Troy Tinker sounds exasperated as he explains why the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions Tour would be of interest to discerning hipsters. It's almost as if his horse sense was tingling, anticipating the question before it was asked.
"I know where this is going," says Tinker, the emcee of the show at America West Arena this weekend. "When you think about our show, it does sound boring, but people come back again and again because they're entertained. You've got to see our show to get it."
Things do appear a bit hokey, at first, as the all-white Lipizzaner stallions are led through "dressage" (a subtly guided series of choreographed maneuvers) by riders clad in cavalry costumes. The rare steeds also reenact the gravity-defying moves that made them the preferred choice of European nobility, both as war horses and status symbols (kind of like the Humvee of yesteryear).
The show is part history lesson, part equestrian ballet, where one particular showstopping move sees the horses gracefully leaping high into the air, kicking out their hind legs (called a "capriole") to the strains of Mozart.
Occasionally the script gets bucked, and Tinker fills in with comedy. "One time, this horse caught his image up in the big Jumbotron and couldn't take his eyes off of himself," he says. "So I made jokes until they could turn the cameras off."
Such preening is expected, as the pampered ponies have packed 'em in for 34 years. But unlike spoiled rock stars, they've never sent Tinker out into the night to score horse tranquilizers or hot-to-trot mares. In fact, this horse cock-blocking is enforced throughout the tour.
"We couldn't have a mare at the show with us because then we'd have a ticket hotter than the WWE," says Tinker. "Those boys would definitely fight it out to see who gets the girl."
Now that would make things edgy. The ponies play as the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions trot into America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, August 15. Tickets are $19.50 to $26.50. Call 480-784-4444 or see www.ticketmaster.com.