War Horse Games
War Horse Games have changed over the years. What Jousting used to be has changed. Many people do however try to keep the Medieval Horse Games as close to the old ways as possible. They go all out on a matching "outfit" for their horses keeping with the old patterns and ideas. Many people go the extra mile to have metal armor made for themselves and their horses.
There a many new games to play on horseback. One, often called RING TILT, is jousting for a small ring on a specified track rather then head on at another person. Or another, many times called QUINTAIN, jousting at a wooden swinging decoy type target. The target can be human shaped with a knight drawn or painted in or a shield.
Many events host a game called PIG STICKING where the rider carries a "jousting pole" and with it picks up items on the ground. The item could be something as simple as a piece of Styrofoam or a stuffed pig.....or a doll head.
CUP CARRY is a fun War Horse Game you might see at a Medieval Event. It is a fun game that a rider of any experience can ride in a timed event with a cup of water in their one hand with the horse reins in the other hand, much like egg and spoon that is very popular at Horse Shows with Fun Events. Speaking of Modern Fun Events you might also see FLAG RACES, running a horse around the arena with a flag in a container that the rider picks up and then "sticks" the same flag, on a short stick, into another container on the other side of the arena. Along with those, you might also see the RIBBON RACE where two riders race around the arena each holding an end to a ribbon holding it between them as they go...not as easy as it might sound.
Very popular events, especially for the spectators, are JAVELIN TOSS and ARCHERY FROM THE BACKS OF HORSES.
more to come
There are organizations that have get togethers and events where people dress up in Renaissance Clothing and do Renaissance Day things....like War Horse Events. You might see Knights in Shining Armor, Jousting, Fair Ladies Riding Side Saddle and more. These good people have worked with and on all the safety and rules of War Horse Games. They set up games and approve people riding them for the safety of not only the people but also the horses. They have researched all the history and try to make the games as fun and close to what they were in Renaissance Times while keeping the riders, the horses and the spectators safe. If you are truly interested in War Games on Horse Back you would do well to research and hook up with one of these good organizations, learn their rules and you will also have other people to play the War Horse Games with by joining in with them.
Photo from an old Horse Book.
If you are reading this page, I am betting you enjoy seeing the horses all garbed up in Medieval Bards, Barding, Caparisons, Hoods, Serapies and such as much as I do. There is just something wonderful about it all. Some would call it Romantic.
I am always amazed how many people think that a horse, any horse, can be used for jousting... Not just any horse, but any horse at any moment, with no additional training, they believe, can be garbed up, mounted in flowing clothing and headed at a full gallop while the rider carries things such as swords and or jousting lances.
If you are planning on riding a horse in Renaissance Garb and or Jousting, you will need to desensitize the animal to the flowing, blowing, clothing fist. It may take a long time with some horses and some may never get used to the idea of the monster you are wearing to be on it's back. As many good animal trainers say "Take the time it takes." Start slow and off away from the horse with the large flowing garb. Work up closer to the horse as the horse allows.
See our Garb DIY page for instructions to make these items.
Some people are lucky enough to have arenas, some just have a training area. But either can be set up for War Horse Games. If you are going to Ring Joust you will need a long flat area to set up your Arches and Ring Holders. The Three Arches are set up 30 Yards apart. The Ring Jousting Rules also call for a 20 Yard starting and stopping area, in front of and behind the Arches. So the Ring Jousting Runway will be 160 Yards or about 1 and 1/2 the size of a Football Field. Of course not every game area has that much room so adjustments are made. But you do need the 30 Yards between the Arches with the flat ground.
There are plans for "Proper Torurney Fences" that you can find with an Internet Search. This fencing is not only beautiful to look at, but breakaway if run into.
more to come
THE EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR WAR HORSE GAMES
Weapons are weapons are weapons and they can be dangerous and deadly....yes, even the wooden blunted end ones. When you put the power of a horse on the other side of a wooden dowel, the dowel will still go through a person. If you do not know how to handle the weapon on the ground, if you are not a well seated horse person, do not mount a horse with a weapon. Do not mix the two until you have mastered both.
Equipment for riding in War Games starts with footwear as well as safe fitting clothing for the rider. Everyone wants to look good, KOOOOOL even, but if your garb and or footwear are unsafe for equine events, do use them. This also goes for your saddle and other horse tack. Those antique saddle are really KOOOOL looking, and quite the find, but is it safe to ride on upon the back of a horse? Is the leather well supple and well taken care of? Your horse may look really good in all the Renaissance Horse Garb....but is the horse used to wearing it, how windy is the day you are riding in the games, is it so long that your horse could trip on it?
Check all game rules, and know them before playing, for what equipment is needed, the specifications of the equipment, and what your are responsible to own and bring with you to use in the classes. Make sure that all or your equipment is of the right size, made with the right materials, and is in good repair.
Photo taken from old Horse book.
