The Jousting Life

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Competitive Jousting Article Published in Andalusian Magazine

While I was at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show covering the jousting demonstration that was part of the event's Opening 'Knight' ceremonies, I became re-acquainted with several friends who are breeders and trainers of Andalusian and Lusitano horses, including Nicole Hill of Suspension Sporthorses. I introduced Nicole to my Andalusian/Lusitano gelding Shadowfax, and she asked about the use of Spanish and Portuguese horses in jousting. One thing led to another, and I ended up writing an article about "The Iberian Horse in Competitive Jousting" to be included in both the print and online versions of the most recent issue of Andalusian magazine which is put out by the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association(IALHA).

The cover of the latest issue of Andalusian magazine(photo from Andalusian magazine website)

Since I was writing for an audience that generally had little to no experience with the sport of contemporary competitive jousting, parts of the article are extremely simplified. Jousting is a very complicated sport. The history of the joust could and has filled several books, and the modern sport is just as filled with variation and controversy as historical jousting. It would be impossible for anyone to give a comprehensive overview of the sport in a magazine article. So what I tried to do was give a good BASIC introduction to the sport with an emphasis on the use of the Andalusian, the Lusitano and their crosses as jousting horses.

I am not a scholar of the history of jousting, nor have I ever jousted. However, I have been involved in jousting practices, clinics, demonstrations and tournaments of various sorts over the past six years, and I have been writing and editing "The Jousting Life" for a year and a half. I may not be the best person to write a magazine article about competitive jousting(I can think of several people who would be more qualified off the top of my head), but I was the one the magazine asked, so I took it upon myself to write the article.

Screen capture of the first two pages of the article in the online version of Andalusian Magazine
(photo by The Jousting Life)

I did request and receive help in writing this article from a number of jousting scholars and experienced jousters, including(in no particular order) Steve Hemphill, Arne Koets, Wouter Nicolai, Hanne Prøis-Røhjell, Douglas Wagner, Andreas Wenzel, Alix van Zijl, Ken Mondschein, Bertus Brokamp, Rod Walker, Virginia Hankins, Luke Binks and probably some others that I've left out because I'm forgetful, not because their contributions weren't valuable. Anything I got right in the article is probably due to one of the aforementioned people. Anything I got wrong is completely my own fault.

I also received help from a number of photographers who graciously allowed the magazine to use their photographs to illustrate the article, including(in no particular order)Vera Bos, Hanno van Harten, Rozemarijn Keuning, AzulOx photography, Oliver Dunsch, Virginia Hankins/Chanty, "The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel" website and The City of Sankt Wendel. Other photographers donated pictures that were not chosen to be used in the article, but they are equally deserving of thanks, including(in no particular order)Franziska Schatek, Gerlinde Viveen, Nigel Wallace-Iles, Pat Huey and Katrina Dutchover Gitlin. If I left anyone out, I apologize.

Unfortunately, due to an error, none of the photographers were properly credited for the pictures that were used by the magazine. The IALHA president has apologized and said that they will print the names of the photographers whose pictures were used in the article in the next issue of Andalusian magazine.

I would especially like to thank my husband, Ryan, who has given me unconditional love and support over the years. Without him, I would never have had the courage to create and continue to produce "The Jousting Life" which led directly to being asked to write the article for Andalusian Magazine. He means the world to me, and I probably don't thank him enough for all he does for me.

Ryan Saathoff riding Shadowfax at "Lysts on the Lake 2012"
(photo by AzulOx Photography)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

About a Horse: Hugo

This wonderful tribute to the jousting horse, Hugo, was written by his longtime owner and rider Per Estein Prøis-Røhjell(aka Pelle).

Hugo and Pelle practice in the snow(photo by Renate Skeie)

The Hugo

I know that I am not alone, when I share the feeling of dread that accompanies some of our greatest achievements. Those times when you know you will stretch to your very limit, and you know in your heart that it might still not be enough.

The joust is an obvious example of this mix of feelings. A good friend of mine, Arne Koets, has a saying when we are getting armoured,"Why are we doing this again?" I think it expresses very well how it feels sometimes.

Pelle has some help armouring up for the joust(photo by Rozemarijn Keurning)

Now this feeling is of course not limited to those who joust. Any tough situation, be it meeting your boss for the first time, hiring employees, taking on a great adventure of one sort or another -- buying a house, say -- or a thousand other little things, please insert your own experience...

