The Jousting Life

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Joust for Fun -- The Physics of Jousting

Who knew that jousting was actually a research tool for medieval physicists?

This comic is from "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal" by Zach Weiner.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Good Riding is Essential to Good Jousting

Not too long ago, some jousters got a message from a young man inquiring about learning to joust, he ended his message with,"...and don't tell me that first I need to learn how to ride a horse." Everyone in the jousting community got a good laugh out of that. Attempting to learn how to joust without first knowing how to ride, and ride well, is like attempting aerial combat without first learning how to fly a plane. Of course, jousters don't fly planes...

Jousters ride horses, and an extremely well-trained and exceptionally tolerant horse will carry you down the lyst even if you just sit on his back like a sack of potatoes... a few times. Until he realizes that you have little to no control over him and he can do whatever he wants. If you don't know how to ride a horse, once the horse decides he no longer wants to run down the lyst of his own free will, you will no longer be able to joust. Good jousters don't depend on the horse's training and willingness in order to get them down the lysts...

Jousters ride horses. They do not simply sit on something they expect to consistently carry them down the lyst like a mindless machine. Horses, unlike computers, cannot be programmed once and expected to perform the same function forever. A horse that is badly ridden will require continuous re-training. If you cannot ride well enough to keep your horse in training, you will be dependent on others to train and continually re-train your horse. And finally...

Jousters ride horses, and they know that even the best-trained and properly ridden horses do not perform as consistently as machines. Horses are living beings who behave differently at different times, and those who ride them need to be able to read and respond to how the horse is behaving that day. Horses perform best if they have a competent rider directing them, thus jousters perform best if they are competent riders.

A true jouster is first a true equestrian.

Jousting horse Ziggy (photo by Jay Baum)

It doesn't really matter what style of riding you become adept in before learning to joust. Western and English style riding can both be used as the basis for jousting. However, English riding is somewhat better suited for mounted combat. All of the fancy movements and almost invisible cues used in classical dressage were originally developed to be used on the battlefield.

Charlie Andrews, probably the best jouster in America, has ridden dressage at the Prix St. George level, which is only a few steps below the level that Olympic equestrians compete at. Most of the jousters in Europe train in dressage before taking up jousting. In the upcoming "Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel", one of the most prestigious jousting tournaments in the world today, all of the horses "are trained to the highest level of haute école dressage" as well as having specific joust training. Thus all of the jousters competing at Sankt Wendel are required to be experienced in riding upper level dressage.

This does not mean that all jousters need to be capable of competing in upper level dressage (or upper level reining if you ride Western). Charlie Andrews and the jousters competing at Sankt Wendel are some of the best jousters in the world. You do not need to be able to ride at their level in order to joust, any more than you need to be an Olympic level athlete in order to participate in any other sport. However, in order to begin jousting, you do need to be at least a solidly competent rider, and if you want to compete at the higher levels, you need to be more than just competent.

Highly respected dressage rider and trainer Tina Walsh, who instructs several contemporary competitive jousters and who taught classes on riding at the recent Chivalric Martial Arts International symposium, suggested this video as an example of the level of riding that jousters should aspire to.

Of course, this level of horsemanship(or really any kind of competent horsemanship) cannot be achieved easily or cheaply. A fact which has not changed in hundreds of years.

"Honors on horseback cannot be achieved without efforts, without courage and without money" -- Dom Duarte, Portugal, 1346.

So, if you want to joust and joust well, you have to make sacrifices in other areas of your life. You must choose to spend money that could be spent on other things on proper training. You must choose to spend time that could be spent in other ways in diligent practice. You must first make the effort to become a good rider. Then, and only then, can you become a good jouster.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Random Pic

American jouster Steve Hemphill must ride in the back with the saddles and the tack on the way to the Verneuil-sur-Avre medieval faire and jousting tournament in Normandy, France.

Photo by Matt Daniel

Feel free to suggest creative captions in the comments section.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chat Live with Rod Walker of "Full Metal Jousting"

If you live in Australia, A&E tv has set up a chance for you to chat live with Rod Walker, the coach for the black team on "Full Metal Jousting".

Click on the image above to be taken to the chat site.

"Join us for an exclusive live chat with Black Team Aussie coach Rod Walker. Rod will be online after the show on Wednesday May 30 at 9.30pm (AEST) to answer all your questions about the show, jousting and anything else you want to know! So stop by and join in on the conversation."

For those of you who don't live in Australia, It's not clear whether or not you will be allowed onto the chat, but AEST (the New South Wales/Sydney area) is UTC+10. Here is a link to a time zone converter, so that you can tell when 9:30pm AEST is where you live.

The current time in Sydney Australia is:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wyvern Oaks Talks About "Lysts on the Lake 2012"

If you regularly check the blogroll on the sidebar, you have probably already read this post, but for those who haven't...

Though the author of Wyvern Oaks no longer jousts herself, she has helped a number of people learn to ride and to joust, including her husband. She is still actively involved in the sport and frequently squires for he husband and sometimes for others. She also works as judge, ground crew, mounted squire, etc... She willingly does whatever needs doing.

Her husband, several of the people she helped get started on horses, and many of her friends competed in this year's "Lysts on the Lakes". Here are the first few paragraphs from the post about her experiences during Lysts:

"Wyvern Oaks: And then there was JOUSTING!!!!"
"Despite the rather impressive storm on Thursday night, the first day of jousting ended up being quite nice. In the morning was the beginner joust, which Cash was supposed to take part in... only his rider's saddle slipped on the first run, and that was pretty much the end of that plan. Cash can be... shall we say... speedy down the lane, and after that mishap it became apparent that retiring would be the better part of valor.

