The Jousting Life

Monday, March 31, 2014

David Schade Wins Sherwood Forest Faire Jousting Tournament 2014

This past Saturday and Sunday, March 29 & 30, were the last days of the 2014 Sherwood Forest Faire. As has become tradition, instead of the usual jousting show, the last weekend of faire featured a competitive jousting tournament. Seven jousters participated this year, including jousters from the New Riders of the Golden Age, the Knights of Mayhem, the Knights of Valour and others. David Schade, the leader of the New Riders of the Golden Age, was the winner of this year's jousting tournament. Because he had been performing as Sir William Dudley during the run of the faire, he was referred to as Sir William during the competition as well.

David Schade on his Clydesdale mare Christine(photo by Suzanne DeMink)

On the last day of the tournament, David Schade came into the final session of jousting having lost not a single match. Both Charlie Andrews and Eddie Rigney entered the final session with a single loss each. So Charlie and Eddie faced off in the first match of the session to see who would advance to compete with David for tournament champion. During the second pass Charlie's lance positively disintegrated from the power of his strike, and after five passes, Charlie had won the match and the chance to advance.

Charlie Andrews shatters his lance against Eddie Rigney(video by The Jousting Life)

The final match between Charlie and David was very evenly matched. Only the first pass did not include a lance break, though both competitors struck their opponent fairly. In the second pass, both competitors broke their lances against one another. In the third pass, Charlie broke his lance, and in the fourth and fifth pass, David broke his. A sixth pass was run, and both competitors again broke both their lances. At the end of the match, David was the winner of the match by one lance break and was declared the Champion of the Sherwood Forest Faire Jousting Tournament.

You can see video of all six passes on The Jousting Life YouTube Channel, but here is the jousting pass that put David Schade in the lead and eventually led to his winning the tournament:

David Schade breaks his lance and Charlie doesn't during the fifth pass of the final match
(video by The Jousting Life)

David rode a Clydesdale mare named Christine throughout the tournament. Christine is 18 hands tall, 19 years old and has been jousting with the New Riders of the Golden Age for 10 years. Below, David poses with Christine while wearing the sash he was awarded for winning the tournament and gives her a kiss in appreciation for her partnership in the joust.(In case you are wondering, the sash reads,"Joust Master of the Universe.")
[EDIT 4-1-14: David sent me a message about the sash: "I feel like I should point out that the sash was made by some of my teammates as a joke. Which I wore proudly. It wasn't actually awarded for winning." -- David Schade]

David Schade and his Clydesdale mare Christine(photos by The Jousting Life)

Coming in second by a single lance break was Charlie Andrews, leader of the Knights of Mayhem.  Charlie is probably best known from the National Geographic tv series, "Knights of Mayhem" which followed him the other members of his jousting troupe to several tournaments. However, Charlie has also been featured in a number of articles on The Jousting Life.

Charlie Andrews on his Belgian gelding Jaegermeister(photo by Pamela Morgan)

Charlie's horse Jaegermeister is a fan favorite. He even had his own cheering section who frequently chanted his name throughout the tournament. Jaegermeister is 13 year old, 16.3 hand, Belgian gelding.

Jaegermeister carries Charlie Andrews down the list after a massive double lance break against David Schade(photo by The Jousting Life)

Eddie Rigney of the Knights of Valour came in third. Eddie always wears pink in some form when he jousts in honor of his mother and others who are fighting breast cancer. Eddie's jousting career is currently sponsored by Palmetto Moonshine, Fish Stalker Lures and Monster Energy Drink. You can read more about Eddie in this article about him.

Eddie Rigney(photos by The Jousting Life(left) and Pamela Morgan(right))

Eddie could not bring a horse of his own, so Charlie Andrews graciously allowed Eddie to ride Arthur, one of the Knights of Mayhem's horses. Arthur is a 12 year old, 17.1 hand, Percheron gelding.

Arthur charges down the tilt, carrying Eddie in a match against David Schade on Christine
(photo by The Jousting Life)

Two other competitors made it all the way through the tournament, Joshua Warren of the Knights of Mayhem and Ryan Scammon of the New Riders of the Golden Age. Joshua rode Thor, a 10 year old, 17 hand, Paint/Belgian cross gelding. Ryan rode Marcus, a 20 year old, 18 hand, Percheron gelding.