In all these situations, you know there is only one thing that can carry you through:
True Courage.

Many people mistakenly think that those who do scary, difficult stuff all the time, and do it well; these people are never afraid. I beg to differ. Some of the toughest people I know are also some of the tenderest hearts I know.

But this post is not about people. It is about a horse. My first horse, to be precise.

Hugo is prepared for the joust by One Enerud(photo by Oliver Dunsch)

Hugo has never been unafraid -- I think. He is not bred for courage, he is bred for speed, if anything, the Bastard he is.

But The Mighty Hugo has carried me through France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, participating in at least one of the hardest tournaments in the world. Always afraid, always performing. Rearing, running away, stopping before the strike fell, and even turning away from the tilt. But always, when jousting, Hugo delivers a fearsome hit. Even if I don´t.

Hugo carries Pelle down the tilt at "The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel"
(photo by Rozemarijn Keurning)

I have seen him stay away from fights in the herd, just to calmly step into leadership the very next moment. Still always afraid, always wary.

What I want to have said here, is that fight or flight, it is the same! I believe that the courage to take out all your power in a difficult situation, is always preferable to curling up like a fetus, and just waiting until someone else saves you.

The Hugo has always dared showing his true self. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for teaching me this. Now I retire him. I give him to someone who tries to learn these same abilities. I have never met a more stubborn teacher than Hugo. It is with great pleasure I pass him on. May his fields be green, may his rider learn, and may his mighty muscles carry his new rider to ever greater understanding.


Hugo and Pelle impress the audience at "The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel"
(photo by Rozemarijn Keurning)

Friday, August 23, 2013

More Information and Video from "The Grand Tournament of St Charles"

Since the post announcing Andre Renier the winner of "The Grand Tournament of St Charles" was completed at 4am after several days and nights of hard work and was therefore a bit scant on information, here is an expanded post about the tournament that took place as part of the "Festival of the Horse & Drum" on August 17 & 18, in St Charles, Illinois.

For the first portion of "The Grand Tournament of St Charles", all eight of the competitors ran a Mounted Skill at Arms(MSA) course. Videos of all eight MSA course runs are now viewable on "The Jousting Life" YouTube channel. However, here are videos of the two jousters who tied for second place on the MSA course: Steve Hemphill on his Friesian cross mare Tinkerbell and Andre Renier on his Percheron gelding Chevy.

Steve Hemphill competes in the MSA course on his Friesian cross mare Tinkerbell
(video by The Jousting Life)

Andre Renier rides the MSA course on his Percheron gelding Chevy (video by The Jousting Life)

As mentioned in a previous post, Australian jouster Sarah Hay on Riley and US jouster Stacy Wasson(one of the Awesome Wassons) on Solovino tied for first place in the MSA portion of the competition. Steve Hemphill on Tinkerbell and Andre Renier on Chevy tied for second place. Jeffrey Basham on Pooh Bear, Jeff Wasson(the other Awesome Wasson) on Solovino and Scott Wilson on Tanner tied for third. In fourth place was Chris Greenway on Angel.

Another portion of the tournament involved a Mounted Melee which was included as part of the "Festival of the Horse & Drum's" Saturday evening "Extravaganza". Unfortunately, the video of the first few minutes of the mounted melee competition did not come out very well, but here is the video(still not great, but viewable) of the last few minutes.

The last few minutes of the Mounted Melee competition(video by The Jousting Life)
As you can hear, the children standing next to me as I filmed this video were very excited.

The Mounted Melee depends a great deal on each competitor's honour. Although different melees have different rules, in this melee, each competitor fought until they felt that they had received five solid blows. At that point, they placed their melee baton horizontally across their head declaring themselves out of the competition and removed themselves from the field of battle. Stacy Wasson graciously agreed to give up her chance to earn points in the melee in order to act as the mounted marshal. The mounted marshal is there to keep an eye on things and, in the rare case of a competitor not withdrawing even after it is obvious they have received multiple blows, to remove that competitor.

