Sylvia Zerbini Shares Her Magic In Williston, Florida

Monday, December 10, 2018
Posted by Mary Phelps


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Tucked away down a country road in north Central Florida is a magical place where if you know when and where to go, you can be treated to an experience that will not only captivate you, but inspire and entertain in a most unique way.

Sylvia Zerbini and her Andalusian Stallion
Sylvia Zerbini and her Andalusian

Internationally acclaimed Sylvia Zerbini demonstrates her amazing communication and partnering with up to 16 horses in her mesmerizing performances at her Grande Liberté Farms in Williston, Florida.

Former Ringling Circus and Cavalia star and trainer, Sylvia transforms Liberty into the ultimate equestrian performing art. At her own farm, Sylvia and her husband schedule Saturday performances when they are not traveling the world performing.

In an intimate setting enabling her to interact with her audience, Sylvia shares some of her story, talks of her horses, and introduces other performers who come to join her.

As a young child growing up in France, from a multi generational family line of circuit and equestrian performers, the young Zerbini was in charge of bringing her father’s stallions out to the fields. “I was very small, and the stallions were very big,” explained Zerbini, “so I began a bond with them, sitting with them for hours and watching how they communicated with each other.”

Sylvia Zerbini working with ponies
Sylvia Zerbini working with my ponies who were captivated with her from the moment they locked eyes. 

Sylvia also does clinics where she teaches her art and helps individuals learn to communicate with their horses. Two years ago I brought my three ponies and for two hours an amazing transformation began. They were mesmerized by her from the start, and pretty much did everything she asked. To this day I continue to use some of the tips and communication techniques I learned from Sylvia that day. Now that we live closer, there will be more days and more lessons.

When you visit Grand Liberte for a performance, her husband Richie is at the front entrance collecting the $25 normally charged for a performance. Other members of her troupe help park cars, and when we went a few weeks ago, Sylvia’s mother directed us to our seats.

The audience is a mix of young and old, hard core horse people, and families with children in cowboy boots. You learn about her performances through her Facebook page, and also her website. Its best to follow on Facebook, as the website is not always up to date. In fact the performance we attended was an “impromptu” announcement.

Having just returned from a summer on the road, and the past few months in Canada working with the Cavalia horses, Sylvia admitted they had been off for awhile and her horses were “a bit round in the belly” at the moment.

I tell every one about how her performances affect me. I can easily say I have seen it all in my lifetime as an equine photographer and journalist. But as I sit there and watch each horse enter through the soft red curtains into her beautifully lit arena and interact with her, I am brought to tears every time.

This December 22, we will be going again. It is a sold out performance, and I managed to reserve 20 seats for friends I have reached out to. Her daughter will be recreating Sylvia’s Ringling act, where she did aromatics from a round swing high in the air, directing the white horses below.

Enjoy the photos (no videos allowed) and I promise I will bring more after our trip to Williston.