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Trick horses

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LIPIZZANER STALLIONS
2 p.m., 7:30 p.m., Verizon Arena. $24.35-$31.35.

Of all of Verizon Arena's annual events — the Globetrotters, the Gaithers, Monster Trucks, wrestling — this one is the most bad-ass. Granted, there's a lot to peel back before you get to the essence of the Lipizzan. Epaulet-adorned jackets are de rigueur for those who ride the centuries-old breed. And riders do so in a style called dressage, which is all about harmony between horse and rider, but, at its highest levels, embraces moves that recall both ballet and battle. The latter is what makes the Lipizzan “world famous.” In four ancient maneuvers called “Airs Above the Ground,” the horses do moves originally intended for war. Each has a name — Mezair, Capriole, Courbette, Levade — that sounds misleadingly effete. One involves a horse “punching” with his forequarters. Another, the most difficult apparently, features the horse hopping on its hindquarters in a move meant to break through infantry lines while protecting the rider. Yet another finds the horse leaping and kicking mid-leap, presumably to ward off pursuers while jumping gulleys. Still, I bet they still look real pretty amidst all the equine boxing.

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