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The Art and Craft of Jeff Wasson
Jousting

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Jousting!

My wife and I have been jousting for about 10 years. We started jousting with the MSR horse team (more about that below). Since then we have jousted in other places around the US as well as in France and Belgium.

Here is Stacy preparing to joust in Helecine, Belgium in the summer of 2011.

Here is Jordan Heron (left) representing Canada, and also myself (middle) and Stacy (right) representing the USA in an international joust during the summer of 2010. We are riding in the Sablon Place, in Brussels.

This was a preliminary tournament to the tournament that would take place in Moncley France. The Tournament involved teams from France, Belgium, Norway as well as competitors from Australia and Germany.

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In the joust, Two mounted knights ride at each other with lances. The intention is to hit the opposing rider and either break your lance or dismount him. In the style of jousting that we participate in, the objective is just to break your lance on the shield of your opponent. A fence, called a tilt seperates the horses and keeps them from colliding.

This joust is taking place at the Chateau of Riveau in the Loire Valley of France. We are jousting in the dry moat! you can see one of the towers of the castle in the background.

As well as jousting, knights on horseback like to show off there skills. Here I am about to cut an apple with a sword.
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Stacy at Helecine, Belgium. A full suit of armour really hides the identity of the wearer, so knights have heraldry to proclaim who they are. A shield displays the coat of arms, the colors of which are repeated in a plume and also the "caparison" -- a cloth that covers the horse.
Here you can see someone getting blasted! That someone is me, getting struck really hard by Graham Nixon from New Zealand. This was at the Tournament of the Pheonix in San Diego.

So even though the lances have balsa wood inserts that break on imapact, the hits can be really hard! Yes I did manage to stay in the saddle! Jousting is about taking really big hits as well as giving them! This is not a sport for the feint of heart.

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My Wife and I have been jousting since 2002 as part of the MSR jousting team. MSR is short for Medieval Scenarios and Recreations, A historical society based in the NY tristate area that allows members to explore and recreate the middle ages. The organization owns the horses and stables them at Sands Point Preserve. Every September We put on a medieval faire with a jousting show at the Sands Point Preserve.
We wear replicas of real armour (not fake costumes). We use solid wood lances with balsa wood inserts. When we joust we are really trying to hit eachother; this is not a choreographed show but a demonstration of an early to mid 15th c. joust. We attempt to re-create the pageantry, skill and excitement of historical jousts.
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As well as training ourselves and our mounts many preparations must be made before we can joust. All the weapons must be maintained, the fence set-up and the horses attended-to.

There are many support people in our ground crew that make it possible for the joust to happen.

During the year the horses must be cared for and exercised. Months prior to the show we train with the horses and get our equipment ready. All are volunteers who devote their time to make this happen.

The Sands Point Nature Preserve is the setting for our faire. Here you can see the crowd that has come to see the joust. Behind them is Hempstead House, a gothic stone mansion built at the turn of the century. (and it's just the guest house!)

To the right is the jousting field (Tilt) and opposite of Hempstead House is the Long Island sound.

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As part of our training, and the show, we practice four games of skill: the quintain, the rings, spears, and swordsmanship from horseback.

The quintain is a target mounted on a swinging arm that the rider hits with the lance as they canter by. It is a training exercise to gain practice and aim with the lance.

Here Stacy is about to impact!

Another game of skill is the rings. We ride down the list and try to lance the rings - 3 per pass. smaller rings are introduced after each pass.

This exercise teaches accuracy, targeting and control of the lance.

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Cabbage slicing! In this game of skill we demonstrate swordsmanship from horseback.

In our show we used to start with cabbages, then apples and then end up with something really small; radishes! Stacy has sliced a radish right in half!

All of these games of skill culminate in the joust.

After a quick break, we don our helmets and shields and ready the horses for the joust.

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We make a pass and Stacy makes a hit!

Our lances are made of pine with a vamplate to protect the hand. At the business end is a socket for a 3 foot balsa wood insert. The balsa is scored or cut so that when we strike it will shatter. At the very end is a 3 pronged coronel made of rubber. Historically the coronel was made of steel and acted to grab on to it's target so the knight could break his lance. Coronels were used for jousts of peace; Spear points were used for jousts of war.

Another pass and we break lances!

(Larger size video here).

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2006 -- Stacy blasts me with her lance!

Our jousts are not choreographed; we strive to break as many lances as we can for the enjoyment of the crowd. A joust takes great skill; in horsemanship, in the handling of the lance and the mastery of ones fears. Anything can happen at a Joust. A rider could be knocked off! The horses could refuse to run! Or a lance could penetrate a shield! -- These all make it an exciting sport.

In the Fall of 2005 a scored balsa lance punctured my shield! As I came to the end of my pass, I had worried ground crew asking me if I was OK. The shield was made of half inch plywood.

This is why we wear full plate armour. This also shows some of the dangers involved in jousting.

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A Medieval saddle, based on the remenants of the Henry V saddle. After some modification, it saw use last year (2006). The seat is a little on the hard side, but it offered a secure riding platform. My groin was protected by the high pommel from low lance strikes and the high cantle kept me secure from being knocked off the back.

I've slowly been tinkering with this saddle and now find it extremely comfortable and perfect for jousting.

The second medieval saddle that I began at the end of last summer. After playing around with different seat configurations, I decided to make a seat of canvas stuffed with hay-- just as in the original.

Much to my surprise the seat was fantastic! The hay had just enough give to make it comfortable, -- and over time it would conform to the riders' bottom. And it had enough solidity to support the rider. Not for everyone, or for every use. This saddle forces the rider to ride almost standing in a two point position.

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Sadly, In the spring of 2012 the MSR jousting team had to be dissolved. Due to the politics of the county and the people running the preserve the MSR was pushed out of Sands Point Preserve. After 30 years of the Sands Point Medieval Festival entertaining Long Island, it is no more.

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