Monday, July 23, 2007

July 22 Joust Practice After Action Report

s many in the group know, Bob and I have been asked to help judge a charity joust in Keene NH on September 22. We're awaiting final details on what Wolfe Argent members might be doing, since have no word on camping and campfires for a potential LH display. We'll keep y'all posted as word is delivered.

For those who wanted to know how the practice went:

Bob and I arrived a little after 4pm and caught up with Jeremy. He was in the process of grooming Dobbyn (his mount) and showing a newbie (I think) how to groom and tend to the horse. Once Dobbyn was caparisoned and saddled, with a nice Carmargue (French Cowboy saddle), he was led out to the field where the barrier and counters were set up.

There were quite a few people there who were to act as ground crew. I'm not sure how many of them were new to the concept. Some seemed to be veterans, others not so much, but everyone was eager to help out.

Bob helped Jeremy armour up and another group helped Nikki while the horses were being warmed up. Once they were set, Nikki mounted up and Jeremy prepared to mount. We had our first minor issue; the saddle rolled. He said that "Yeah, I know I should have checked it first". It happens to us all. I held the bridle while another woman helped correct the saddle and then Jeremy tightened the girth, and he was ready to go.

They did a few passes down the barrier without lances and helmets.

Bob and I took positions at the "50 yard line" on opposite sides of the barrier to get a feel for where the point of lance on shield contact would occur. Our job was to give points for lance touch, break, or miss. We were also keeping our eyes on things in regard to where the "ball boy" was. This was a nice young man whose job was to gather the broken foam or balsa after each pass, not unlike the fellows at a Wimbledon match.

The rest of the people broke into the ground crew. Three people on each end of the barrier to take lances, hand lances, help with fractious mounts, and to communicate with the jouster. This is where the second issue came into play. One team seemed to be veteran, calm and organized, the other novice and it was with this team that things got a little hairy and sometimes a bit scary. To their credit, they were nice and enthusiastic people willing to help, but it seemed very chaotic at that end as they all tried to do the same job and they all talked over one another. And more attention was given to the rider at the far end of the barrier than what might be happening within the lanes as the "ball boy" collected broken pieces of foam and balsa. I had to shout several times that the "list was NOT clear". It finally took. Even though things are exciting, we have to be aware of the entire environment. I think toward the end they finally got it together with the help of Melinda who took over as the head squire and guided them when they needed it, though at times they still tended to talk at once, which can be confusing to the jouster when they need one voice to tell them what's going on at the far end.

The lance passes started off with foam tips and graduated to balsa. The last two passes were executed with balsa and HE rubber coronels and they caught and produced nice breaks.

All in all, it was an interesting, and we think a good experience. We had a few ideas that we passed on regarding the crew mechanics. Our goal was to give advice when we thought it was warranted. Hopefully people didn't think we were too stand-offish. Bob and I took what we were doing very seriously.

The next practice is August 25 (Saturday). Any Wolfe Argent members who would actually like to participate in the actual joust as ground crew should probably come to that practice.

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