For famed horsewoman Yasmine Smart, the current tour – which reaches Broadwood later this month – is something of a homecoming as this is her first tour in the UK for more than 20 years.
Yasmine’s grandfather was Billy Smart, whose circus included a 6000-seater big top, and she was one of the main stars in TV specials that drew up to 22 million viewers. She continued recording for the BBC and later ITV well into the 1980s, a decade after the circus stopped touring. Today, she is with the Zippo Circus.
“The show is called Horsepower and I’m in the first half with my horses, while the second half is about horsepower of the mechanical kind,” said Yasmine when the News and Chronicle caught up with her after a training session in Kircaldy yesterday (Tuesday).
Also featuring are motorcycle stunt team the Lucius Troupe, biker/juggler Germaine, trapeze artist Kimberly and comedy acrobats The Konyots. The ringmaster is MBE recipient Norman Barrett, another veteran TV performer famed for his performances with budgies.
Yasmine performs two different acts in the current tour - a “dance” routine with Argentinian dancers Gabriel and Germaine, and also a “liberty” display in which she has four horses obey her voice commands set to the music of Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Yasmine said: “It takes longer to train horses for the riding show than the liberty act which seems a bit odd as I consider the liberty to be the more impressive, but I think it is to do with horses being herd animals. They see me as their alpha female.”
It takes up to nine months of hard work to be able to build a new performance from scratch with fresh horses, although refinement of the act is neverending.
Yasmine , the oldest of five children, is the only one who continues to perform. “All the others settled down and married ‘normal’ people,” she said. “But my youngest brother was just a baby when the circus stopped touring, and has often said that he wishes he had become a performer.
“They come to stay with me for holidays and their children love the circus. For a child, a circus is a magical playground - just as it was for me when I was that age.”
Zippo’s Circus is at Broadwood from July 26-31, at 5pm and 7.30pm. Tickets range from £8/£6 to £22/£16 for ringside. Book on 0871 210 2100 or pay on arrival.