(No, nobody bothered to inform Cash that 24-year-olds are supposed to be "old and slow." Somehow he missed that memo, I think.)

Next up was the Skill at Arms. These are feats of skill that knights used in medieval times to train for jousting and fighting - for example, hitting a quintain, slicing cabbages on posts, or throwing spears at a target. The hubby rode Red for this, since he's quite maneuverable and easier to rate speed-wise than Saga is. As usual, Red was a star and hubby did quite well.

That afternoon was the first round of jousting...." Read more

Most, but not all, of the competitors at Lysts on the Lake 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nice TV News Video of Jousting Tournament at Blacktown Medieval Fayre

This news video covers the Blacktown Medieval Fayre in Sydney, Australia, and features the Jousting Tournament hosted by Full Tilt Joust Team. There are brief interviews with Rod Walker of "Full Metal Jousting" and jouster Andrew McKinnon.

Video from Fox News

If the embedded video is not working, you can follow this link to see the video.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Charlie Andrews Wins More Than Just Another Tournament at "Lysts on the Lake 2012"

(*Sorry for the delay in posting. I had to wait until I got the official results.*)

“Lysts on the Lake 2012” was held May 11 – 13 in Taylor, Texas, USA. Jouster Steve Hemphill, creator of A'Plaisance, Ltd, produced this international jousting tournament which included a total of 39 competitors from 6 different countries. The tournament consisted of four competitions: 30 participants competed in the Joust a'Plaisance, 23 in the Melee a'Cheval, 29 the Mounted Skill at Arms(MSA) and all participants were considered for the Award of Honour.

Steve Hemphill and most, but not all, of the Lysts competitors (photo by Pamela Morgan)

Although not yet confirmed by the International Jousting League, "Lysts on the Lake 2012" will probably take the place of “Lysts on the Lake 2011” as the largest competitive jousting tournament in modern times. (To see a simple list of winners, skip to the bottom of this post.)

Video of a few jousting passes edited together by a fan.

Video by dsquard7

Jousters came from all over the world to compete in this year's "Lysts on the Lake". Many came from the USA of course, but there were also jousters from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France and Norway. Some of the competitors showed up early to take part in the Chivalric Martial Arts International symposium (CMAI) that took place during the three days leading up to the tournament. Other competitors were the instructors for some of the various classes offered, including Luke Binks, Theresa Wendland, Scott Wilson and Frederic Piraux(who is also the head of the International Jousting League).

Luke Binks teaching a class on jousting

On the third and last night of of the CMAI, during the final jousting practice before the tournament began, there was a terrible storm. A tornado warning had been issued, and several people believed that they heard tornado sirens go off. The horses were turned loose in the covered arena since that was the safest place for them, and while a few brave souls stayed to take care of the horses, everyone else took shelter in the cinder block bathroom buildings. (There are two previous articles about this frightening experience.)

"There was a point, when all of the horses were in the arena and we were breaking up the horse fights that I turned around and there was a flood of people coming out of the safety of the restrooms to help with the horses. At that point, nobody knew that we were safe. They just knew that there were horses that needed held and calmed. Talk about an amazing bunch of people." -- Robert Welch

Although there was no actual tornado, there were winds clocked at more than 60 mph that knocked down the tilt fence, blew various pieces of equipment around and knocked down several participants' tents. Once the weather let up, everyone worked together to safely return horses to their stalls, restore the arena as much as possible and help those whose tents had come down. Many of the competitors stayed up late that night and arrived early the next day to help the staff, ground crew and volunteers get everything set up again so that the tournament could go on as scheduled.

The Mounted Skill at Arms

The tournament began on Friday with the first half of the Mounted Skill at Arms (MSA) competition. The Second half of the MSA was held Sunday morning. MSA consists of five smaller competitions: Tilting at Rings, The Quintain, Thrown Spear, Cut and Thrust and Ground Target(aka Pig Sticking). There were 29 participants who competed in the various aspects of the MSA. One of the most memorable was Robin Daniel who, when she missed sticking the “pig” with her spear, dismounted, wrestled the "pig" into submission and stabbed it repeatedly with her dagger.

Robin Daniels stabs the "pig" with her dagger (photo by Pamela Morgan)

However, the winner of the MSA was Jeffrey Basham on his horse Pooh Bear.

Jeffrey Basham on Pooh Bear skewers all three rings (photo by Pamela Morgan)

The second through sixth place winners were: 2nd Frederic Piraux on Ladybug, 3rd David Young on Boccaccio, 4th Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister, 5th Xavier Fauvel on Peaches and 6th Andre Renier on Riley.

The Melee a'Cheval

Saturday morning started with the Melee a'Cheval. This style of mounted melee has been compared to demolition derby on horseback – though the riders take MUCH better care of their horses, than the drivers do of their cars. In fact, striking a horse instead of its rider immediately disqualifies any competitor. The rest of the rules are simple. The competitors all take the field against one another and fight until they feel they have received five solid hits. Although there are mounted marshals who act to some extent as referees, this competition depends mainly on each competitor's own honour to withdraw from the field once they have been defeated.

