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Living the Dream

Spencer Rose Litwack has ridden a childhood passion for trick roping to the Cavalia center stage

From Horsetrader staff reports - February 2nd, 2011 - Cover Story, Feature Article
February 3, 2011 Cover

February 3, 2011 Cover

BURBANK – Of all tricks Spencer Rose has done on horseback, she still remembers her first one in front of a crowd.

She was 12, and her folks were among parents gathered to watch their daughters as they revealed what they had learned during a week-long trick riding camp at the Riata Ranch in Exeter. The routines were simple, slow and very safe – but still quite challenging for a girl who had ridden for the first time that week.

“I was so scared,” says Rose, now 19. “It was a trick called `around-the-horn’ where you go around off of the neck, then jump off. I took it very, very slow, and very safe — it really was intense, an adrenaline feeling. I remember being so scared, but once I got on that horse, a little confidence came over me and I was able to perform.”

Rose Spencer and her co-star Tad take a break from her Cavalia routine at Burbank, where the show runs through at least Feb. 15.

Judy Walker photo

Rose Spencer and her co-star Tad take a break from her Cavalia routine at Burbank, where the show runs through at least Feb. 15.

She still performs — now with Cavalia as a recent addition to the acclaimed troupe that performs in Burbank through Feb. 15. She credits Riata Ranch and her supportive parents for her dream career.

“That one week really, really made a difference,” recalls Rose, a Riata Ranch Girl until last fall when Cavalia selected her for 2011 at an audition in Denver. “No one ever really thought in the beginning it was for me, but I stuck with it because I loved the performance aspect of it so much.”

She also has talent. Training under Riata Ranch Director Jennifer Nicholson, she favored trick roping at first, then took her routine on horseback. That made the difference in her audition for Cavalia, which was looking for a roping act.

“I love what I’m doing,” said Rose, the daughter of Andy and Sidney Litwack. “One of the beautiful things is we’re like a big family now. We spend a lot of time together and get along really, really well. It’s like one big family.”

Rose Spencer

Lynne Glaser photo

Rose Spencer

It’s a family with a shared, supportive mission — perfection.

“I’m lucky to be with a troupe of people who have the same passion of performance for the skills they do — that’s what we all share in common,” she said. “”The desire for perfection — we all are so technical about what we do. We’ll come out and everyone is just so helpful and cheers each other on.”

Of all performers, she is closest to Tad, a bay, 16 hand Quarter Horse gelding owned by Cavalia whom she respects, admires – and loves. Each afternoon starts with her taking Tad for exercise.

“Then I take the time to wash him and get him ready for the show — keep developing that bond with him,” she says.

About two hours before the show, she attends a production meeting. Then it’s off to get her hair done, make-up, costume – then it’s time to pull out the trick ropes and warm up.

“It’s like my therapy before a show,” she says. “It really helps me get in the zone of the performance.”

Her trick-roping is the fourth act; later in the show, she and Tad perform trick riding and then return for the finale.

“I don’t have time once the show starts to trick rope,” she says.

It is a solo act, the first of Rose’s career, and she has “learned the ropes” from a great mentor, former Cavalia performer Kansas Carradine. The two met when they were on respective acts that collaborated at the Night Of The Horse at the Del Mar National Horse Show.

After the lasso routine, Rose changes costumes and reunites with Tad to prep offstage for the trick-riding.

“We practice some of my tricks at a standstill, and then it’s go-time,” she says. “After the finale, I let him relax a little bit, unsaddle him and wash him off -– then I always grab a big handful of carrots and give him some. He has some special spots that he likes scratched, and I’ll scratch him and spend a little bit of time with him.”

“I want him to know I think he’s awesome,” she says. “That I can rely on him and he can rely on me.”

By the time she removes make-up, puts away her costume and returns to bed, it’s midnight.

“It really is the show business life,” she says. “I am living my dream It’s important for parents to let their kids follow their passions. If kids follow their passions, they are more likely to find themselves in a job that they love one day.”

“I feel really, really lucky,” she adds. “I absolutely love what I do, and I’m blessed — there are people out there who have jobs that maybe they aren’t in love with, but I go to work everyday loving what I do.”

Once selected for Cavalia, Spencer realized she was about to make a jump from her rich Riata Ranch Girl history.

“It was an odd feeling for me when I was chosen because it was a big step,” she says. “When I first started Riata, the performing was more of a hobby, and as I grew it became more of a passion. But I never knew that I could take this and make it into a career. So, becoming part of Cavalia just made all my dreams real. I realized that I could take a passion and make it into my career.”

She credits her parents’ commitment, as well as her own, for being on center stage today.

“My parents absolutely love it,” she says. “They are very proud and happy that I’m able to go off and do something that I love. At first, they were kind of skeptical about me finding a job in something like this, but I really found a venue that I fit into and feel really welcome.”

2 comments have been made on “Living the Dream”

  1. Chad Nicholson Says:

    We are very proud of you Spencer! Rock On Girl!

  2. Mary Ann Babbitt Says:


    Keep it going girl. You are amazing, talented and beautiful, inside and out.

    Auntie Mary Ann and Julie

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