Here are the results of the Mounted Melee:

First: Steve Hemphill riding his quarterhorse gelding Lucky
Second: Jeffrey Basham riding his quarterhorse mare Pooh Bear
Third: Scott Wilson riding his appaloosa mare Luna
Fourth: Jeff Wasson on Scott's appaloosa gelding Tanner
Fifth: Sarah Hay on Andre's Percheron cross gelding Riley
Sixth: Chris Greenway riding his Quarab mare Angel
Seventh: Andre Renier riding his Percheron gelding Chevy

In the tilting portion(what most people refer to as the actual jousting) of the competition, as mentioned in the previous article, Sarah Hay earned first place riding Andre's Percheron cross gelding Riley. Jousters who travel long distances to compete in a tournament(especially those who travel overseas) are dependent on others to loan them horses to ride. It was extremely generous of Andre Renier to loan Sarah his most experienced jousting horse, the horse that was eventually awarded the title Champion Horse of "The Grand Tournament of St Charles".

A rare tip to tip lance hit between Sarah Hay riding Riley and Stacy Wasson riding Solovino
(photo by The Jousting Life)

Steve Hemphill, riding his Friesian cross mare Tinkerbell, and Jeffrey Basham(Isn't that a GREAT name for a jouster?), riding his quarterhorse mare Pooh Bear, tied for second place in the tilt.

Steve Hemphill leaves a trail of flying lance shards behind him (photo by The Jousting Life)

Jeffrey Basham(on right) and Scott Wilson break their lances against one another
(photo by The Jousting Life)

Stacy Wasson, who most times rode the borrowed Azteca stallion Solovino, earned third place. Due to various circumstances, Stacy ended up riding a total of four different horses(Solovino, Tanner, Chevy and Tinkerbell) in five different saddles during the course of the tournament. Riding multiple horses during a tournament, especially unfamiliar horses, is very challenging, and Stacy deserves kudos for how well she did riding a variety of horses. In the following video, you can glimpse Stacy, wearing a red and gold feather crest on her helm and riding the Percheron gelding Chevy with his red saddle pad, breaking her lance against Steve Hemphill whose colors are blue, black and white.

Stacy Wasson breaks her lance against Steve Hemphill(video by The Jousting Life)

Andre Renier, riding his secondary jousting horse, the Percheron gelding Chevy, came in fourth place. In fifth place was Jeff Wasson, who mostly rode the "loaner horse" Solovino, but also rode other horses occasionally(he also deserves kudos). Scott Wilson on his Appaloosa Gelding Tanner, came in sixth. And Chris Greenway in his first competitive jousting tournament, riding his quarab mare Angel, came in seventh.

If one were to go strictly by the points earned during the equestrian part of the competition, the list of overall winners would have been as follows: Sarah Hay would have earned first place.

Sarah Hay riding Riley breaks her lance against Jeffrey Basham riding Pooh Bear
(video by The Jousting Life)

Steve Hemphill and Jeffrey Basham would have tied for second place. Stacy Wasson would have earned third place(the two female jousters did extremely well for themselves). Andre Renier would have earned fourth place, Jeff Wasson fifth place, Scott Wilson sixth place and Chris Greenway seventh place. However, the organizers of the this tournament decided that they wanted to include chivalry/sportsmanship/popularity as part of the overall scoring system. When those points (which were awarded by the jousters, ground crew and judges) were added to the equestrian competition scores, Andre Renier was the winner by a landslide.

Andre and his newly designed lance, which was slightly lighter and had a more tapered base than previous lances, were so popular that several of the competitors designed and had made(during the course of the tournament) a shirt specifically stating their appreciation for Andre and his lance.

These jousters and ground crew really love Andre's lance(photo by Holiday Hogg/Jeff Wasson)

Pictures from Friday's jousting practice are already posted on "The Jousting Life's" Facebook page in the album "Festival of the Horse & Drum 2013 Friday Practice". More pictures will be posted as they are sorted and edited.

Since people have been asking for more information about the horses used in jousting, there is an article in the works about the horses used in "The Grand Tournament of St Charles". Look for it in the near future.

