Actually, it's way cooler than that. I had the privilege of seeing said rodeo up close and personal yesterday in Norco, California. Imagine, if you will, being in an outdoor arena with banners hanging on the corrals of cows and bulls that advertise motor sports, veterinary services, taxidermy. You are sitting in the stands with all sorts of people, most of whom are sporting cowboy hats and western boots, watching a rodeo clown do his thing before the joust commences.
Hey, this is California, where anything and everything is fair game.
These fellows doing the jousting are the Imperial Knights, a group of modern-day, armor-wearing, lance-carrying jousters who do this stuff for a living. It was so incredibly cool.
Now, let me confess something here. I'm a sucker for a guy in uniform. But I'm even more of a sucker for a guy in armor. It's a sickness, I know. But dayem if it isn't sexy.
Anyway, the lists were set up, the flag girls in their metal bras rode out, a little knight in shining armor upheld their own banner during the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, and then it was "play ball!"...er..."knights at the ready!"
These were not Nerf lances. These were wooden lances and these knights were riding Clydesdales and Belgians--big horses--toward each other. This was the Joust a Plaissance, "for the fun of it," but it still means business. The blunted lance aims toward the small shield fastened to the knight's left shoulder (these are fifteenth century fellows with the equivalent of "white armor," which was the lighter armor of steel plate made in blast furnaces, making them stronger and lighter. I suspect these fellows had different stuff [including the motocross padding beneath it] but the idea is there.). The lance tips sport a coronel, a fancy little bit at the front that distributes the shock and prevents sharp points from piercing the armor. I can't imagine what it feels like to receive the shock of a lance on these shields even with all the padding in the world, but I have fired rifles with a kick and it might be a bit like that, but more so.
Needless to say, it was very exciting. We even had an instance where two knights were unhorsed. Kids, don't try this at home (when I asked my husband rather excitedly if he would ever try this, he laughed. "Even when I was younger and in better shape I wouldn't have done this. I'm not crazy." Well there's one fantasy squashed!) The first unhorsed fellow did not seem to fare well, even after trying another run after his fall. But he did ride off the field.
There is nothing quite like seeing these amazing horses and fully armed knights charging toward one another, lances splintering, armor clanking, crowds cheering...rock music ringing out in the backround. I tell you, the only thing I have to complain about was that the joust didn't last longer.
Can this be an Olympic event, you think?
After the too brief bit of jousting, a fellow in full armor rode a bucking bull, or at least tried to. He wasn't on it more than a few seconds. He was trying for eight. My carn sarn digital camera never shoots when I want it to and I so I missed the great shot of this shiny armor-clad fellow riding out on a long-horn. But believe me, it was impressive.
If you get a chance to see the Imperial Knights (I believe they will be in Estes, Colorado next) do not miss a chance to see them. I could watch it all day.
Here are more pix: