TODAY was my last day on this huge job… so I’m soon going to be F-R-E-E! Thank you for letting me re-run posts during this crazy time. The post below originally ran in September of 2010.
Being from the West Coast, I never even knew there was such a thing as Tournament Jousting. And, if I did, I’d have the impression that it was those guys dressed up like King Arthur who carry long sticks and try to knock each other off of horses.
But, I’d be wrong… Tournament Jousting is actually ring jousting or ‘golden ring grab with a stick’ for you Merry-Go-Round enthusiasts.
I had no idea…!
Let’s begin with the basics.
The idea of the game is to run your horse under 8 seconds, through the three arches and collect the three (tiny) rings with your stick which looks like a pool cue. The rings are hanging steadfastly off of steel rods under each arch. The ground should be flat but I hear there is no such thing as a truly flat course, especially when galloping towards a 1″ ring… The rings are all 6’9″ off of the ground, so you might consider your size and the size of your horse when you attempt this.
There are several classes so that you can win at any level. The rules are fair so no one cheats and everyone is fairly safe – as safe as anyone is on a galloping horse through circle arches. And, you get prizes.
THE MOST FUN
As I looked through all the pages about ring jousting, I got a chuckle from the names of some of the Champions. Obviously, some people really have fun with it. You can pick any name you want and then emblazon it across your logo shirt. Here are a few of my favs.
Maid of Milkpails, Knight of Bean’s Settlement, Knight of Needmore, Lady of Just for Fun, Knight of Possum Hollow, Knight of Little Red Wagon, Maid of Bet Your Booties, Knight of Old Fields, Knight of Mystery, Knight of Turkey Trot, Knight of Phil’s Signs, Knight of Little Stuff,and my personal favorite: The Knight of Silvery Moon (don’t ya just want to skip when you hear that?).
OK, so one of the best parts for me, would be picking my Maid name. Maid in the Shade? Maid to Ordur, Maid ju Look… I could go on forever!
WHAT I ALSO LIKE
What I also like is that there are more guys doing this than girls!!! What type of horse event has that besides rodeo? What a GREAT way to get Dad involved with the horses!
WHAT TYPE OF HORSE?
Well, according to the material, you can use any horse as long as they have an even canter and a level head. Here is an excerpt from the ‘what kind of a horse?’ paragraph on the National Jousting Association website:
“Experienced jousts on the circuit today concur on several desired characteristics: a level-headed, mid-size to small horse with an extremely smooth canter work best. A smooth gait allows riders to feel comfortable to raise their stirrups and assume a position similar to that of a jockey. This allows the motion of the horse to be absorbed by the riders’ knees and lower leg. The upper body becomes virtually motionless. This position, combined with a steady hand greatly increases the rider’s likelihood of spearing the rings with his lance.”
What I found very interesting were the famous jousting horses. The most famous jousting horses are two Tennessee Walkers named Misty and Comet. The Enfield family bought Misty so that the kids could learn to joust… Well, you can probably see where this is going… Misty became INCREDIBLE at it and Dad took her over. But, luckily, Misty birthed Comet who was also equally skilled. It is said that Comet thundered down the alley without ever noticing any distractions. He consistently put the riders directly under the rings.
Both horses were on the circuit from 1966 – 1986. Sadly, Comet died of old age in 1996 and Misty soon followed. However, during their reign of jousting supremacy, the Enfield family won many titles. (Dad) Leon alone won four National Championships on Misty. Comet carried Leon’s son, Bob to a Maryland State Championship title. Son, Ken, and daughter, Linda, also competed on these two incredible jousting horses. And what is interesting is that Misty stood only 14’2. She was known for rapid starts and a very easy canter. So, booyah for the TWH! Who knew?!
Another famous jousting horse is the Shetland, Stormy. You see, kids have the same height requirement (6’9″) so there are no breaks for little ponies. However, Stormy was so solid at the canter, her 8 year old rider won the Novice National Jousting Competition over 63 other riders including a 17 year old boy and a 63 year old man. Ha! so there for the little guys!
The last famous jousting horse I’m listing here is Jasper, a black and white Paint. He was such a strong competitor, that he would listen for the announcer to call his owner’s Knight name (The Knight of Beauty) and would false start all the time. So, his owner had to trick the horse into not listening to the announcer. In any event, they won several National Championships together.
WHAT TO WEAR
Well, just about anything but not medieval garb. The photos showed the same attire anyone would wear when riding. I think it depends more upon your comfort level and the weather.
The gear is whatever, as well. However, I do see more people riding saddleseat type of english saddles. I think the flat seats are easier to balance when you have your feet up like a jockey. I don’t know for sure but I did see many high stirrups like the jockey and the polo player. So, I would imagine you’d want a saddle that lets you stand securely — or as securely as possible when standing in a saddle on a galloping horse…
The jousting stick (called a LANCE) is shaped like a pool cue. However, the weights vary quite a bit. Women seem to like lightweight poles (1 -2 lbs) but they tend to sway in the wind. Some men prefer lances as weighty as 12 – 15 lbs. It is all preference.
The kids have their own divisions which are not intimidating and keep them wanting more. They have no time limits and can walk through the course. They can even be on a lead-line in the tiny divisions. Everyone gets a ribbon. It isn’t until they move up that they have to ride above a walk in competition.
LEARNING FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
If you live in the Maryland area, you are in luck! It seems that most of the clubs are around there. They have lessons and it all seems relatively inexpensive to join and play. It also seems like a great family thing. In all the photos you see families and picnics and dogs and you name it!
From my stand point, not only is this a fun family thing, but your horse can get a lot of desensitizing at these events.
I don’t even know how to spell that word. Basically, what I mean is the fluff and pompenstance that happens during the ceremonies.
They still keep the medieval theme going up front. I think some of the key players bring out their Knight suits for the opening ceremony. But, that’s about it. You don’t have to worry about women in boobilicous outfits, or men selling grog while gnawing on a turkey drumstick. It feels like this sport is more about family fun with you and your horse.
NO CLUBS ON THE WEST COAST
I could find no clubs on the West Coast. Sure, if you want to shoot off of your horse, take him to the O-K Corral or have a Civil War reenactment, CA is your place. But, if you are wanting to Ring Joust, you’ll meet with tumbleweeds. And, sadly, it takes two clubs to have a tournament so we need two to start around here. But, for you folks back East, here is a link to the Ring Jousting Clubs.
NOW FOR A BIT OF THAT OTHER KIND OF JOUSTING
OK, well here is what IS on the West Coast. Right here between LA and San Diego is a town called Romona. There, in Romona, is the typical Jousting that we all think about when we hear the word. Yup, here you have the chest thumping, stab your heart out kind of jousting. I’ve added a video of their jousting tournament/playday. Also, here is their website to learn from the master.
For me, the Ring Jousting seems like a more equal opportunity sport since the whole family can do it, your horse doesn’t have to get his face ripped off during faux battle and no one gets their eye poked out… And, it seems a lot less serious than regular jousting, which I like.
On a philosophical note, the Ring Joust does seems like a primal thing for mankind. Maybe the fulfillment in ring joust comes from FINALLY being able to master our hunting instinct of eye to hand coordination. Or, maybe we just like our toys… After all, we started the basic game at a very young age…