Joshua Warren(left) and Ryan Scammon(right)(photos by Pamela Morgan)

Joshua Warren is unhorsed by David Schade(video by The Jousting Life)

Ryan Scammon is unhorsed by Charlie Andrews(video by The Jousting Life)

Unfortunately, two other competitors were unable to complete the tournament, James Johnson and Elizabeth Jones. Although James Johnson was still recovering from surgery on his left shoulder performed just 7 weeks earlier where he had to have several tendons re-attached and 5 screws implanted, he was determined to joust at Sherwood. Unfortunately, after the dramatic double unhorsing during the 2pm session the first day of the tournament, he not only aggravated his shoulder, but also damaged his hand and was unable to continue to compete. (You can see a picture and video of this pass in a previous article.) Even though he was in pain from his injuries and disappointed at having to withdraw from the tournament, he still wanted to express how grateful he was to Charlie Andrews for mentoring him in the sport of competitive jousting.

James Johnson riding Thor(photo by The Jousting Life)

Elizabeth Jones also had to limit her jousting during the competition. She had injured her back during a practice session a couple of weeks before, and when she and Ryan Scammon knocked each other off their horses during the noon session of jousting on the first day of the tournament, she aggravated her previous injury and decided to sit out the rest of that day's jousting. On the second day of the tournament, she again rode only in the noon session of jousting. [Unfortunately, due to illness, I missed both noon sessions of the tournament and did not get any pictures or video of Elizabeth jousting.]

Elizabeth Jones(photo by Merland Pernetter)

The Sherwood Forest Faire Jousting Tournament continues to be quite popular. The stands were packed for both days of the tournament, and the audience was loudly enthusiastic. You can find out more about the faire and their jousting tournament on the Sherwood Forest Faire website and Facebook page. And don't forget to 'like' The Jousting Life Facebook page in order to keep up with the latest news, pictures and videos.

The jousters are introduced to the audience before the joust(photo by The Jousting Life)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

First Day of the Sherwood Forest Faire Jousting Tournament 2014

Saturday, March 29 was the first day of the two day competitive jousting tournament held at Sherwood Forest Faire. Jousters from the New Riders of the Golden Age and the Knights of Mayhem jousting troupes as well as a couple of jousters unaffiliated with either troupe were there to compete. There were some spectacular hits including two double unhorsings.

Eddie Rigney(left) and James Johnson(right) unhorse each other(photo by The Jousting Life)

Eddie Rigney and James Johnson unhorse each other(video by The Jousting Life)

Charlie Andrews(left) breaks his lance against Ryan Scammon(photo by The Jousting Life)

Charlie Andrews(left) breaks his lance against Ryan Scammon(video by The Jousting Life)

The tournament continues on Sunday, March 30. For more information about the faire and the jousting tournament, check out the Sherwood Forest Faire website and Facebook page.

[Editor's comment: The jouster facing Charlie Andrews in the picture and video was previously mis-identified as David Schade. It is actually Ryan Scammon. My only excuse is that I created this post at the end of a long day at the faire while struggling to overcome a massive sinus infection. I offer my sincere apologies to both David and Ryan.]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Joust For Fun: Life in Armour

Thomas Andersen of Norway who is a member of the jousting troupe Ordo Ignis, created this fun video.

The Knight's Christmas(video by Thomas Andersen)

In 2010, Thomas Andersen decided to make an unusual advent calendar, one different than those normally seen on Norwegian television. It was the off-season for jousting, and Thomas was feeling a bit creative, thus ”The Knights Christmas” was born. The plot: The crazy knight from the north, Thomas Andersen, tries a variety of every day modern activities while wearing armour. The above promo video is a compilation of scenes from the entire series of advent videos.

You can see more of Thomas' videos, including his advent videos, on his YouTube channel, "Thomas The Knight".

