When a fifty-year old man is willing to wear a paper crown and is excited to get front row tickets because his 47-year-old girlfriend wants to see Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament horse show, you know he’s a keeper. And that’s how I spent my birthday this year: cheering on the Blue Night, loving the Andalusian Stallions and noticing close up that the western style riding these ‘knights’ showcase during the performance requires spurs to get the Quarter Horses galloping from a near stop.
I admit it: I love going to Medieval Times (with or without kids) and have done so several times in Toronto (the only Canadian venue) and once in Orlando, Florida (part of a medieval village). If I ever get a chance to visit the company’s Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, Texas, I’m taking it.
The show is a balance of good-versus-evil narrative, engrossing sword fights, physical tricks and impressive horsemanship. Sure, there are fair maidens in ornate costumes, regal kings and queens, valiant knights astride horses and the drama of live (albeit choreographed) jousting tournaments, but it’s the horses that are most compelling.
Six Brave Knights, otherwise known as long-haired young men looking for a fun job, canter horses through a series of tests, hit each others’ shields with lances and even jump and roll off trotting horses to give the show its drama. Most of the ‘fighting’ takes place on the ground, but the riding is gusty and the pre-training required, as one knight told me at a meet-and-greet after the show, “is a willingness to do it.” Many of these guys never rode horses before they started training here.
My favourite part, however, requires years of perfected skill and that’s the synchronized dressage riding astride the majestic white purebred Spanish Andalusians, along with the demonstrations of these beautiful animals’ abilities to leap and kick in the manner developed centuries ago to defend the rider in the battle fields. At least one of these beautiful animals is on view before the show, but through a window into his stall, and he’s a bit camera shy.
Dinner is served during the show and in the style of the day – no cutlery. (Note: if you pre-order a vegetarian meal you get a fork.) Otherwise grab the ribs and chicken by the bone and keep your eyes on the show. It makes for a campy jovial date night, complete with horses. And what’s more romantic than a pageantry of majestic white equine?
(Read about other equine events: Maine Event and Royal Winter Fair)