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Flying horses get a cushy ride

Gary Lashinsky ditched the Rolling Stones for stallions. They're not as demanding, said the Lipizzaner producer from his Orlando ranch.

Gary Lashinsky ditched the Rolling Stones for stallions.

They’re not as demanding, said the Lipizzaner producer from his Orlando ranch.

Back in the 1970s, Lashinsky produced concert tours for the Stones, Elvis, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Who, and Bon Jovi, to name a few.

Bon Jovi didn’t want any green M and Ms, said Lashinsky with a laugh.

The stallions aren’t as picky.

But the white Austrian horses still get star treatment.

The 12 touring stallions have travelled hundreds of miles up the Alaska Highway in the Pegasus President—a customized tractor-trailer with air ride, air conditioning, audio and TVs.

“They usually go about 500 miles a day,” said Lashinsky. But coming up the highway, there have been some long hauls.

Most of the horses are from Austria, and were handpicked by Lashinsky.

“I have a good eye,” he said.

“I’ve had wonderful luck selecting some of the highest quality horses.”

Lashinsky also picks his riders.

“They’re from all over the world,” he said.

Most of the dressage riders start training when they’re five years old.

But Lashinsky didn’t learn how to ride until after his rock n’ roll career.

“I learned to ride so I could understand the theory and the concept of it,” he said.

“Riding dressage is not as easy as you might think it is.

“When you see a fully trained horse with a fully trained rider it appears as if the horse is doing everything on its own and the rider is not even necessary.

“But that isn’t the case, the rider has very subtle leads to move the horse in every direction.”

Lashinsky, when he isn’t riding stallions, races his Dodge Viper and flies planes.

“Racing is in my blood,” he said. “It’s like good drugs, once it’s there it stays there.”

The stallions have been through Whitehorse before, stopping on their way to Alaska.

And Lashinsky remembers flying on an old DC3 on one of his passes through the territory.

He chatted up the pilots and ended up flying from Dawson to Whitehorse.

“It was all dead reckoning,” he said.

“You have to know where you are by the marks on the ground, the towers, the trees, the lakes—so I just took a heading for Whitehorse, lined up with the runway and landed.”

Lashinsky loves “anything fast and exhilarating.”

And the stallions thrill him.

“I’ve been involved with them for 40 years,” he said.

There are only 3,200 Lipizzaner stallions in the world. And 45 of them live on Lashinsky’s ranch.

There are some old retirees, who have been put out the pasture, and there are younger horses in training.

The stallions were originally bred for war, in the 1500s.

That’s why they’re able to leap and dance above the ground so gracefully, said Lashinsky. “They were bred to protect the rider in the saddle.”

By the end of the Second World War there was only a handful of the horses left. But breeding has helped to restore six main bloodlines.

“They’re four-footed ballet dancers,” said Lashinsky.

The dancing white stallions will be taking the stage at the Takhini Arena today.

There’s a show at 3 p.m. and a show at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre and at Arts Underground.

Contact Genesee Keevil at