There were 23 competitors in the Melee at “Lysts on the Lake 2012”. Sean Gulick outfought all other competitors and won the Melee a'Cheval on Red, a 14.2 hand Missouri Fox Trotter(though according to Red, he is a "Feerless War Pony") that had no trouble facing down the other horses despite being one of shortest horses in the tournament.

Luc Petillot on Earl(left) is struck by Sean Gulick on Red(right)(photo by AzulOx)

The second through sixth place winners were: 2nd Jim Myers on Moose, 3rd Scott Wilson on Peaches, 4th Dustin Stephens on Sampson, 5th Dave Wise on Pandora and 6th Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister. Theresa Wendland came in 7th place and was the highest ranking female competitor in the Melee. She was riding Cash, a 15.1 hand 24 year old paint. Both Red and Cash are trained by Jen Jobst, Sean Gulick's wife.

The Joust a'Plaisance

There were 30 competitors in the Joust a'Plaisance, which was fought as a modified challenge tournament, rather than a bracketed elimination tournament. Each competitor got the chance to hold the field as tenan and face four challengers (venans). Each competitor also played the part of challenger at various times throughout the tournament. Each jousting pass could earn a total of 4 points. However, since some competitors ran a few more passes than others, the overall score for jousting was determined by dividing each competitor's total points by the number of passes they made. Therefore the highest possible score would be a perfect 4.0.

Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister (and Dale Walter's rather green horse Baron for a few passes) came closest to earning that perfect 4.0. He earned 4 points on all but four of his passes, and on those passes, he earned 3's. His final score was 3.8333.

Luke Binks on Tinkerbell(left) jousts Charlie Andrews on Jaeger(right)(photo by AzulOx)

"Everyone had a fantastic time, and Charlie truly earned his victory, squaring off against some of the best jousters in the entire world! I was having trouble with my horses, and Charlie graciously loaned me Jaeger to use in my last set of passes. He also risked his overall score to ride my young Shire, Baron, to help get him comfortable in the Lysts." -- L Dale Walter

The second through sixth place winners were: 2nd Scott Wilson on Plum(3.7143), 3rd Luc Petillot on Lucky and Earl(3.5), 4th Lloyd Clark on Maggie the Awesome(3.3333), 5th Xavier Fauvel on Peaches(3.25) and 6th Luke Binks on Tinkerbell and Ladybug(3.2381).

The Award of Honour

One of the things that differentiated “Lysts on the Lake” from many other jousting tournaments was that the competitors were judged not just on their physical skills, but also on their behavior towards others both on and off the lyst field. At Lysts, you did not see or hear the kinds of fights and arguments that were depicted on certain tv shows about jousting. Instead you saw competitors loaning each other equipment and horses, helping one another to fix last minute problems, and squiring for their fellow competitors when they themselves were not busy competing. Competitors would also go out of their way to be polite and friendly to the ground crew, staff and volunteers helping with the event. There was a sense of camaraderie among everyone involved.

“Normal people leave their tooth brush at home - me, I leave my shield at the hotel and have to borrow Scott Wilson's. Kind of cool how our colors match up. Thanks Lesley! [Scott's wife]” – Jeffrey Basham

Perhaps the competitors were just trying to impress the Lady of Honour and her informants, but perhaps not. Whatever the reason, it was very difficult for Dawn Hemphill, the Lady of Honour, to choose the recipient of the Award of Honour this year. During the awards ceremony, she mentioned a number of competitors who were strongly considered for the award. What might surprise people who were not at the event, was that she mentioned Charlie Andrews, who received loud cheers for his generosity in helping others before and during the event. When she mentioned Ryan Saathoff, he received a thunderous round of applause for the seemingly endless work he did to help everyone at the event.

Ryan Saathoff on Shadowfax during practice(photo by AzulOx)

However, there can only be one winner of the Award of Honour. By the time, the Lady of Honour came to his name, she was so choked up with emotion that she could not list the reasons why he deserved it, she simply mentioned his name, Matt Machtan. The other competitors smiled, nodded and seemed to agree with her choice.

Matt Machtan(photo by Pamela Morgan)

The Overall champion

The overall tournament champion was chosen on the basis of how well he did in all three of the equestrian competitions as well as how honourably he behaved throughout the tournament. Considering that Charlie Andrews placed within the top six of all three equestrian competitions and was mentioned favorably by the Lady of Honour, it is not surprising that he was named the overall champion for “Lysts on the Lake 2012”

Charlie Andrews(photo by Pamela Morgan)

What was surprising for many, was Charlie Andrews himself. They weren't surprised that he was a great jouster; they were surprised at what a genuinely nice person Charlie is. He may not be your traditional storybook knight in shining armour, but he is far from the villain that the tv show “Knights of Mayhem” made him out to be. By competing in “Lysts on the Lake” and allowing his fellow jousters get to know him as a real person, Charlie Andrews won more than just another tournament championship, he won the respect of his peers.