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Re-Creating Medieval and Renaissance Saddles: Part Two

Written by: Arne Koets
Edited by: Zhi Zhu

Continued from: Re-Creating Medieval and Renaissance Saddles: Part One

The historic war saddles created by Joram van Essen and Wouter Nicolai have become our favourite saddles. In my personal case, the saddle that Joram made for my horse Maximilian has been instrumental in some of the more ambitious dressage training, as it helped my seat to such an extent that the horse went much better under it than any other saddle.

Arne Koets and Joram van Essen demonstrate mounted combat using their historic war saddles(video by Ben van Koert/Kaos Historical Media)

The saddles seem much smaller than you would expect for either the man or the horse, yet they fit very well. This is one of the reasons most people working from photographs make the reproductions much too big. Having said that, some of the original saddles were for some very narrow (and/or small) horses. For instance, I myself am 193cm(apx 6' 4") tall, yet my saddle has a seat length of about 34 cm, (just over 13”), and when measured in the same way as a modern saddle, potentially less, yet it works fine, even with armour.

Arne Koets sits in his historic war saddle on his Andalusian gelding Maximilian at Nyborg 2013
(photo by Isis Sturtewagen)

When riding in these war saddles, the leg is really close to the horse, as the upper leg is not impeded by a broad tree or lots of padding and leather, yet the surface area in contact with the horse is large. According to Wouter Nicolai:

"A large contact surface means that the weight of the rider is divided over a much larger area, making it easier, and more comfortable for the horse to carry the (armoured) rider. This is especially true when a rider gets hit and transfers part of the force of impact to the horse (in the joust for example). In that situation, the historic war saddle is more efficient than any modern saddle to keep the horse safe from excessive pressure on the back.

Looking carefully at the shape of medieval saddle, one will notice that the contact surface is especially large at the back section of the saddle; this is where the force of impact to a rider who gets hit is transferred to. A second purpose of the larger contact surface, is to keep the saddle in place and prevent it from shifting to the side. This is essential, because no saddle should ever press directly on the spine of a horse. I think it is fair to say that the large contact surface, especially at the back of the saddle is one of, if not the most important feature of a late medieval war saddle." -- Wouter Nicolai

Furthermore, the solid seat is relatively narrow in front, allowing a slightly better angle of the rider's femur. Also, the slope of the front of the seat is such as to roll the riders hips back so as to sit in the center of gravity. In addition, the cantle is positioned to keep the center of gravity in the correct spot for the horses' anatomy.

The front section of the boards comes down quite a lot, yet less then it looks like in photos of the originals when seen on display. This means that the front Arçon plate comes down the leg and provides support and helps (again) to open the hip, even better then modern dressage saddles hold the rider.

Arne Koets sits in his historic war saddle on his Andalusian gelding Maximilian at Bexbach 2012
(photo by Franziska Schatek)

When done correctly, the support around the front of the saddle allows mounting from the ground, even with no girth, without the saddle rocking precariously -- mounting from a step is always better for the horse -- but it is possible. Both front and back tree come down the sides of the horse, and they support the saddle in an impact so it does not rotate horizontally and thereby hurt the horse's loins.

Once Joram had his ‘little’ breakthrough, and we started riding with the saddles, there were several things that surprised me:
  • how well the horses go under these saddles in bending exercises (shoulder-in, haunches-in, Half-pass, etc)
  • how easy it is to fit the saddle to different horses
  • how often I have seen horses go MUCH better under these saddles then treeless and dressage saddles
  • how much it tends to improve a riders' seat and thereby his ability to ride harder exercises
  • how much MORE knee action the horses offer (these saddles have adequate shoulder freedom, but particularly encourage the rider to sit more 'collecting' thereby giving greater freedom to the horse to throw his legs out from the driving back leg.
  • how comfortable they are, in particular in armour on long rides
  • how much better armour works in them:
    • The front allows much better interaction with the tassets and fauld.
    • The armour is MUCH more quiet, both in terms of 'Tasset flap' and 'mail scratch'.
    • The leg lies much better. The cuisse can be pushed out by broad saddles, like Portuguese saddles, meaning that leg use in armour is almost impossible sometimes, whereas in these saddles one forgets one wears armour.
  • how little the 'high' arçon plate impedes the rein hand, because it is not just bolted onto a saddle, thereby sitting much closer to the belly of the rider.

