Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Interview with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Animal Trainer Catherine Carden!

Back on their fourth tour, the Cardens, Brett and Catherine (Cathy), are the featured animal presenters in the 7th Gold Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Super Circus Heroes℠. They will amaze audiences as they perform three extraordinary presentations: one featuring three Asian elephants; a second with an mixed animal act including two camels, two Shetland ponies and two Arabian horses; and a new dog and horse presentation highlighting terriers, poodles and mixed breeds, and, of course, miniature horses.
The above is from their official bio.



Early Life

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.”



Show Time

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.)



Family Time

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?
Yes

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!

59 comments:

  1. It's always nice to see someone who loves their job so much. The circus is coming to my town this weekend. Maybe we'll go!

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  2. We hit the circus every year when they come to town. It's the one show that my daughters remember all the details of!

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  3. Interesting interview. I am glad to hear that the animals are truly taken care of at least in this circus!

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  4. That is a super cool interview. I imagine that it can't be an easy job to work with animals all day like that.

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  5. Great Interview! A new perspective on some who are in the Circus!

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  6. I love the circus. How awesome that you got to interview her.

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  7. ThinkingAnimals.com would be very happy to know that Circus Animals are well cared for!

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  8. That's great that they've got 5 vets traveling with them. It's also nice that you got to do the interview. :)

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  9. What a great interview! Thanks for asking about if the animals are well taken care of because that was one of the main reasons why I did not go to the shows because I heard the animals were mishandled.

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    1. This woman make a living off the backs of these elephants. I implore you to do your own research on "circus elephant abuse". See how Ringling's elephants are trained behind closed doors.

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  10. What a fun inside look at the world of The Greatest Show on Earth. Thanks for such an entertaining and interesting post; I've been a fan or The Ringling Bros. Show pretty much my whole life!

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  11. I have always love the circus, I think at one point I even wanted to be a part of one. How great is it that she got ot follow her dreams and in her parents footsteps.

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  12. What a fun and exciting interview!

    Thanks for sharing

    xoxo,Tara
    www.pookasfamily.com

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  13. I loved the Ringling Bros Circus. We went back in February and the Big Cat Care was awesome!

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  14. That is a great interview.. i have wondered a bunch of times how people get into the business.

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  15. I haven't been to a circus in many years but this makes me want to take my son!!!

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  16. Cool interview! It must be great growing up in a circus. :)

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  17. What a cool job! I guess I have never thought of being a mom in a traveling circus! So interesting!

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  18. I love the photos and looks great, thank you for sharing

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  19. I remember her from when we went to the show! So cool to see a little behind the scenes of their lives.

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  20. I have actually never been to the circus before so I was very interesting reading this interview! It would be an incredible experience to see a show sometime!

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  21. That seems like such an exciting and fun job for an animal lover. I could not imagine having a HORSE break my nose not one but THREE times..ouch.

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  22. Very interesting interview! I always loved going to the circus as a kid.

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  23. What A AWESOME Interview Some Amazing People!

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  24. It's always great to talk to someone who truly loves what they do, it just radiates from them. We love seeing Ringling Bros every year, they have a wonderful show and amazing animal acts.

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  25. What a great interview! I can't imagine going to the circus at 13 years old!

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  26. That is a very fun interview! When someone loves their job, it's always very obvious.

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  27. Our kids love the circus! What a fun interview, thanks for sharing.

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  28. wow, what a neat interview! Thanks for sharing!

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  29. What a fascinating interview! So cool that she grew up in the Circus.

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  30. What an interesting interview! My Mom loves the circus!

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  31. How neat to get a feel for what goes on in the life of and behind the scenes. Terrific interview! - Jenn @ The Rebel Chick

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  32. I can't believe she started at age 12. That is a lifelong passion!

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  33. Awesome photos and such an interesting person to interview! What a crazy way to grow up, but so cool.

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  34. So interesting! It's very cool to get to learn more about the other side of shows and lives like this. :)

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  35. What a fun and interesting....and unique job. That has to be very rewarding

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  36. What a great interview. My daughter absolutely loves the circus!

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  37. What a super neat life to live. Sounds like she had fun growing up. I want to take my kids to the circus soon. I use to go every year as a child. Great interview.

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  38. What a great interview. We love the circus! Such a fun lifestyle.

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  39. She would be a fun person to interview! The circus looks really fun!

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  40. What a great interview. The circus is a timeless activity!

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  41. What a neat interview! It definitely takes special people to do her job! And how cool is it that both her parents were circus stars?!?

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  42. It's cool to read what her day is like. I'd never thought about someone like her having kids.

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  43. Its rare to find a job that someone loves so very much. It's amazing that she does.

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  44. This is a great interview, though I have to admit I feel very bad for circus animals so we never go.

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  45. What a fun job and great experience for you! I have to agree, I feel bad for the animals, but I try to convince myself it is the same as having a pet.

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  46. Sounds like her childhood, and her whole life, has been quite interesting. I remember us dreaming with my sister to grow up in a circus filled with animals.

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  47. Such a great interview! I love that her parents were also circus stars. It sounds like she truly cares about the animals and her job!

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  48. What a great interview opportunity! I have fond memories of the R&R circus!

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  49. Awesome. I love elephants, so looking at the pics were fun. Amber N

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  50. I Love the circus!!! That's awesome you got to interview the trainer.

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  51. Amazing Interview!

    Its so amazing to know that they do take care of animals and even Vets always travel with them

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  52. I haven't seen the circus since my 16 year was in Kindergarten.

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  53. This is interesting. I have always thought that most people in the circus grew up in the circus.

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  54. I haven't been to the the circus since I was a kid, but I can't wait to bring my own toddler there soon! I know he would love all the animals.

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  55. How neat to have 3 baby elephants around all the time!

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  56. Great interview- wow that would be a fantastic job to have. The Ringling Bros has one of the best circus shows in the business!

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  57. Great interview and very interesting!!!

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