A dull thud when the lance hits, and a crash if the rider hits the ground, not to mention the cheers of the crowd – that’s what you’ll hear during full-contact jousting.
It’s back for the second year at the Western Canadian Agribition. But what’s made it so popular? Shane Adams, owner of the Knights of Valour, the jousting company, and a jouster himself, says it’s the violence.
“People are blood-thirsty. This sport, full-contact jousting, brings us back to the roman age, realistically, when human nature was entertained by fighting, human nature was entertained by extreme competition … Jousting was the Super Bowl of sports back in the Renaissance, back in the Middle Ages. And here it is now, the 21st century, and jousting still exists, I wonder why.”
This jousting is the real deal – horses, lances, and metal armor that can weigh upwards of 150 lbs.
Adams calls the sport ferocious.
“When you’re charging down the lane, down the list against your opponent, you’re about to collide with 2,500 pounds of mass – that’s you, and the horse, and the weight of your armor, combining to make that mass against the same opposing force, and you’re colliding at a combined speed of 60 kilometres an hour.”
He said getting hit “sucks,” but it’s part of the sport. He likened it to bull-fighting, if you got hit by the bull every time you fell.
With that kind of force there are bound to be injuries – from broken bones, to dislocated bones, to concussions. Adams himself said he’s broken his hand several times, and is currently dealing with his worst injury yet, three herniated and bulging discs that have left him with almost no feeling in his left leg. But he’s still competing.
Adams has been jousting for 25 years, saying he’s living his dream.
“It was a childhood dream of mine, wearing a straw cowboy hat and cowboy boots, to be a knight. At the age of four, I can remember jumping on the back of my mom’s Arabian horses and riding down the paddock and into the woods while holding onto a branch and pretending it was a sword.”
The six-man international jousting tournament starts at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, the last day of Agribition for the year.