KNOW THE RULES OF THE GAME
There is only one thing worse then a sore looser....it is a sore looser that does not know the rules.
Read and study and know the rules and memorize the rules, before you enter the game. Not only will it help you understand the game, but also help keep you safe and within the realm of winning.
Make sure you also understand the rules of the games you are entering. If you have any doubt about the rule, what exactly they mean, what the game plan is, where the boarders for the game are, what garb is allowed on horse or riders, ask a judge BEFORE the games begin.
Ask other competitors at your own risk...remember, they are competitors and the bigger the purse the more they want to beat you at the game. No, not all competitors are like that, but some are, many are, and all can be.
There is no other training that a horse can go through to get it ready for the War Games. This is a whole other world to horses then a Horse Show or Rodeo or Eventing or Dressage or any other Horse Event. The costumes alone are enough to send the average horse into a panic. The horse must be trained to each of the games, in the Ribbon Race, the flowing of the "ribbon" as well as the other horse and rider so close as the two of you ride, in the Ring Jousting, the Lance, the garb, the arches, the noises. When you are participating in Quintain the horse must be desensitized to the feel of the lancing pole hitting the wood as well as the nose it will make. The horse will also need to see the spinning of the shield that you hit before the competition. The list goes on and on of what a horse might see and hear.... when participating in Archery by Horseback your horse will need to learn that the noises of the bow and arrow as well as the feel of the rider moving in the saddle in such a different way then normal.
Just because you are at a competition does not mean you should not be friendly. No prize is a valuable as having friends that have the same sports interest, time period interest, and equine interest that you do. You never know when you are meeting a friend for life and or your spouse.
Remember these are the people you will come in contact with often if you plan to continue in this sport. You actually have much in common with them. Your family might get tired of your War Horse Sports stories and Horse Events, but these folks will hang on your every word.....because their families feel the same way as yours does. Enjoy their company.
MAKE YOUR HORSE COMFORTABLE
Most events will be held in the warm to hot weather. Keep your horse comfortable, remember, it is already wearing a coat. Park your trailer in the shade so that when you load the horse at the end of the day it will not be like walking into an oven. Set your horse up in the shade. While waiting your turn for the games, stand in the shade. Offer your horse water often. Give a few treats.
Your horse looks really KOOOOOOL in it's garb, but that garb can also be very warm in the sun on a hot day. Do not over do the showing off of how great your horse looks. Let the horse be comfortable and have a good time at the event too.
Don't leave your horse tied out to a post or trailer for too long of a time. Take your horse for a walk every hour of less and get the blood moving. Being tied up on a hot day can be very stressful on animals.
Photo taken from old Horse book.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR HORSE
When you take your horse to an event, you need to know where your horses is, what it is doing and what is going on around it at all times. Many things can happen and they happen fast. Many people will go up to unknown "horsies" and do stupid things. Not because they want to hurt the horse or get hurt, because most people in today's world have no idea how to behave around equine. Many people, especially children are drawn to horses....keep an eye on who is close to your horse....and yes, tell then NO! They can not stand behind the horse and play with it's tail.
Most events have specifications of how horses must be kept. Some allow small corrals, some have a horse area where non equestrian people are not allowed, some allow you to tie to your trailer. But whatever or where ever you put your horse, it is your own responsibility.
Do not tie your horse for too long of a time per hour. Get your horse moving a bit now and again. Standing for long periods of times on hot days at events is stressful for the animals. Moving around will also keep the blood flowing too.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if people could be trusted and items were safe setting out in public places? Shame it is not like that. I guess in reality, it never was. War Horse Tack is very expensive and not easy to find. When you are not using it or right there with it, lock it up in your truck and or trailer. Put your Armor, Weapons and other Garb and Gear in the locked area with your tack.
As with any horse keeping it healthy is very important. Talk to a group of horse owners and each one will have a different plan for horse health. Worming is very important. Don't wait until you see that the horse is full of worms to keep it medicated to deworm them. Shots you give or have your veterinarian give your horse are up to you. Do your homework, know what plagues your area, such as West Nile.
Most, if not all, Horse Events will ask you to bring copies of your horses Coggins Test as well as a health form. These are usually good for one year. Make extra copies and keep them in your truck so that you do not arrive at an event only to remember that you left the forms needed to enter at home.
Keeping a horse healthy is easier and cheaper then paying a veterinarian to get a horse healthy. Take care of your horse, keep worming or deworming, up to date. Keep your pastures clean and clear of debris and or wood with nails or that sort of thing that the horse can get hurt on.
We have much in our horses, not just the money we paid for them or the money it takes to feed and or board them, but most of us have our hearts involved. Don't hurt yourself by not taking care of your animals. You will surely be sorry if you do.
Ring Tilt is also called Ring Jousting. It is a timed event where the rider has a jousting pole and spears rings of different sizes per class on the tip end of his or her pole. The rider with the most rings and the fastest time wins....or that is the short explanation.