These saddles are very short, overall, and thereby fit the short coupled horses we prefer quite well, yet many short modern saddles dig into the back. When they have a straight back edge it is clear, but with a dressage saddle it is less apparent but equally true. If you think about a dressage saddle, it is shaped like a rider's bum, yet the medieval saddle is shaped like the horse's loin.

One of the final pieces to the puzzle was how to make sure you could fold back onto the horse, or put all your weight back, yet not dig into the horse's loin. This allows very deliberate use of the seat which helps a lot in more collected work.

The back and 'ears' of Arne's historic war saddle sit under his maille skirt(breyette) allowing close contact between his seat and his saddle(photo by Asa Cidh)

These war saddles work better for taller horses (15-16 hands or potentially larger) as opposed to the raised seat saddles, which to me seem conceived for smaller horses. The much lower (but still narrow) seat allows much closer feeling of the seat to the horse -- both more feedback and more opportunity for aids. This would fit well with the archeological record which shows Dutch finds of male horses of up to 161cm(apx 15.3 hands) height in a context of the siege of Utrecht in the second half of the fifteenth century, much(inches) taller than most evidence seems to point to in earlier periods.

What is also surprising is how light these saddles are, (and how light un-armoured original examples are), they are generally less than half the weight of a regular GP[general purpose, in the US an AP(all purpose)] saddle, which is a nice bonus as we are already adding up quite a lot of weight with large riders and heavy armour with regards to the horses’ carrying capabilities.

After this little rant it must be said that although I myself have been involved in the research, most credit must go to Joram van Essen and Wouter Nicolai with their repeated attempts and dogged determination to reproduce viable saddles with which to make these experiences, and in particular Joram's breakthrough in 2011, when all of the major problems disappeared in quick succession.

Arne Koets and Joram van Essen joust at Sankt Wendel 2012(photo by Hanno van Harten)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Re-Creating Medieval and Renaissance Saddles: Part One

Written by: Arne Koets
Edited by: Zhi Zhu

Over the last 15 years our loose band of jousting brothers, including Joram van Essen, Wouter Nicolai and myself among others, have been doing research and conducting various experiments regarding Medieval and Renaissance saddles and their use in contemporary jousting and mounted combat.

At first we mostly experimented with modified cavalry saddles of various kinds. These experiments gave rise to problems as the proportions were clearly wrong. All sorts of problems arose as a result of these modified saddles looking all right but being grossly out of proportion. This included the Royal Armouries ‘facsimile’ saddles, as we started to call them.

Later, we got the opportunity to examine and measure a number of historic saddles:  the 'Elfenbein' saddle in the Royal Armouries,

Saddle VI.95, 'Elfenbein' saddle, 'riding' style, 15th century Hungarian saddle, in the Royal Armouries(photo from Royal Armouries)

the saddles in the Wallace collection, including the A21 when it was off display,

Equestrian Armour A21, featuring a 'war' saddle, in the Wallace Collection
(photo from The Wallace Collection)

the Arundel saddle and others. Various actual re-creations of these saddles were attempted over time.

The first attempts were mostly based around the raised seat concept of the so called ‘Henry V’ saddle and the Madrid saddle. The 'Henry V' saddle has an iron bar supporting the seat much like the wooden parts of the tree in Hohenzeug saddles(the saddles with the huge shields built into the fronts). Though there is some doubt as to whether this feature is original, it has shown to have some interesting effects.

The Henry V funeral saddle, in Westminster Abbey Museum(photo from Westminster Abbey)

Due to raising the seat, the weight of the rider acts as a lever, so that when any seat aid is applied, it is amplified. Unfortunately, it means that unbalanced riders are more detrimental to their horses. This is why I tend to call this style ‘the curb bit of saddles’.

This style of saddle does help greatly to get a good lower leg connection with the horse, especially when riding smaller horses. The raised seat makes it much easier for men over 180cm(apx 6') tall(not uncommon for nobility of the period, as archeological evidence from grave sites clearly shows) to ride horses under 15 hands high(so common in medieval times). However, the rider does lose the contact between the horse and the rider's inner thigh, meaning that the rider must depend more on the effect of the bit. Of course, guiding a horse using only the bit can be done to a high degree, as long rein work from classical dressage(and higher driving dressage, for that matter) clearly shows.