“ about when he [Charlie] took Dale's new horse down the list during the competition to train him.. shattering each time without issue. He also helped train and coach the same people he was competing with, graciously... For free.. I can't say enough.” – Nikki Fourtzialas

“Thank you Charlie. I have to compliment you on your jousting performance. Your skill in the lysts, both with horse and lance, were unmatched, and you got the results you deserved! I really enjoyed meeting you, talking with you and tilting with you, I'm looking forward to doing it all again!” – Luke Binks

“For those wondering, Charlie Andrews was the winner, and champion. To me, he is the Miyamoto Mushashi of jousting. If you understand Mushashi, you understand Charlie. Like him or not, he is simply the best jouster in the world. In person, he is a big teddy bear, who is there to win.” – Jason Edwards Monarch

The Other Champion at Lysts 2012

But there was another champion at this year's “Lysts on the Lake”, a little girl named Alexis. Alexis has been bravely fighting against the dragon of leukemia. Her bravery in combating this terrifying monster so impressed jouster and true Knight of the Templars, Matt Daniel, that he called her to come onto the jousting field during the award ceremony. In front of all the competitors on the field and spectators in the stands, Matt took off his spurs and gave them to Alexis to honour her brave battle. He also gave her the title of Dragon-Slaying Princess.

Alexis, the Dragon-Slaying Princess, with her father, Matt Daniel and her mother(photo by Pamela Morgan)

Many of the spectators and competitors were openly crying or fighting back tears as Alexis, carried by her parents, accepted Matt's spurs. A few days after Lysts, Matt Daniel posted online:

“UPDATE!!!! Alexis (the young girl from the ceremony on Sunday), had a bone marrow biopsy done yesterday.... No signs of leukemia cells remain! Thank you all for for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers! Something great has happened!!!!!” – Matt Daniel”

A wonderful ending to a wonderful tournament.

Tournament Champion Overall rankings
1. Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister and Baron
2. Scott Wilson on Plum, Peaches and Moose
3. Dave Wise on Pandora
4. Luc Petillot on Lucky and Earl
5. Sean Gulick on Saga and Red
6. David Young on Boccaccio
Joust a'Plaisance rankings
1. Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister and Baron
2. Scott Wilson on Plum
3. Luc Petillot on Lucky and Earl
4. Lloyd Clark on Maggie the Awesome
5. Xavier Fauvel on Peaches
6. Luke Binks on Tinkerbell and Ladybug
Melee rankings
1. Sean Gulick on Red
2. Jim Myers on Moose
3. Scott Wilson on Peaches
4. Dustin Stephens on Sampson
5. Dave Wise on Pandora
6. Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister
7. Theresa Wendland on Cash
Mounted Skill at Arms rankings
1. Jeffrey Basham on Pooh Bear
2. Frederic Piraux on Ladybug
3. David Young on Boccaccio
4. Charlie Andrews on Jaegermeister
5. Xavier Fauvel on Peaches
6. Andre Renier on Rilius “Riley” Maximus
The Award of Honour
Matt Machtan
Tirocinium (tournament for those just learning to joust)
1. Galen Bevel on Peaches
2. Jeffrey Basham on Pooh Bear
3. Matthieu Kevers on Ladybug
4. Jim Myers on Moose
5. Brian Dix on Hank
6. Zac Young on Earl
7. Michael Carroll on Plum
And, of course, Alexis, the Dragon-Slaying Princess.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rod Walker of "Full Metal Jousting" Wins Blacktown Medieval Fayre Jousting Tournament

On May 19 & 20, the Full Tilt Joust Team hosted the jousting tournament at the annual Blacktown Medieval Fayre. Rod Walker, from the tv show "Full Metal Jousting", won first place in the jousting portion of the tournament with a total of 70 out of a possible 75 points. Phillip Oliver, the gray rabbit, earned second place with 55 points. And Sarah Hay, the current Australian National Jousting Champion, came in third with 53 points. (Admittedly, she may be suffering a bit from jet lag since she competed in "Lysts on the Lake" in Taylor, Texas, USA just the week before.)

Sarah Hay jousts Rod Walker at Blacktown Medieval Fayre 2012(photo by Ross Schultz)

Other jousters in the tournament were Sasha Buchmann (43 points), Andrew McKinnon (29 points) and Phillip Leitch (18 points).

Phillip Oliver jousts Andrew McKinnon at Blacktown Medieval Fayre 2012(photo by Karin Bridle)

In the Mounted Skill at Arms division, Andrew McKinnon won first place. Sarah Hay earned second place. Phillip Oliver and Nicole Denton tied for third. And Linda Dicmanis finished fourth.

The viewers at the Blacktown Medieval Fair jousting tournament also got to vote on their favorite competitor and horse. Shadow, a 14.3 hand Percheron x Australian Stock Horse mare, was chosen as the favorite horse. Rod Walker was chosen as the favorite knight.

Rod Walker on Shadow at Blacktown Medieval Fayre 2012(photo by Ross Schultz)

A short video of a jousting pass with Andrew McKinnon and Sasha Buchmann:

Video by mozebasic

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jousting in the News 5-2-12 through 5-18-12

Some nice tv news videos of "Lysts on the Lake" international jousting tournament and of Rod Walker of "Full Metal Jousting" and Robbie Hubbard getting ready for the "Blacktown Medieval Fayre".