Making The Equipment
The Ring Jousting Track
You will need some room for a Jousting Track of Regulation Size. Ideally 160 yards, and of course that needs to be flat and free of trees, fencing and any other obstacles. Not many of us have that, ey?
The Track is divided up like this; 10' wide with a 20 yard lane before the first arch. 30 yards, that is yards not feet, between three arches. You of course need a starting run area before the starting line and after the last arch.
The track needs to be 10' wide and you will of course want a fence or some sort of barrier between the track and all else.
The Ring Jousting Arches
There of course is a great way to make these so that you are running through, or under, three stable arches each having two legs set or dug or even concreted into the ground. They can be made with many types of materials, wood, PVC, metal piping or other.
The three arches or holders for the rings are set at 30 yards apart. So you do need a large flat area to set up safely for the horses and riders. The rings are to be set at 6' 8 1/2" (yeah, why the 1/2" <?>) off the ground and the rings should be set stationary, meaning, not swinging on a piece of string.
The reality usually is that not everyone has the space for this nor do they want the arches up all the time.
Per the rules seen at the website of Maryland Jousting, you need a set of 28 Jousting rings in seven sizes and wrapped in cord and dipped in either white shoe polish or white paint to give the cord staying power.
You can wrap your own rings. The rings can be bought in most hardware stores or made by welding heavy wire. The ring sizes are 1 3/4", 1 1/2", 1 1/4", 1", 3/4", 1/2" and 1/4".
I used embroidery thread to wrap the rings we will be using for our Ring Jousting. You can buy embroidery thread at most Fabric and or Craft Stores.
The Jousting Pole
You won't find these in any stores. You might find them for sale from websites that have Jousting Information. But most likely, shipping being high on an item of this shape, you will be making your own.
Pig Sticking was/is a form of hunting. From horseback with a lance, long and sharp, the riding "sticks" the boar to kill it. This would not only take an excellent rider and great hunting horse, but much practice for accurate aiming and strength of the rider to succeed.
The game, played today in the USA and other places from horseback, is a simulation of Pig Sticking. The rider uses a long and sharp lance to "stick" an object or more then one object. Many times the object will be a child's stuffed animal pig or such.
Cup Carry is much like "Egg and Spoon" seen at many of today's horse shows. In Cup Carry the rider carries a cup of water in a timed event with a stating line and finish line. Not only does the rider's time figure into see who wins...so does the amount of water left in the cup.
Here's a fun equestrian game, seen at many horse shows today, that can start an argument between friends that usually ends in laughing!
The Ribbon Race is a timed event on a set course. Two rider's each hold the end of a piece of "ribbon", usually about 3' long, (can be plastic, crape paper, or ever yellow plastic "caution tape") as they try to stay close to one another as they run a course. There is a set course, most times obstacle course, and usually not so easy for two horses to manipulate together. The idea is to finish the course with the fastest time and still have the Ribbon between the rider's each still holding one end.
I highly recommend that competitors practice this one.
This is a popular equine game at horse shows and events everywhere. There is a small flag mounted on a short (approx. 18" pole) that is about 3/4" thick in a holder (usually a bucket full of sand. The timed rider will ride into the ring, pick up the flag out of the bucket (not as easy as it sounds) taking it to another holder and placing it into the holder. Sometimes, there will be another flag in the holder (of a different color) that the rider will grab after planting the first flag, and put it back into the first holder.
Javelin Toss By Horseback
Truly a Medieval Equestrian or Elephant ridden Game. In those days they even threw dice for placement of riding. Basically, this game is throwing a Javelin from horseback threw a target. Speed and accuracy determine the winner.
This is a lot of fun! It is what we might call a "Scavenger Hunt" on horseback. There is a set course, or trail ride, where the rider's must look for clues, answer puzzles, and or perform skills while mounted for points.
This is harder then it sounds. Your horse must be trained so that you can drop or not use reins while riding. When you begin this game/sport, with many groups, you must be certified to shoot a bow with accuracy on foot and also be a certified rider with their group. You start at a walk (on horseback) and work your way up through the classes before being able to just mount, gallop and shoot. It is good to see safety in these games.
The contents of this page for War Horse Games is still under construction. Please check back later!
Never forget that horses are big powerful animals. They are prey animals, that means they will always carry that "fight or flight" mentality when frightened. Most "flight" or what we refer to as spook comes without warning and happens fast. There is much going on at an Equine Event and your horse has bigger eyes to see more then you do, be prepared. All the weapons we carry horseback can be deadly. Even a wooden dowel without a point at the end can impale someone with the force of horsepower behind it. Yes, even today's "modern man" is no different the other humans of the past, we cut, we bleed and we can die if cut or impaled by weapons of old. Be careful. Be very careful. Remember many a good men died showing off.