The style of riding necessitated by the raised seat saddle seems to be what Duarte describes in his treatise as the 'Third Style' of riding -- "those who ride firm and erect on the stirrups" -- frequently referred to as the 'a la brida' style of riding. This style of riding is commonly depicted, in particular in the second half of the 14th and the first quarter of the 15th century, but other styles of riding and saddles are also depicted throughout this time period.

Dr. Tobias Capwell riding 'a la brida' in a raised seat saddle(photo by unknown)

However, many problems arose when we experimented with these raised seat saddles. They were uncomfortable, they could shift on the horses’ backs as a result of impact or imbalance, they were hard to fit, etc...So we decided that this style of saddle was not optimal for what we were trying to do and looked for other historic styles of saddles that might work better.

Two other styles of saddles that looked interesting enough to experiment with were what we came to call the ‘riding’ saddles and the ‘war' saddles of 'Bravante' style. Based on the description in Dom Duarte's treatise, we interpreted the ‘Bravante’ saddles to mean saddles similar in shape to the A21 saddle (which is a 16th century example) and one of the Vienna saddles(which is clearly datable to the middle of the 15th century, see photo below). The terms 'riding' and 'war' might be ambiguous, but they are at least descriptive.

We called the saddles with 'ears' enveloping the hips more extensively ‘war saddles’.

'Elfenbein' saddle, 'war' style, in the Kunst Historisches Museum Vienna
(photo by Andrea Carloni(Rimini))

The ‘riding’ saddles are the saddles shaped like all but two of the ‘Elfenbein’ saddles, (which are actually not covered in ivory, as the German term suggests, but bone).

'Elfenbein' saddle A408, 'riding' style, in The Wallace Collection
(photo from The Wallace Collection)

It has to be noted that there are depictions of the ‘riding’ saddles being used in war, both by half armoured (fairly common) and fully armoured (fairly uncommon) men, and also for jousting. Also, the 'war' saddles are depicted being used for civilian purposes by riders in plain clothes, as in one of of the Schilling Chronicles (Tschachtlanchronik of 1470). However, the numbers are very skewed towards their named uses.

Bearing in mind medieval issues of logistics, it makes perfect sense that a saddle was generally transported by the animal it was meant to be worn by. Therefore one had to make do with what one had at hand. Also, it seems reasonable that some fighters only could afford a 'riding' saddle and not an additional 'war' saddle, which would explain why depictions of the half armoured fighters make up 1/3 of the depictions of 'riding' saddles.

Both these saddle types derive from the same side board layout, however, and both types are made as continual composite blocks of wood.

Many pieces of wood are combined to form the composite that creates the saddle's form
(photo by Joram van Essen)

(Although the later 16th century examples of these war saddles are made of just the side boards with the seat shape made of felt, covered in leather… and they are just as hard to the touch.)

This side board layout is where the plot thickens:  the side boards are an inverted u-shape. Meaning that the side boards are comparatively narrow in the middle, but much wider in the front and back of the saddle, ‘drooping’ down the sides of the horse.

The side boards are the parts of the saddle that form an inverted U against the sides of the horse and that support the seat of the saddle(photo by Arne Koets)

This is similar to the shape of the cushions on Iberian saddles, yet, unlike the Iberian saddles, this shape is actually part of the trees in these historic saddles, and thereby interact with the horse in different ways.

Most professional saddlers we initially talked to took one look at the photos and immediately (by misinterpreting the scale) assumed that these saddle boards would restrict the horse very badly. The professionals shied away from the project in droves. It was the work some re-enactors -- Robert McPherson among others -- did in attempting to re-create these historic saddles that made real contributions to our understanding of what we were looking at when we handled the originals.

