BY VANESSA CHILDS ROLLS
If I could live in any other historical era, I would live in the Medieval period. Knights, castles, and horses sound great if you ignore the rampant disease, classism and raging sexism.
So, when the Sydney Horse Expo advertised their full contact jousting competition, I was completely on board and purchased tickets for my entire family, including my son’s friend and my elderly parents.
As the date grew closer, I began to worry about what to expect. I spoke to people who had reservations about attending such an event, but let me tell you in no uncertain terms, the Knights of Valour are awesome! We were not disappointed. The Knights of Valour put on an exciting show full of action and skill.
Shane Adams is Captain and the owner of the Knights of Valour. He is a Canadian Equestrian Team athlete who competes in competitive jousting. He is also the former president of the World Championship Jousting Association. He began as a theatrical jouster for the Toronto Medieval Times dinner show at the age of 23. He later developed full contact jousting as a sport in the 1990s.
Shane also developed the TV show Full Metal Jousting for the History Channel. This reality show featured 16 contestants divided into two teams who compete for a $25,000 prize.
The Knights of Valour travelling show featured six jousters competing in skill competitions and jousting battles. They are Tim Toby, TJ Duquette, Josh Tobey, Jaclyn Zieniak, Tyler Bekolay and Samson Miller. This competitive sport features competitors in full metal armour who ride Clydesdales. The armour can weigh up to 200 pounds. The horses featured in the show are all rescue horses and have a very special bond with their riders.
Shane Adams explained that for the Knights, their horses are teammates: “For people that don’t understand the necessary skill and grueling years of training the knights go through they will of course never understand the measurements of safety implemented to protect the horses from ever getting hit. With that said, fans of my show watched me throw a contestant off of my show for punching a horse. The bond between knight and horse requires immense amounts of trust and I would never let an of my horses question that trust and I will never force a horse into something they are not comfortable with.”
In the skills competition, jousters are timed as they run a gauntlet of challenges that include collecting rings on a jousting pole and cutting an apple with a sword. They then charge a spinning quintain (a wooden replica of a rider). The winning competitor collected the most points in the least amount of time.
The next part of the show is the jousting competition. The goal of the competition is to hit the “gridded grand guard”. This is a large square metal piece of armour that attaches to the jousters shoulder that resembled a shield. To hit the grand guard the jouster gets 1 point. Breaking a lance gets 5 points and unhorsing a rider gets 10 points.
Jousting is one of the hardest hitting sports in the world. It is also one of the few sports where there is no defense. There is something unreal about watching two people in full suits of armour charging at each other on the backs of Clydesdales and then smashing into each other with large wooden poles. At first, I felt guilty about enjoying such a display, but in the context of other sports such as boxing, hockey, or football, this may seem a little trite.