*** recommended articles

Kent News: Jousting tournaments throughout the summer in Kent (announces theatrical? Jousting tournaments to be held at Hever Castle, Edenbridge)

***The View: VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP: Knights of Iron enters the lyst in competitive jousting WITH VIDEO (nice, but somewhat inaccurate article about the Knights of Iron and jousting in general)

Brian Stephenson tilts at rings (photo from The View)

Tulsa World: Take a stroll through merrie olde England (about a renaissance faire in Oklahoma that features a “royal joust”, probably theatrical jousting)

Northern Life: Jousting the draw of Celtic Festival (the Knights of Valour will be performing at the Sudbury Celtic Festival and Highland Games, June 2 in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada)

My Valley News: Old World Festival Begins Saturday in Corona (renaissance faire in California that features “full-contact knight-jousts”)

Southwest Riverside News Network: Old World Festival to kick off Saturday in Corona (exactly the same as previous article, but with a picture)

Oxford Mail: Jousting knights wow crowd at the palace (Knights of Royal England jousted at Blenheim Palace)

The Norwood Post: Jousting in Norwood: Renaissance Fair seeks sponsors (Norwood Renaissance Fair in Telluride, Colorado, USA, that will include jousting, seeks sponsors)

***Manly Daily: Glory could be joust around the corner (nice article about Australian jouster Andrew McKinnon travelling to France to compete)

Andrew McKinnon with a different kind of ride (photo from Manly Daily)

The Press Enterprise: CORONA: Renaissance Fair returns for 15th year (The New Riders of the Golden Age to joust at Koroneburg Old World Festival)

****Austin YNN: International jousting competition comes to Texas (nice tv news article with good video of “Lysts on the Lake”)

Asbury Park Press: Olympic implications at horse-trial event (Don't get too excited. The event organizers of this normally staid equestrian Olympic qualifying event decided to try and draw in more spectators by including some theatrical style jousting. Mentions James Fairclough from FMJ)

The Press Enterprise: CORONA: Jousting, juggling highlight Renaissance Festival (another article about the Koroneburg Renaissance Festival that includes jousting)

Examiner: Jersey Fresh event swept by Australian Olympian (Another article about the Olympic qualifying “Jersey Fresh International Horse Trials” that included jousting to draw more spectators. James Fairclough of FMJ mentioned)

The Telegraph: Knights armour up for jousting tournament (tv news video of Rod Walker of Full Metal Jousting and Robbie Hubbard preparing for Blacktown Medieval Festival)

***The Sydney Morning Herald: Crunch time: making money from a medieval extreme sport (very nice article about Rod Walker from “Full Metal Jousting” and the joust team he and his wife Michelle run in Australia)

Blacktown Advocate: Doonside: Medieval Fayre at Nurragingy Reserve
(brief article about Blacktown Medieval Fayre which will include a jousting tournament)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wyvern Oaks Talks About the Tornado Scare the Night Before "Lysts on the Lake"

The author of the blog "Wyvern Oaks" gives her account of the tornado scare that occurred Thursday, May 10, the last day of CMAI and the day before the "Lysts on the Lake" international jousting tournament.

"....About halfway through the practice, we started to see lightning quite close, and hear thunder. Riders were told to dismount, and that practice was being canceled due to the weather. Someone checked the forecast on their cell phone, and discovered we were under a tornado watch. They announced over the loudspeakers that we were to take shelter in the cement-block bathrooms if the tornado sirens went off, or if we heard a noise like a train. So much for an uneventful practice!

We began to help the jousters disarm and get them off their horses, when suddenly the wind picked up and rain started coming in sideways through the covered arena. The wind began howling, and the solid panel jousting lane started coming down in the wind. We quickly got the remaining riders off their horses, as the thunder built and the lightning came down so quickly the sky was nearly daylit. At this point, the wind and the driving rain were so loud we were screaming at one another just to be heard, even though we were standing quite close...." Read more

After the storm (photo by Wyvern Oaks)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Andre Renier Creates a New Jousting Lance

Andre Renier is an experienced member of the Knights of Iron Joust Team as well as an historical technician. As an historical technician, he basically tries to figure out exactly how things from the past worked and how they were made to work that way. He and the WEC Institute recreated the Maximillian Exploding Armor featured in a previous article on “The Jousting Life”. Recently, he has been working on creating a jousting lance better suited to the modern sport of jousting than the lances that are currently available.

He kindly agreed to be interviewed about developing his new jousting lance:

How long have you been involved in jousting?

Andre: Both L. Dale Walter and I were hired by Michigan Renaissance Festival in 1983 as their first knights along with a guy by the name of Ralph and older man whose name has been lost to history.

How did you become involved in jousting?

Andre: I have always had a love of history and horses. In the early '80's I went to the Michigan Renaissance Festival (MRF). I had spent the entire day watching shows. Late in the afternoon SAK Theater did their show. It was the first time I had seen audience participatory theater. I decided right there that I wanted to do that to be part of that kind of theater style. Also, they had no knights. What kind of Renaissance Fair had no knights on horses? So I applied for the next year and was hired. When MRF found out I had horses and was willing to work for $25 a day I became a knight...sort of. Dale was hired in much the same way but with his superior negotiating skills he got $35 a day. At that time we had no script, no idea how to joust, no armor and no one to turn to for guidance. Just a couple of guys with horses. MRF management handed us broomsticks painted black with gray duct tape spiraled down them and told us if we had more than 35 people in the stands we had to do a show.

What led you to decide to create your own jousting lance?

Andre: The Knights of Iron Joust Team may have the world's largest private modern lance collection. We were looking for something that was not on the market. I was challenged to build a lance that had better handling characteristics, was more durable and was easier to operate for beginning riders - a cost effective practice and training lance. I thought it would be easy. I was wrong. We have built 14 different models with 26 minor revisions. Our research and development costs have now exceeded $10,000 not including the costs to design and build the world's only purpose built lance lathes. We now have 5 machines dedicated to making lances and components.