Based on the information gathered from historic sources and contemporary re-enactors, Joram van Essen and Wouter Nicolai made a plethora of experimental saddles with varying levels of success. Unlike other re-enactors who were trying to incorporate modern saddlery into historic looking saddles, Joram and Wouter were much more ambitious about their experiments and goals of historical correctness, trying to make their saddles as close to the originals as possible. What was learned from these initial reproductions led to the development of ergonomic and effective saddles that are not only historical, but also ergonomic to the horse and rider.

Joram and Wouter's historically based saddles will be discussed further in:
Re-Creating Medieval and Renaissance Saddles: Part Two

Monday, March 17, 2014

Creating the Tools to Make Armour

Not only is armour not something you can just run down to the local store and buy off the rack, even the tools to create armour are not kept in stock at your local hardware store. In this series of photos, Eric Dube' of Armure Dube' is creating a pair of specialized hammers to use in his armour making business.

Start with a blank piece of steel(photo by Armure Dube')

Use a century old power hammer to begin shaping your new hammer(photo by Armure Dube')

Mark where you want the handle of your hammer to go(photo by Armure Dube')

Pound a hole through the steel(photo by Armure Dube')

The hole where the handle of the hammer will go(photo by Armure Dube')

Chop off the bits you no longer need(photo by Armure Dube')

See how far we've gotten(photo by Armure Dube')

Heat things up again(photo by Armure Dube')

Shape the tip of the hammer(photo by Armure Dube')

The hammer heads(photo by Armure Dube')

Attach the handles(photo by Armure Dube')

Polish the hammer heads to a mirror shine(photo by Armure Dube')

The hammers are ready to use(photo by Armure Dube')

When asked about creating his own hammers, Eric stated:
"I decided to forge myself a series of specialized hammers: raising, planashing, and all purpose hammers, and will be needing extra hammers because I will start giving classes this spring on armoring at the Montreal Forges." -- Eric Dube'

The hammers created in this series of photographs are planashing hammers. What are planashing hammers used for? When you have finished the rough form of a piece of armour, you planash it to iron out all the dents before sanding and polishing.

To see more pictures of Eric's work, check out his Facebook page, Armure Dube'. You can also see Eric's wonderful videos of the armour making process on his YouTube channel.

And don't forget to check out The Jousting Life's Facebook page where other pictures, videos and links to articles about jousting are posted.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Random Pic: Fearing No Foe, a Tribute to 'The Jousting Artist' Graham Turner

This picture of jouster Arne Koets and his Andalusian gelding Maximilian is a photographic tribute to the painting "Fearing No Foe" by 'The Jousting Artist' Graham Turner.

Arne Koets in a photographic tribute to Graham Turner's painting "Fearing No Foe"
(photo by Anett Findeklee)

Professional photographer Anett Findeklee of Germany had read about Arne's 'crazy' life in the newspaper. Since Arne worked at the Hofreitschule not far from where Anett lived, they got together to take some pictures:
"I'm a photo journalist. I want to tell stories about humans, their lives, places, etc... Normally, I photograph reportages, series, essays. But the tribute to "Fearing No Foe" was also a great fairy tale." -- Anett Findeklee

Here is the painting that inspired the photograph.

"Fearing No Foe" by artist Graham Turner(photo from Studio 88)

And here is what Graham Turner himself had to say about the painting:

"This is the painting that started my diversification into medieval art twenty years ago. Having been freelance for eight years, mostly painting pictures of racing cars, I knew deep down that I needed to do something different to what my father was so well known for, and this was the result. More a fantasy painting really, an Arthurian knight errant riding through an ancient forest. I knew very little about armour at the time (so don’t be too critical!), and even less about history, but this sparked off that interest that quickly snowballed into something of an obsession!" -- Graham Turner

Graham's interest in knights and jousting led him to actually learn to joust himself. He trained with the English jousting troupe Destrier(see recent article about Destrier's joust training) and eventually competed in several tournaments. In 2010, he won the Queen's Jubilee Horn Trophy. You can read more about Graham's experiences training for and competing in the joust in the section "The Jousting Artist" of the Studio 88 website.

Graham Turner, the jousting artist, on his horse Magic(photo from Studio 88)

You can see more of Graham's historical artwork, including his jousting paintings, on the website for Studio 88. You can also buy giclee prints, canvas prints or greeting cards of his work.