The Jousting Life

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Remembrance of Duke -- A Great Jousting Horse

A few days ago, the sport of jousting lost one of its beloved horses due to complications of cancer. Duke was a big beautiful Belgian, owned and trained to joust by Steve Weems. Many people involved in the sport of jousting will miss this wonderful horse.

In December, 2011, Steve Weems wrote:
"After almost 12 years of loyalty, I am sad to announce that Duke has been retired from Jousting this week. He has been one of the most solid horses I have ever had the pleasure of riding. He came to me in 1999 from a guy up in Angels Camp, CA who used him for nothing else but hauling his beer kegs to campouts. He had never had any kind of medical care and most likely no foot or hoof maintenance and he was 10 years old.

After bucking off Patrick Lambke and breaking Patricks leg, I figured Duke was a good judge of character and that he should come home with me. After living in my care for seven months he did his first Joust in a Azure Cross show at the Kearny Renaissance Faire when Beltain Lamed up. Duke was flawless and has not faltered a single time in the list ever.

He became known as the automatic transmission because he was so dependable and would more so than not carry the less experienced knights down the list. From 2002 to 2005 he was the quintessential Gold horse as part of the gold team of Knights of Avalon. After that he even put up with Patrick Lambke during performances. In 2005 I took him to the Sheridan Hughes Tournament in Calgary where he received the award for "Best Horse". He has performed in a couple of movie shoots and tv appearances. One was "Americas Most Wanted" where he carried a 12 year old actress through banks of fog to his marks. The Director said he was the best animal she had ever worked with.

This year at approx. 24 years old, Duke traveled over 4000 miles and carried several knights down the list for "The Knights of Mayhem". He finished his career doing what he does best. Being loyal, Dedicated and Dependable. He is now with "Above and Beyond Ordinary" taking care of Handicapped and disabled children and receiving top care so that he can finish out his years in comfort." -- Steve Weems

"To Duke,
Never Faltering, Ever Steady, Always waited patiently at the end of the list until I was ready. You were the heart that keep me warm with your soft cheek against my face and your calming breath on my neck, and you always watched for me to show you what was next. We put our faith in each other, and though that we gained strength & trust, building a bond such as no other. Now that you have taken your leave with an eternal rest, I will always remember you as one of the best.
May you rest in peace my most dedicated Friend, Companion, and Partner" -- Steve Weems

"...Give angels wings to horses here
Who tarry on and show no fear
No sabre, shot nor cannons roar
Should still the hearts who can’t give more

Lay down the steeds in pastures green
Where smoke and fire are never seen
Quiet ears and eyes that know such hell
Till in your heavens they may dwell..."
-- excerpt from "A Calvary Soldier's Prayer" by Robin Shields, 6th Ohio Calvary
(posted by Jeff Cavazos in regards to Duke's passing)

"Here is Duke, loved this horse" -- Talon Mckenna

"Oh, what a loss for the jousting world. He was a good horse." -- Mary Taylor

"I was a quintain for Duke's very first public joust. And I think Weemsies too. I dunno who was more green broke at the time. But I'll always love Duke for trying so hard to avoid running down the skinny kid with a ring in his hand. Condolences to his family and riders who loved him." -- Maeve Kelly

"Steve Weems rescued Duke and not only gave him a second chance, he gave him a life! Duke traveled all over North America jousting and retired with teaching mentally challenged kids how to ride and have a good time. Eleven years of blood sweat and beers later, it is an honor to have ridden him, been his friend, walked him in the middle of the night because of colic, and he is, and always will be a friend." -- Jay Thompson

"Duke was the first horse that I befriended when I came to The Knights of Avalon. I loved him. We seemed to have a bond. Thanks Duke for making me understand you and the others. I will always love you!" -- Nancy Vasquez

If you knew Duke, feel free to comment about your experiences with him below. If you have other pictures of Duke that you would like to have posted on this page, just send me the link, and I will add them.


  1. I came to know Duke in 2007. I became a member of the Knights of Avalon as horse help. He was a gentle giant for someone who has never groomed horses before. He helped me under stand him as well as the others. We seemed to bond well together and I seemed to gravitate towards his care when I was around him. I always tried to make him pretty. He let me ride him to back stage and up to the corral. Many times I watched him joust and see how much fun he had in the tilt. I can't imagine him gone. I learned so much from his silent behavior. I will always love you, Duke. You will always hold a special place in my now broken heart.

  2. a wonderful tribute to Duke....the horses are the true stars of jousting.

  3. Oh no! Steve I am most saddened by this news. I was in the arena that day when Duke threw Patrick. We all know he had it coming.

    Thank you for showing the world what a rock star he was!


    Kathy (Hansen) Rogers

  4. Oh no! Steve I am most saddened by this news. I was in the arena that day when Duke threw Patrick. We all know he had it coming.

    Thank you for showing the world what a rock star he was!


    Kathy (Hansen) Rogers