Jousting Lance Prototypes 1, 2 and 3 (photos by Andre Renier)

What historical considerations were involved in the design of the lance?

Andre: We did not set out to recreate a lance from history. However we have learned much from the lances that remain in museums and from historical accounts. We faced the same problems they did. Lances need to do their job while looking good and not breaking the budget. They need to be light yet sturdy. In the past Limewood (similar to American Basswood) was used. It has good strength for its weight and is easily carved. Wood of the Poplar tree is similar. It is slightly more sturdy while being a touch lighter than Basswood. The drawback is that it is a bit harder to carve. Once we settled on a wood we had to develop the machines. Again, we took cues from historical lance lathes. Our machinery is really just high tech versions of what was used 500 years ago. In fact our lance lathes are largely based on images of lance lathes from the period.

Jousting Lance Model 12 prototype and close up (photos by Andre Renier)

What aspects of the design were based on its functionality for contemporary jousting?

Andre: We set out to make a modern lance for the modern joust. We wanted to make something that could be used for practice and would readily accept 1 1/4" balsa tips.

Jousting Lance M-14 with "hidden" ferrule that will accept any 1 1/4" tip

It needed to be something that could be used for years to come and was easy to operate. Also, it needed to be comfortable. We reduced the size of the tail section (the part that goes under the arm). Many riders complained that the early models we made were to thick under the arm. The Model 14 is large enough to put under the arm pit and hold while not being too large to be uncomfortable for most.

Andre Renier holding the M-14 jousting lance under his arm

How much of the design was based solely on practicality? (i.e. cost to manufacture and ship, specific consumer interest, etc...)

Andre: The Model 14 is a completely modern lance. Its design was based on a number of criteria.

It needed to be light. Many of today's jousters are looking for a lance that is lighter in the tip and requires less upper body strength to raise, lower and keep on target.

It needed to offer the consumer a good value for their money. We wanted something that is easy to ship and easy to assemble once it arrives. We ship each lance pre-primer painted with a glue kit so that after unpacking a lance can be completely assembled and ready for final painting in less than 15 minutes. After the glue cures for a day the lance is ready for final painting.

What aspect of creating your lance was the most fun?

Getting the lance into my team mates hands and watching them play. For those who know Dale know that he is quick with a joke and equally quick to laugh at one, but rarely in our nearly 30 years have I seen him grin. After his second pass in a row with the X-13 (Model 13 proto-type) he grinned at me and said, "This is a game changer!"

Jousting Lance Model X-13 prototype (photo by Andre Renier)

What aspect of creating your lance was the most frustrating?

Andre: Weight. We had set a goal of a 5lb. lance "loaded" with a 1 1/4 inch by 36 inch balsa tip and a Historic Enterprises 1 1/4 inch Rubber Cornel. We had to get the weight out of the middle of the lance but retain its strength. 500 years ago they fluted the lances to achieve this. Fluting is expensive and did not achieve our goals. We tried quite a number of novel solutions including a carbon fiber lance tube. Carbon fiber composite lances are awesome but very expensive. We finally went back to a lance designed and built by L. Dale Walter in the 80's. It was still around in the attic of my garage. We used the midsection of that lance as the inspiration for the Model 12, Model 13, and Model 14. We were able to achieve a "loaded" weight of 4.5 lbs., one half pound lighter than our goal.

Did anything particularly amusing happen during the process of making your lance?

Andre: We initially thought that we wanted the balance point of the lance to be close to the front of the grip. With a lance balanced right at your index finger you feel no tip weight. We thought, "Why, we have created the perfect lance." On the first test run I happily had my new lance in hand. I asked my horse Riley for a nice slow canter. As I passed the quintain my lance was still vertical. I realized the error. A lance that is balanced so close to the grip requires that you consciously push the lance tip down. Riders who tested it found they didn't like it all. Most notably the lighter riders found that they had to use a fair amount of strength to rotate the tip down instead of just "dropping" the tip.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the lance?

Andre: The Model 14 Lance is a modern lance for the modern joust. It is designed to be easier to operate, to allow for easier rotation and easier target acquisition. It is also designed to be easier to disengage after tip break. It has a tail compartment that allows for weights to be added. This allows for customization of the balance point. The tail section can be easily modified for riders with "angel wing" armor or for riders who prefer a shorter tail section.

Andre Renier holding the M-14 jousting lance

Who would you like to thank for inspiring and/or helping you to design and create your lance?

Andre: We would like to thank the Knights of Iron Joust Team for all the help throughout the process and Dale Walter for challenging me to build a vision and testing each of the successes and failures. I must also thank Sam Matyas and Kellyn Burtka for their insight, and honesty throughout the process. And Jason Monarch for cheering the innovations and assisting in determining how and why we had failures. Finally I'd like to thank Matthew Mansour for taking a chance on these new lances and putting them in his show.

When and where will your lances be available for purchase by the general public?

Andre: Our lances are now available for purchase through with ALL profits being donated to equestrian safety research.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

UN-official Results for "Lysts on the Lake 2012"

As soon as the official results are available, they will be posted, but for now, here are the UN-official and incomplete results of who won what at "Lysts on the Lake 2012".