You can see more pictures from the tournament in "The Jousting Life" Facebook page albums:

Festival of the Horse & Drum 2013 Friday Practice

Grand Tournament of St Charles 2013 - Saturday Jousting

Grand Tournament of St Charles 2013 - Sunday Jousting

Monday, August 19, 2013

Andre Renier Wins "The Grand Tournament of St Charles"

This past weekend, August 17 & 18, as part of the "Festival of the Horse and Drum", there was an International Jousting League and International Jousting Association-USA sanctioned international jousting tournament referred to as "The Grand Tournament of St Charles". There were a total of eight competitors including three competitors who are ranked among the top five jousters in the world according to the International Jousting League. One of those top five ranked jousters is Andre Renier, who earned good scores during the competition, but won the championship based on the votes given to him by the participants in the tournament (including the jousters, ground crew, Lady of Honour and Impresario). It was not only his jousting skills, but also his chivalry and willingness to help anyone with anything that earned him the title of Grand Champion of the tournament.

Here is a short clip of Andre Renier on his Percheron gelding, Chevy, jousting against Steve Hemphill -- another one of the top five jousters in the world -- on his Friesian cross mare, Tinkerbell.

Andre Renier jousts Steve Hemphill(video by The Jousting Life)

Andre's other jousting horse, the Percheron gelding Riley -- whom he loaned to Australian jouster Sarah Hay for the tournament -- was chosen as the Champion Horse of the tournament.

Andre Renier and his award winning Percheron gelding Riley (photo by The Jousting Life)

Sarah Hay, who is also among the top five highest ranked jousters in the world, riding Andre's horse Riley, earned the most points during the tilting portion of the competition (what most people think of when they think of jousting). A video of her tilting against Stacy Wasson was featured in an earlier post.

Sarah Hay riding Riley during the Friday practice before the tournament began
(photo by The Jousting Life)

Steve Hemphill, on his quarterhorse gelding Lucky, won the mounted melee portion of the tournament.

Steve Hemphill with his two horses, Tinkerbell(left) and Lucky(right)(photo by The Jousting Life)

Stacy Wasson, riding the Azteca stallion Solovino(for whom this was his first experience jousting) and Sarah Hay, riding Riley, tied for first in the Mounted Skill at Arms(MSA) portion of the tournament.

Stacy Wasson riding Solovino on the last day of the tournament (photo by The Jousting Life)

You can see video of Stacy's MSA-course ride in an earlier post. Here is video of Sarah Hay's MSA-course ride.

Sarah Hay riding Riley in the MSA-course (video by The Jousting Life)

More pictures and video from the tournament will be posted on The Jousting Life YouTube channel and The Jousting Life Facebook page over the next week or so.

The jousters and crew of "The Grand Tournament of St Charles"(photo by The Jousting Life)

You can see more pictures from the tournament in "The Jousting Life" Facebook page albums:

Festival of the Horse & Drum 2013 Friday Practice

Grand Tournament of St Charles 2013 - Saturday Jousting

Grand Tournament of St Charles 2013 - Sunday Jousting

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mounted Skill at Arms at the Festival of the Horse and Drum

The girls ruled during the Mounted Skill at Arms (MSA) competition this Saturday which was part of "The Grand Tournament of St Charles" which took place at the "Festival of the Horse and Drum" in St. Charles, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Both Sarah Hay and Stacy Wasson had excellent runs. Here is a video of Stacy Wasson's run of the MSA course.

Stacy Wasson runs the MSA course(video by The Jousting Life)

You can find out more about the festival at the "Festival of the Horse and Drum" website.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Happy International I Want To Be Arne Koets Day 3! A day when everyone celebrates the person that everyone apparently wants to be. It was inspired by a fellow on Facebook who posted a picture of Arne Koets jousting and claimed that it was a picture of himself. In honor/parody of that guy, every August 17, people submit pictures of themselves (or whoever/whatever) with Arne Koets' face superimposed on the image in some way. Here are a few pictures that have already been submitted this year:

You can find out more about IIWTBAKD on the Facebook event page.

Practicing for the "Festival of the Horse & Drum"

A short video of one of the practice runs on Friday in preparation for the jousting tournament which will be held as part of the "Festival of the Horse & Drum" in St. Charles, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. The festival is Saturday and Sunday, August 17 & 18, 2013. In this video, Australian jouster Sarah Hay tilts against US jouster Stacy Wasson.

Sarah Hay jousts Stacy Wasson (video by The Jousting Life)

You can find out more about the festival on the "Festival of the Horse & Drum" website.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Random Pic: Getting the Right Shot

Jouster (and videographer?) Steve R. Gagnon makes sure this video camera gets the right shot at the "Arundel Castle International Jousting Tournament"

Steve R. Gagnon works the video camera(photo by Richard Pearn)