My husband thinks I will get bored, and I might, but I’m taking my ponies that still need training and the boys and we are going to have some down time and see how it goes!”
Are your boys home-schooled on the road, or how does their education work?
“Ringling Bros. is great about education for the circus kids. At each location they set up a room that is devoted to only schooling and a nursery. We have 2 teachers who teach the kids, so education is never compromised.”
Do you think your sons will follow in you and your husband's footsteps?
She’s not really sure yet, but said that if they do or they don’t, it’s no pressure. They can do what they want and they will support them.
How is working with your husband? How do you separate home and work?
“It’s GREAT! We both grew up in the circus so we are both used to the circus family scene. We are married and have been together since 2001, we work as a team on everything, when I’m training he helps with the kids, he helps so much, we are a team. I fell in love with him, because here’s this big “macho” guy, yet he is so gentle with the animals. He is so kindhearted. He’s great.”
(This girl loves her husband, she is passionate about him. You can hear it in her voice, she is 110% in love with her husband!)
Most of my readers are moms, with you being in the spotlight, what type of normal “mom” things do you do in your down time? (No makeup, sweatpants, and Starbucks?)
“Oh, Yeah! I’m a normal mom, I try to stay in my PJ’s for the most of the first part of the week! Being a mom in the circus is different. In between sets I go take the kids their snacks for snack time and then go back to the show. Just the other day I told my boys who wanted to play outside, to play right around the motorhome, next thing I know they have gone off with the other circus kids and I’m out looking for them to make sure they are ok!”
(She really is a normal mom, who just happens to be in the circus!)
What is your life motto that you try to live by?
“Be happy with the now.” and “Try to see the positive in every situation and try to enjoy your happiness now, with what you have.”
Last year, Cathy's elephant, Carol, made national news by randomly getting shot by someone. Ringling Bros gave her 3 months off to help rehabilitate and heal Carol. They also offered $10K for a reward leading to the arrest of the person who did it. You can read about that HERE! How crazy and sad is that?! Who would shoot an innocent elephant?! :(
A lot of people say Cathy acts so well when performing. She says it’s not an act, she actually is truly that happy performing and can’t imagine what it would be like to have a job that you hated!
I really enjoyed getting to know Cathy a little better and can't wait to take my kids to watch her perform at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Super Circus Heroes show!!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for me, Cathy!!
Make sure to check back here after May 1st for lots of pictures from our visit to the circus!