Overall Tournament Champion:
Charlie Andrews

Joust a'Plaisance Winner:
Charlie Andrews

Melee a'Cheval Winner:
Sean Gulick

Mounted Skill at Arms Winner:
Jeffrey Basham

Chosen to receive the Award of Honour:
Matt Machtan

Congratulations to EVERYONE who competed. It doesn't matter what your standings were in the rankings at the end of the tournament. What matters was that you showed up and competed in the largest competitive jousting tournament in the modern world.

And congratulations to everyone who helped to produce this event -- the producer, Steve Hemphill; the King at Arms, Michael Carroll; the Lady of Honour, Dawn Hemphill; the judges; staff; squires; ground crew; volunteers; etc... Without the work and support of all of these people, tournaments like this would not be possible.

More information and pictures of "Lysts on the Lake 2012" will be forthcoming as soon as possible.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Joust For Fun

After the first day of "Lysts on the Lake", a number of the jousters gathered in the hotel restaurant for a little rest and relaxation. It turned out that it was karaoke night in the restaurant, and a number of jousters sang some songs. One of the most popular was a duet of "We Are the Champions"

Singing "We Are the Champions"

The other jousters in the audience seemed to really enjoy it!

However, it seemed that a couple of the competitors couldn't stop jousting, even if all they had to joust with was sombrero's.

Sombrero Jousting!(video by Zhi Zhu)

Eventually, someone managed to get one of the sombrero's onto Steve Hemphill, the producer of "Lysts on the Lake".

Steve Hemphill gets sombrero-ed.

At one point Charlie Andrews sang a song, although he didn't always sing the lyrics as written. His improvisations were met with laughter and cheers.

Charlie Andrews sings his own version of karaoke

Later on, jouster Ryan Saathoff was co-opted in playing Riff Raff's part from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" while other jousters danced the "Time Warp"

Jousters do the Time Warp!(video by Zhi Zhu)

All in all, it was a fun way to end the first day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chivalric Martial Arts International Symposium, Day 3, and "Lysts on the Lake" Gets Exciting Even Before the Tournament Begins

Thursday, May 10, was the third day of the Chivalric Martial Arts International symposium (CMAI) held in Taylor, TX. There were only three equestrian classes held during CMAI on Thursday.

Beginner Riding 4: with Tina Walsh
Jousting 5: The Joust with Luke Binks
Mounted Combat 3: Introduction to Fiore's Sword on Horseback with Theresa Wendland

The limited number of equestrian classes was to allow time for the competitors of "Lysts on the Lake" to do some practice runs and be evaluated by the King of Arms and Lady of Honour before the actual tournament. These practice runs also gave the ground crew, staff and volunteers a chance to practice their parts.


In the middle of the last jousting practice, the wind began blowing so strongly that the tilt fence was swaying into the lyst lanes. The jousting runs had to be stopped until the wind died down. But the wind did not die down; it continued to get worse. When it got to the point that rain was blowing sideways into the arena, everyone was told to take their horses over to the downwind side of the arena.

A few minutes later, the announcers were notified that there was a tornado watch in effect for the Taylor area. The competitors were told to dismount, and everyone was told to be prepared to run into the most secure building on the grounds -- the cinder block bathroom building. However, before all of the competitors even managed to dismount, several people thought they heard tornado sirens. Everyone was told to IMMEDIATELY leave the arena and take shelter in the bathroom building.

I was there. It was a terrifying experience.

The wind was ferocious and was driving the rain so hard it that it was literally stinging any exposed skin. Ground crew and squires were trying to help jousters dismount, loose horses were running around the arena, and because of where I had been set up to take pictures, I was on the opposite side of the arena from my husband and my horse.

This experience made very clear to me where my priorities lie. I love taking pictures and anyone who has seen me at an event knows how much I baby my camera. But when the tornado warning was given (mistakenly, thank goodness), I thrust my camera at the videographer who was standing near me and ran to take care of my husband and my horse. As you may have noticed, there are no pictures in this post. The videographer still has my camera.

By the time I got to the other side of the arena, my husband had managed to dismount and was being ripped out of his armour by his squires, so I took my horse, Shadowfax, and started moving him to the downwind side of the arena, scared, but not wanting to leave my horse, and irrationally thinking that somehow he and I would be more protected there. Many people had already dismounted and loosed their horses and were running out of the arena. So I was dodging horses and people and hanging on to my horse's reins for dear life. My horse, fabulous creature that he is, was far calmer than I was, and he stuck by my side despite all the confusion surrounding us.

As I was continuing to lead Shadowfax across the arena, not really knowing what else to do, a good friend and fellow equestrian came up to me and yelled at me to just take Shadowfax's bridle off and leave him in the arena. I think she and I managed to get his bridle off in less than two seconds. I didn't want to leave Shadowfax, but my friend literally dragged me away from him by my arm and thrust me towards the bathroom building. I have a somewhat unclear memory that Shadowfax still tried to follow me, but my friend shoo-ed him back towards the center of the arena. Other horses were trying to follow their owners as well, and various individuals were trying to keep the horses in the arena while getting the people out. I got swept up in the mass of people running to the cinder block building, and there I stayed throughout the worst part of the storm.

However, some people were braver or more stubborn than I was. My husband and several others began moving the horses who were still in the temporary stable -- consisting of a huge tent and portable fence panels -- into the covered arena where they would be safer than they would be in the tent. They also managed to somehow get the remaining tack off of the loose (and panicking) horses that had been in the arena for jousting practice. Some of which were running around with bridles, saddles and/or caparisons still on them. (For those that aren't familiar with horses, it is dangerous to leave a horse loose with its tack on. The reins, stirrups and other parts of the tack can get caught and tangled in ways that can seriously injure and even kill a horse.)

