Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pin Oak Charity Horse Show & Joust

First off, no, I'm not dead yet. Between having company in town, being super-sick for more than a week, and having my computer croak on me, blogging has been at the bottom of my to-do list. But I'm feeling better, and hubby resuscitated my laptop, so hopefully it's back to regular blog posts!

When we last left off, we were heading for the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show to do a jousting demo...

Through some People Who Know People, and the generosity of a very wonderful sponsor, A' Plaisance, LTD, which is run by a good friend of ours, was invited to put on a jousting exhibition on opening night of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. This is a really big deal for jousting in the U.S. - the Pin Oak show is a huuuge multi-discipline show, with over 1500 competitors and 2000 horses. Participating in the show opens up the potential for jousting to move from its niche in Renaissance Festivals, dinner shows, and extreme sports to a more accessible, mainstream sport. Of course, I doubt the folks on the six-figure A hunters are going to want to participate, but it's still awesome to be able to show off that we're real riders on real horses who just happen to be in armor instead of Ariat hunt coats.

We've been rehearsing our 30 minute "show" since the beginning of the year. Even though what we do is not choreographed, in that we never know who is going to break a lance in the joust or who is going to hit whom in the mounted combat, we wanted to make sure the horses and riders knew what was expected and that the show would run smoothly. Just like with other disciplines, there are days when the best jousting horse decides he's not into it (Oberon did this last week and had to be headed into the lane), or when the most Feerless War Pony decides he's had enough. We'd tried different horse/rider combinations, different horse/horse combinations for the jousting runs, and different lineups for riding 3 abreast for our grand entrance.  We'd polished our armor, our horses were decked out to the nines, and we had a plan.

We had a mounted combat demo Wednesday and Thursday mornings for groups of school children, and they loved us. The combat was made even more fun that usual because we did it in an arena full of jumps, and the obstacles added an extra element to the game. Red was CERTAIN we were in there to jump things, but we stuck to the script and only whacked people with swords.

The main show was Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. We had a bit of a challenge with warming up, because none of the horses at the show have ever seen a horse in a caparison with an armored rider before. But apparently freaking out other horses was not enough - Red decided to take exception to the announcer and the tractor dragging the arena, and one of our many FANTASTIC ground crew had to hold his head and pet him to keep him from losing his marbles. Of course Oberon and Taran acted like they were in big coliseum-style arenas every day, lol!

The joust went off without a hitch. Hubby and his opponent hit 5 runs out of 5, and Oberon and Taran both ran straight and true. Oberon probably did not have to be headed into the lane, but we didn't want to take any chances in front of an audience. Red was NOT PLEASED that he had to stand while his buddies jousted, so we made a lot of circles while they did their runs. The next two exhibitors also had flawless runs and hard hits, until a strap broke on a shield. The jousters retired since we could not fix the equipment on the spot, and we moved on to the next portion of the show.

One of the jousters takes lesson from Pam Fowler-Grace... yes, THAT Pam Fowler-Grace, the one whose Grand Prix dressage horse, Pay-N-Go, is a Bryer model. She graciously agreed to perform a Grand Prix freestyle - to medieval music! - aboard her (now retired) horse Stars-In-Stripes. While she was performing, the jousters had their shields and jousting faceplates removed, courtesy of our amazing ground crew, and the jousting lane came down in record time.

Once Pam was done, we did our final mounted combat exhibition. Red was his usual zoomy attack-pony self, and we had a lot of good exchanges. I was super-lucky to be riding him, since my sword work isn't terribly good - you can make up for a lot if you have a good mount! We finished with our exit parade to a good round of applause by the audience.

The horse show raises money for children's hospitals, and this year there was a special little girl named Caydee that the show was sponsoring. Through the Make-A-Wish foundation, she had asked to be a princess and have knights joust for her - well, she got to be a princess at Disney, and we were the knights jousting for her! While she was unable to actually be there for the joust, it was for a wonderful reason. Two days before the show, she got her long-awaited lung transplant! She is apparently doing very well and was excited to receive the pink scarves (favors) we all wore during the joust, as well as the big card we all signed for her. It was super-special to be able to participate in something for such a special little girl.

There aren't very many pictures of the joust because the lighting in the arena was very low and the photos were all quite blurry. The few pictures that do exist are currently in private Facebook groups, so I can't share them. However, there's a few pictures on the Pin Oak Opening Knight Facebook page.

There's also a short bit from a KTRK Houston news broadcast, beginning at 1:20 (sorry, Blogger wouldn't let me embed the video).

Now that we're done with the demo, jousting will take a back seat until fall. After April or so, it simply gets too hot here to wear all the armor that's required. Besides, I HAVE A NEW PONY who will be taking up some blogging space in the near future... ;)


  1. Huzza to the Fearless War Pony! I saw jousting at a Renaissance Festival and loved it!
    So cool that you jousters were able to send Caydee some cheer. Huzza to the jousters!

  2. Yay jousting! With any luck i will get to watch y'all joust there next year :)