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Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Marshal: David Hilliard

Marshal:  David Hilliard

This royal entourage rides Pure Spanish Horses - also known as Andalusians.

While almost all of the royal subjects at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament stand on their own two feet, the most celebrated members of the Kingdom are best known for their trot, gallop and canter. And in the new Medieval Times production, audiences will be dazzled by authentic jousting and equine presentations that would not be possible without four special breeds of horses. Spanish Andalusian horse stallions, Quarter Horses, Friesians and Menorcan – from the Mediterranean island for which it is named – complete the mix of horses at each of Medieval Times’ nine North American Castles. When they are not performing gravity-defying jumps and stylish walks to delight Castle guests, behind-the-scenes the horses receive special treatment fit for a King.

Each Medieval Times Castle features horse stalls lined with special-design floor padding, a $1,000-per-stall luxury that’s easy on the hooves. The stalls also feature accoutrements such as pressure-activated bowls, which flow with fresh water when the horses need a drink. The horses dine on the finest alfalfa-rich hay trucked in from regional farms, and the horses’ ground transportation for special off-site events is like a limousine ride in padded, air-conditioned trailers that haul up to eight horses at a time. During the shows, each step of the 1,300-pound horse defies gravity as delicate and precise movements are timed to the musical notes of the new Medieval Times soundtrack, creating the graceful equestrian ballet that is dressage. The 241-acre Medieval Times Chapel Creek Ranch in the rolling hills of Sanger, Texas, which opened in 1991, serves as an oasis for the horses of the realm where almost all of Medieval Times’ horses got their start.

Since the ranch opened, the company has become the North American leader in preserving the thousand-year-old pure bloodline of the Andalusian. Revered as the purebred Spanish horse, Andalusians have been the preferred mount for Royalty and Knights since the 11th century. The horses were valued for their glorious physique, even temperament, agility in battle and ability to carry the great weight of an armed champion in a full suit of armor. The horses are bred and trained to become stars at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. In total, the Castles and ranch are home for more than 300 Andalusians. As weanlings, the horses are introduced to halters and lead ropes. They are petted and brushed and grow accustomed to being in close proximity to people. The Andalusians are also implanted with a microchip to assure positive identification the rest of their lives. The systematic tracking of each horse assures the continued purity of the breed. After several years in the spotlight, the magnificent steeds “retire” to live out their lives in comfort and serenity at the Texas ranch.

Medieval Times is a North American leader in preserving the thousand-year-old pure bloodline of Andalusian horses, a Spanish breed served for royalty in the 11th century. In 1991, Medieval Times opened its 241-acre Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, Texas, where the horses are safely bred, cared for, and trained for use in the company’s nine castles. What do horse breeding and the number one dinner attraction in the world have in common? The answer is - much more than anyone would think. Medieval Times is an exciting evening of quality, family entertainment based upon the glory of the Middle Ages. And, of course, a major part of that time period was knights on horseback fighting for the honor of their king.

Since there are nine Medieval Times locations throughout North America, and each location keeps 20-30 Andalusian horses available for the many shows performed each week, it made perfect sense for Medieval Times to start breeding their own horses. In 1992, the company began breeding at the 241-acre Medieval Times Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, Texas. The first four years of the horses lives are spent at the Chapel Creek Ranch. During this time, they are prepared for their future roles as featured performers in the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament production. The Andalusians, known for their glorious physique and noble temperament, will not only be trained to demonstrate the most advanced levels of classical dressage, but will also be the mount of knights during the show’s exciting medieval jousting tournament. Interestingly, not every horse bred at the Chapel Creek Ranch automatically moves on to be featured at Medieval Times.

