Jousters today are without restriction as to the type of horse they may
use. Types used range from Shetland ponies for the smallest children to Quarter Horses,
Arabians, Paints, even imported draft-size Friesians.
Experienced jousts on the circuit today concur on several desired
characteristics: a level-headed, mid-size to small horse with an extremely smooth canter
work best. A smooth gait allows riders to feel comfortable to raise their stirrups and
assume a position similar to that of a jockey. This allows the motion of the horse to be
absorbed by the riders' knees and lower leg. The upper body becomes virtually motionless.
This position, combined with a steady hand greatly increases the rider's likelihood of
spearing the rings with his lance.
Jousting requires great concentration to catch rings from the back of a
galloping horse. Training and trust go hand in hand when it comes to the jousting horse.
The tournament track can provide many distractions to the horse--flags waving, bands
playing, children, dogs and balloons all add an element of surprise to the event. If your
horse has been trained not to fear these distractions, you have the opportunity to
concentrate on the rings.
Great Horses in Jousting
Jousting horses come in many breeds, sizes and colors. Years of training
go into the making of a great tournament horse. Time spent in the saddle and barn is time
well spent. Practice is the key to excellence in this sport. Knowing your horse and
trusting him is another. Let's meet some of these exceptional jousting horses and their
Misty and Comet - Quarter Horse/Tennessee Walker cross
Misty and Comet belonged to the Enfield family of Frederick
County, Maryland. This photo is from the 1969 National Jousting Championships in
Washington, DC. Leon and Shirley led the Grand Parade that day as the defending National
Champion and his Queen. Leon purchased Misty in 1966 so that his children could begin to
joust. The following year she foaled Comet. Both horses remained on the jousting circuit
until their retirement in 1986. Four members of the Enfield family jousted on these two
horses winning many titles during this time. Leon alone won four National Championships on
Misty. Comet carried Leon's son, Bob to a Maryland State Championship title. Son, Ken, and
daughter, Linda, also competed on these two steady, true horses.
Misty stood barely 14 hands 2", had the most consistent canter of any
horse on the tournament track and was known for her quick starts. Comet was a determined
horse that thundered down the track oblivious to balloons, flags or dogs darting into the
track. Even photographers positioned too close to the track wouldn't phase him. Comet knew
the track belonged to him and he consistently put his rider under the rings. Misty and
Comet were tournament horses, 4-H projects, pets and members of the family. The Enfield
family spent a sad Thanksgiving in 1996 when Comet died of old age. Never to be parted for
long, Misty died quietly within 6 weeks. Both of these wonderful horses are greatly
Stormy - Shetland Pony
Stormy belongs to Craig
Minnick. His uncle, Ken Enfield gave Stormy to Craig so that he wouldn't have to share a
pony with his older brother, Corey. But, fortunately, Craig did share Stormy with Corey
when Corey's pony didn't work out. This very special Shetland pony has been the center of
attention at the Minnick household for ten years now and is enjoying her retirement since
the boys have outgrown her and moved onto bigger horses.
Kids compete on an equal basis with adults in this sport. They must spear
the rings that are hung 6'9" from the ground. Little ponies and short arms sometimes
make this sport difficult for youngsters. A good example of teamwork between pony and
rider was Corey's first year jousting. Just after turning 8 years old, Corey won the
National Novice Jousting Championship in Washington DC on Stormy. That's them in the
picture on the right above. (It's a good thing that Craig was willing to share!)
made his rides smooth and reached up perfectly at each ring. He won out over 23 others
riders including a 17 year old on an Arabian and a 63 year old gentleman on a Quarter
Both boys rode Stormy while they were in the Novice class. There is no
time limit for that level of competition; the gait just has to be greater than a walk.
Corey and Craig always cantered Stormy. Unfortunately, her little legs could not make the
nine second time limit required for upper level competitions. Stormy is quite happy in her
retirement, playing Queen of the Hill with our other horses.
Jasper, big black and white paint horse owned by Wayne Tucker of Frederick
County, Maryland carried Wayne to several Maryland and National Jousting Championship
titles. This large horse was so well attuned to the sport that Wayne often had to fool
Jasper at the start of the track. Jasper seemed to understand when the announcer was
asking Wayne, The Knight of Beauty, to prepare to charge. He would start prancing and
dancing toward the beginning of the track. This strong horse would not be held back so
Wayne had to try pretend that it wasn't his turn under the very last second.
Watch for more stories to come. We will highlight several more
breeds of horses as well as special horses in the sport of Jousting.