MYAKKA CITY -- The creativity and the puns flew as the cast of the touring show of Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions rehearsed for their Haunting Halloween show.
Normally, the cast would wear military-style Austrian costumes as their massive white horses reared and leaped with all four hooves above the ground.
Thursday, however, the cast dressed up as an evil queen, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, the Grim Reaper and Mina Harker of Dracula fame.
Don't think for a second the Lipizzans didn't notice.
Some reacted shyly to the strange costumes or backed away a little wild-eyed.
Reassuring voices and sugar treats soothed the stallions, descendants of
European war horses, and allowed the rehearsal to go on in an arena empty except for a few black birds at 32755 Singletary Road.
"Crows are in the stands watching us. It's Edgar Allan Crow," a cast member wryly noted.
Why have a Halloween show?
"All the girls (cast members) are big Halloween fans," said Rebecca McCullough, who plays the role of the Evil Queen from Snow White.
And who doesn't like to occasionally change their routine?
"It's like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Hey, we have a barn, let's put on a show," said neighbor Beth Steele, who dropped by to watch the dress rehearsal.
Gabby Herrmann seemed pleased with the rehearsal, set to traditional Halloween music and pop music -- think "Ghost Busters," "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Thriller."
"Excitement is in the air, even the mares are up and running around," Herrmann said. "I think everyone is doing the happy dance with the cool weather. It puts everyone in the spirit."
Gates open at 5 p.m. Saturday with the Haunting Halloween
Performance set for 6 p.m. Spectator costumes are encouraged. Trick-or-treating stations will be offered, too.
There will also be a showdown between the Evil Queen and Snow White. A happy outcome is predicted.
A $10 donation is requested at the gate. Children 10 and younger will be admitted free.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053, or on Twitter @jajones1.