A fixed camera positioned on the edge of an outdoor arena captures ringmaster and circus proprietor Philip Wirth rehearsing with his trick pony, Earl Dudley. The pony is led around the arena on a horsedrawn platform as Wirth instructs it to perform various tricks including bowing, jumping, turning, kneeling, sitting and rearing. Circus wagons and a small crowd of circus employees can be seen in the background. At the end of the act, Earl Dudley is led out of the arena and Wirth bows to the camera before following behind.
In this clip, a dapper Philip Wirth – dressed in suit with tails, whip in hand – displays some of his talent for training horses. Wirth was an accomplished ringmaster and, despite the footage being in soft focus making details difficult to distinguish, his skills can be seen clearly here. Wirth confidently instructs Earl Dudley in a series of spectacular tricks during what appears to be a rehearsal performed especially for the camera. Because the camera is positioned at the front edge of the arena, at a safe distance from the action, we cannot easily make out Wirth’s facial features. However, his presence and his presentation are captured in this rare moving image record of one of Australia’s pre-eminent travelling showmen and founder of the iconic Wirth’s Circus. Wirth would have been around 60 at the time this was filmed but, as was the case with many family circus performers, he continued performing and travelling well into his later years.