Dale Walter was one of those risking themselves to protect the horses. He wrote on Facebook:

"Kudos to Ryan S., John Juretich, Andre Renier, and anyone I missed seeing in the blinding rain, who with me, refused to take cover during the tornado, and fought to save the joust horses.
Eric was in it too. Robert Welch as well. Samantha, Kellyn, many of the French contingent, and arena staff, ran horses into the arena while Ryan and I battled unfamiliar saddles, tack, and caparisons off panicked horses and hurled them over the fence to John Juretich.

Jennifer was in most of it, and was the first one back when it let up a bit.

It was exciting for sure..."

Despite this little adventure, "Lysts on the Lake" will still start at noon Friday as scheduled. If you were planning on coming to the tournament, you should definitely still come. Like the famous Tournament of Eglinton which continued in spite of three days of truly appalling weather, a little rain and wind is not going to stop the "Lysts on the Lake".

For those participating in the event as competitors, squires, ground crew, volunteers, etc... If at all possible please arrive early on Friday to help re-set the tilt fence and other pieces of equipment that were knocked over and/or blown about during the storm. Most of the staff plan on being there at 8am and would appreciate if as many people as possible could show up at 8am or shortly thereafter to help prepare for the event.

Some other comments from Facebook:

"When I woke up this morning, I didn't think I'd end the day in a women's bathroom with a bunch of knights." -- Tanz Dexter

"Horrible weather at lysts on the Lake I am truly thankful for friends that care about me Nikki and Charlie Andrews for coming to our rescue and getting my horses in a safe place for the night .." -- Bobbie Patterson

"Charlie Andrews literally just gave me the shirt off his back - well the jacket. Good man!" -- Ilona Beck

"I was very worried about getting my pregnant wife, my daughter, and my horse to safety. Charlie Andrews, William Brunson, and Joshua Warren went out of their way, at great personal risk to themselves, to help me save my family, and property. I owe them." -- Matt Daniel

"There was a point, when all of the horses were in the arena and we were breaking up the horse fights that I turned around and there was a flood of people coming out of the safety of the restrooms to help with the horses. At that point, nobody knew that we were safe. They just knew that there were horses that needed held and calmed. Talk about an amazing bunch of people." -- Robert Welch

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chivalric Martial Arts International Symposium, Day 2, and Preparing for Lysts on the Lake

Wednesday, May 10 was the second day of the Chivalric Martial Arts International symposium (CMAI) that is leading up to the "Lysts on the Lake" international jousting tournament. As mentioned in a previous article, the CMAI is a three day clinic teaching a variety of Chivalric Martial Arts including classroom instruction, armoured foot combat and equestrian instruction.

For Wednesday, the equestrian classes were:

Beginner Rider 2: with Tina Walsh
Jousting 3: Riding in Armour with Luke Binks
Beginner Rider 3: with Tina Walsh
Jousting 4: Weapons Handling in Armour with Luke Binks
Mounted Combat 2: Riding for Combat with Theresa Wendland

...and later that night there was the first jousting practice for the competitors at this year's "Lysts on the Lake".

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend or get pictures of either of the Jousting classes taught by Luke Binks. However, I was able to watch the Mounted Combat class taught by Theresa Wendland and her assistant Douglas Wagner. Since most of her students for this session were not expert riders, Theresa concentrated on the basics, such as getting close enough to your opponent to actually strike them. She explained that if you tried to attack your opponent from too far away, you would simply throw yourself off balance and possibly off your horse.

Theresa demonstrates what not to do when attacking an opponent.

She had her students practice passing close enough to slap each others hands while keeping their elbows bent at apx a 90 degree angle. (click on the thumbnails to see the full sized pictures.)

It may look like these students are simply giving each other the "high five", but they are actually practicing towards being able to do mounted combat.

Later in the class, Theresa used Douglas to demonstrate how to pull your opponent off balance and possibly out of their saddle. (click on the thumbnails to see the full sized pictures.)

Theresa pulls Douglas off balance

Finally, she and Douglas demonstrated some of the kinds of riding at speed that you would need to be able to do in order to compete in mounted combat.

Theresa and Douglas simulate riding against an opponent at speed

While the CMAI classes were being taught, volunteers were helping to get things ready for the upcoming jousting tournament -- such as spray painting the coronels that go on the tips of the lances.

Just one of the many tasks that need to be done to prepare for a tournament

And practicing actually putting the tips on the lances.

Capable ground crew are an essential part of any jousting tournament

At the very end of the evening, it was time for the competitors of "Lysts on the Lake" to practice going through the complicated sequence of steps necessary to run a smooth tournament. Arranging for the right people on the right horses with the right equipment to be at the right place at the right time isn't easy.

Every jouster needs squires to help them prepare to joust

And it is not just the jousters that need to be in place. The squires, ground crew, judges, King of Arms, Lady of Honour and the announcers all need to work together as well. The logistics of it all are rather staggering.

Just a few of the many people required to produce a jousting tournament

The announcers and stage manager planning how the tournament will go

The jousters may be the most visible participants in any jousting tournament, but there are a great many people working behind the scenes to make the tournament a success.