Chopin, a young but promising performer, will scamper into the limelight next month with the July 19 opening of “Ariadne in Naxos.” Just weeks old, the Oberhasli goat will share the stage with performers several years older than him, even though he still drinks from a bottle. His acting career would be impossible, however, without the guidance of his trainer, Avery Schneider.
Schneider returns to the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival with another four-legged friend after sharing her goat training expertise in the 2011 Glimmerglass production of Annie Get Your Gun. Raised on a small farm in Cherry Valley, New York, she left Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School last year at the age of 16 to attend SUNY Cobleskill, where she continues to study animal science and behavior.
Along with her 10-year-old cousin, Mia Horvath, who is also from Cherry Valley and serves as the goat wrangler, Schneider has been rehearsing with Chopin and his fellow “kid” actor, Jazzy, to prepare the two for their acting debuts. Jazzy, a Nigerian dwarf goat, was born May 1 and is of a miniature breed. Chopin, however, will continue to grow — a goat of his breed typically reaches around 150 pounds. Both goats are used for dairy.
Recently the Gimmerglass Blog caught up with Schneider and her kids for a question-and-answer format:
Has your family always raised animals?
My family has always raised an assortment of animals. I started my goat herd when I was 11. Currently we have cows, goats, geese, a donkey and a horse. We also have cats, dogs and a few other small pets in the house.
Are you in FFA or 4-H? If so, how has this helped in training Chopin?
I am a member of 4-H, and I am currently president of my club, Otsego Dairy Goats. I was first involved in 4-H with dog training. I attended many agility and obedience classes with my dogs, and I am able to use very similar techniques when working with my goats.