Training the Rider

It is impossible for Your Majesty, when exercising, not to ride gracefully and not to be a good Cavalryman, as he takes great pleasure in sitting up straight in the middle of the saddle, legs taut in the stirrups, not only when tilting at the ring, but also during all other activities on horseback. Grace is truly the chief goal of a Horseman. For men and women can only judge by means of their eyes...
- Antoine de Pluvinel

To succeed in jousting, one must have a solid foundation in good horsemanship. Safe jousting is only possible with a competent and skilled rider. Even if jousting is your ultimate goal, start with the basics -- a good seat, clear cues, and the ability to instill confidence into your horse.

Practice jousting by practicing riding

You will be best poised for success if your relationship with your horse is built on mutual respect and familiarity. Ride as often as you can, get used to reading the moods of your horse. Learn where their limits are so that you can be sure not to exceed them on the tournament field. Learn to differentiate between your horse enjoying itself and being excited versus being scared. Learn what calms them down and what gets them excited, so that you can take advantage of both as appropriate.

As much as you can, seek out those who are more skilled in the art of classical riding and learn from them. The best riders are still taking riding lessons, and continuing to learn under the supervision of someone whose technique they respect. A perspective from the ground can be the critical link that will help you develop the skills you will help you effectively control your horse in the heat of the joust.

Work on your riding skills first, without armor and without joust training. Key skills to work on include:

  • Standing quietly while paying attention and ready to move out quickly
  • Canter departs from a standstill to a controlled canter
  • Downward transitions communicated from your seat

Practice being encumbered

Remember that when jousting you will need to cue your horse while encumbered by your armor, your lance, and your shield. Despite these encumbrances, you will need to share your confidence with your horse, so that they remain calm and cool in the heat of the joust.

Consider adding one or two pieces of jousting paraphernalia to your non-jousting riding time. Practice communicating to your horse with only one hand, such as carrying a riding crop in place of a lance. Try riding with different combinations of your equipment, so that you can get used to riding with each piece in turn.

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Page last modified on July 11, 2012, at 05:16 PM PST