Medieval Times is looking for a star in a horse. The horse has to have a certain presence and a certain level of beauty and charisma. Just any horse won’t do. As weanlings, the horses are introduced to halters and lead ropes. They are petted and brushed to help them grow accustomed to being in close proximity to people. The Andalusians are also implanted with a microchip to assure positive identification for the rest of their lives. At age two, the horses are old enough to begin simple training. This first training includes lunging, work on the long reins, and introduction to the saddle. At four years of age, basic training is completed and the horses are transported to a Medieval Times location. At Medieval Times, a Master Trainer teaches the horses advance level classical dressage and life as a feature performer begins. Since the preparation from birth to show takes many years, the Chapel Creek Ranch is an ideal location in the central United States from which to supply the nine North American dinner attraction locations. Once the horses are ready to retire around age sixteen, they are returned to the Chapel Creek Ranch to retire among the rolling fields of the ranch.

King Don Carlos – Long live the King! Our liege. Our lord. His majesty, the King, Don Carlos! He bears the scepter and wears the crown! His kingdom thrives while he sits on the throne and they know no harm will come to them. He desires peace, but will stop at nothing to keep his kingdom and family safe. Herald of the North – Herald to the King of the North, Lord Ulrick. Princess Catalina – There’s none fairer than the fairest lady in all the realm – Princess Catalina. Lord Chancellor – Introduces the Tournament of Knights, where the King’s guests will behold incredible feats of skill and daring performed by the brave champions who hail from every corner of King Don Carlos’ realm.

Master of Horse – The kingdom is home to a prized collection of magnificent purebred Spanish stallions that are high-spirited, courageous and tempered for battle. Castle Trumpeteers The King's Mounted Guard Six Knights of the Realm Medieval Times’ founders first launched their unique idea with a dinner attraction on the Spanish island of Majorca in 1973. The choice of locations was fortuitous. The region is fiercely proud of its rich medieval heritage, and just as fiercely passionate about the magnificent Spanish Andalusian horses native to the Iberian Peninsula.

The imaginative new entertainment spot was based on the true medieval tradition of royal families inviting guests to a festival and feast to watch Knights compete on horseback. The dinner attraction’s authentic display of classic equestrian skills astride snowy Andalusians and medieval pageantry, coupled with a sumptuous feast, quickly became a success. Four years later in 1977, Medieval Times, as it is dubbed today, opened in Benidorm, Spain. As Medieval Times’ popularity grew in its native country, the first North American property opened in Kissimmee, Florida in December 1983. Professional production and training staff from Spain brought with them the architectural flourishes, authentic costumes and weaponry that had become so popular in Europe. The U.S. response was immediate and overwhelming. Families, tourists and groups of all sizes descended on the Castle, and a new dynasty had begun. With the resounding success of the Florida Castle, plans were immediately developed to expand the company on this new continent.

Eight more Medieval Times Castles opened across North America in rapid succession; Buena Park in Southern California in 1986; Lyndhurst, New Jersey near New York City in 1990; Schamburg, Illinois near Chicago in 1991; Dallas, Texas in 1992; Toronto, Canada in 1993; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1995; Hanover, Maryland in 2003 and Atlanta, Georgia in 2006. As a company, Medieval Times enjoys an exceptional record of employee retention with a considerable percentage of its workforce holding a 10-plus year background with the organization. A collective effort of the nine castles, Medieval Times has entertained more than 52 million noble guests.

Authentic medieval-style costumes handmade by craftsmen at the Medieval Times costume operation in Dallas, Texas.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is North America’s longest running and most popular dinner attraction. Guests experience an evening of quality, family entertainment inspired by 11th century history; and witness live jousting, swordplay, horsemanship and falconry. Guests are taken back in time and encouraged to cheer for one of six “Knights of the Realm,” named after historic regions of medieval Spain, while feasting on a four-course banquet served in true medieval, pre-silverware fashion.

RIDERS: Davd Hilliard - Group Marshall All knights performing at Medieval Times hold a two-decade tradition of beginning as squires, enduring up to 375 hours of rigorous training before achieving knighthood. The knights fight with dangerous titanium and steel weapons and require hours of intense daily practice with trainers and horses prior to going before a live audience. Knightly competitions, contests and duels enacted during a performance are authentically-choreographed to match the medieval traditions of knighthood.

Updated on: 12/6/2012 5:21:33 PM

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