Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
What: World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions
When and where: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, Alltel Arena
Tickets: $19.50-$27.50 (discounts for children and seniors) through Ticketmaster, 975-7575 or www.ticketmaster.com
Troy Tinker’s experience with horses growing up was with the usual farm-type equines. But when spectators see him Saturday, Feb. 3, at Alltel Arena, they’ll see him as the expert on describing the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions, the famed steeds saved by Gen. George Patton during World War II and for years the subject of a traditional show for the family. The Lipizzaners return to Alltel Arena for two shows Saturday.
Tinker, who was born in Blytheville, grew up around Vilonia and studied theater in college in Conway, now calls Las Vegas home. He was working as an actor in “King Lear” with Hal Holbrook in Cleveland when White Stallion Productions, the company putting on the Lipizzaner tour, hired him as a master of ceremonies 1990, when the regular emcee had another commitment.
“I went out for three months and they enjoyed my work and I enjoyed the job more than I thought I would,” Tinker said. “They called back and asked me if I’d come back full time, and I did. I’ve left from time to time to work on other things, but I’ve always come back.”
In going on 17 years, Tinker has discovered more than just the fabled history about the Lipizzaners of Vienna. “I’ve learned that they’re all individuals. They are like your human coworkers. They have their own strengths, weaknesses, foibles. There is uniqueness in each and every one. They are an amazing animal.”
Tinker recalled seeing the touring show as a child, and he can relate to that while on the arena floor. What spectators will see, Tinker says, is a perfect partnership of rider and horse. Without flashing lights or explosions typical of most arena productions these days, the Lipizzaner show is simple beauty, he said.
“It’s something you rarely see these days, and so beautiful to watch,” Tinker said, “And I also think the audience walks away wanting to share that with their kids, and it becomes a family tradition.”
Tinker’s job, he says, is to help the audience better understand the horse. “We’re all familiar with riding Western saddle, and this style can seem pretty high-falutin’. I try to take that mystique out of it. I try not to club them over the head with it, but make the whole equestrian ballet concept approachable by the average Joe.”
The 49-year-old Tinker, whose son and daughter are in college in Arkansas, will have extra time during the tour — which stops in Fort Smith on Friday — to see family and friends. He misses acting, though, and the tour only stops for one month out of 12, reducing his theater opportunities. “I love the steady paycheck, so you do what you do,” he said.