Tulio delivers horse power with avian support at Corfe Castle

June 2, 2013

MORTAL COMBAT: The Black Raven and the fair maiden’s love interest battle it out.

In Combat

EAGLE-EYED: This Golden Eagle, part of the falconry team, keeps a view on proceedings.

Eddie the Eagle

KNIGHT TIME: The Black Raven – aka Jonathan Marshall – takes part in the jousting concert.

Jonathan Marshall

SUPPORTING CAST: The fair maiden, and the jester look on as the jousting tournament unfolds.

Princess & Jester

HORSE SENSE: Jonathan Marshall and Tulio choreograph their moves in time to the music.

Horse trick

GOOD GUY: The fair maiden’s favourite knight – riding Tango – prepares for battle as the squire looks on.

 Gawain

 

 

HISTORICAL costumes, knights locking horns for the hand of a fair maiden and swooping falcons enticed crowds at one of Dorset’s iconic landmarks.

Jonathon Marshall and his Medieval Falconry and Jousting Show is performing in the grounds of Corfe Castle for the next four Saturdays in June and the act claims to be only one of its kind in the world.

Knights in ornate armour, squires, jesters, a maiden, a squire, two horses called Tulio and Tango and an assortment of raptors were the stars of the show.

The castle is set up as a wonderful backdrop when the dastardly black Raven (Jonathon) sets to take a pretty young girl from the hands of a potential suitor as a tale unfolds of chivalry, bravery and good versus evil.

Years of experience has helped Jonathon acquire the specialist skills to work the horses with the falcons to the sounds of familiar musical film scores, including the sound track to the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves which starred Kevin Costner , Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman.

Reared in the Lancashire countryside, Jonathon cut his teeth as an apprentice falconer in the early 1980s and after leaving school, he joined the Bob Haddon falconry display team at Windsor Safari Park and this enabled him to develop the added skill of explaining his art to a public audience.

As well as being on horseback, Jonathan also has a skilled hang glider and microlight aircraft pilot, and this enabled him to sky dive with peregrine falcons and paraglide with red kites.

The first part of show saw Jonathan show his riding skills on Tulio accompanying to music. Tulio is a  Lusitano, a bull-fighting horse from Portugal, and he has starred in the BBC series, Merlin. The act was recently profiled on the countryside series, Country File. Tulio and Jonathan would have choreographed these steps for days.

Speaking on Countryfile last year, Jonathon said: “Quinn is a male Peregrine falcon. He is a beautiful, bird, I bred him myself.  I have had since he was an egg.  He was a very good-looking egg, but he is even better looking as an adult.

“Falconry used to be done on horseback as they didn’t have Land Rovers. Horses at that time were very much part of everyday life and this particular breed of horse was very good with falconry, they are very quick agile, quick on their feet, manoeuvrable. These horses are about the best and still are.”

Whilst showing some amazing moves that involved Tulio rearing on his hind legs and “kneeling” down to acknowledge the crowd, Jonathon let loose Denver the falcon and Quinn the peregrine falcon over the skies of Corfe Castle.

Unlike Tulio, Denver and Quinn had to be tempted with treats in the form of a dead chick to return to his hand. Wood pigeons nearby scattered in opposite directions when they saw the magnificent birds-of-prey dancing in the early evening sunshine.

The assembled heads of the crowds looked like they were following a ball at a tennis match at the French Open or Wimbledon as they followed the flight path of Denver and Quinn.

Jonathan encouraged Quinn to try a daring stunt swooping down from a great height through Tulio’s legs at speed and this received a rapturous applause.

A mandatory audience participation section saw the young members of the audience take part in a hobby-horse race and be extras in the jousting story.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bee Wigham June 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Hi Matt,

Both Jonathan and I would like to thank you for such a super write up.

Please do come and see us again at Corfe this week or next and introduce yourself to us.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

With thanks and best wishes,

Bee & Jonathan.

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