Jousting at Ealdormere's Murder Melee

Baroness Anne von Talstadt of Ben Dunfirth reports on experimental jousting activities at the Murder Melee event which was held recently in the Barony.

Baroness Anne writes:

For those who aren't aware, the SCA is experimenting with a relatively safe form of jousting.  When I say safe, I mean that the lances are designed to break with minimal impact, so there is little chance of being knocked off by your opponent.  However, as Lord Tarquinius Bjornsson found out, that doesn't mean you can't be unhorsed.

After court at Murder Melee in the Meadow, an event hosted by the Barony of Ben Dunfirth, we retired to the orchard, where we had held hound coursing earlier on that day.  Alistair Kirk, Baron of Ben Dunfirth, and myself briefed the volunteer staff as we armoured up.  SCA heavy-combat armour, if it includes a breastplate, is generally sufficient protection according to the current experimental rules.  We had decided to do about 6 passes, after the initial "safety" passes to ensure the horses were warmed up and running straight.  We didn't keep count, but I think Alistair and I did a good deal more than 6.

It is harder to hit a moving target from a moving target than you might think.  Also, you have only the split second after the time your opponent's horse's head moves past your lance tip to aim.  Alistair was the victor of the day.  He bested me (as he has jousted before in non-SCA tournaments, coming second in his most recent) and Tarquin, who was also a first-time jouster, though an experienced rider.  The horses we used were Gloucestre, a horse just trained to be ridden since last september, and the SCA's own Spike, who has been doing SCA games for 10 years, since he was two, but dislikes jousting a fair amount.  Due to inexperience and some trepidation, the horses were not running straight, and swerving away from the opponent, making the aiming thing a great deal more difficult.  Still, Alistair and myself both shattered our tips the final pass, making it a satisfying ending for me.

I offer my humble gratitude to our autocrat Countess Rustique de Sorde for allowing us to try this, and to our Earl Marshal Viscount Edward the Red for his support.  I extend my thanks also to Bruceton and Tarquin, (our horse-wrangler groundsmen), Etaoin and Aelfwyn, our judges, Tannen and Grimmroth, our callers, and our wonderful lance prep teams.  I'm afraid I am blanking on some names at this point... Chalk it up to the stress of jousting for the first time.

We had only four lance holders, so the tips had to be prepared for each run. You had the time it took for a horse to run 180 feet to get the next one ready.  It took some doing!

I really enjoyed it, and intend to repeat the experience at Murder Melee in the Meadow XXII, though it occurs to us that the Friday night might have less conflicts for attendees.  Ealdormere's Earl Marshal was in attendance and had no safety concerns about the joust.

If anyone has any pictures (I know some video was taken) I would appreciate getting copies!  I will pay for any expenses incurred....  Also, for any interested in equestrian activities in Ealdormere, feel free to contact me, or to subscribe to the Ealdormere discussion group.  

Rowan (Baroness Anne von Talstadt of Ben Dunfirth)
steph@mcmaster.ca