When’s the last time you attended a really good joust?
Here in Florida, where the weather affords almost year-around comfort, outdoor festivals abound, and we have our fair share of Renaissance and Medieval festivals.
These re-enactments happen in 29 states, for 41 weeks out of every year, and many offer a chance to step back in time to the days when competitive jousts were common.
Jousting involves more than climbing atop a sturdy horse and galloping at top speed to meet an adversary wielding a play lance or sword and pretend armor.
The knights who mount up to ride into battle carry real wooden lances and steel swords. They wear about 140 pounds of serious protective gear. Their horses wear breastplates and face guards, too. And the weapons brandished by the riders can do serious damage to the untrained—man or beast.
So in this day of cyber warfare and digital destruction, where do these entertainers go to learn how to make their staged battles look real enough to excite crowds and stir anachronistic souls?
One of the premier training centers in the country is War Horse Farm in Sarasota, FL. Kelly Bailey directs the training, assisted by horse trainer Art Gruning.
Their performance troupe, The New Riders of the Golden Age, has performed professionally throughout the United States and Canada since 1982. At War Horse Farm, riders and mounts train and rehearse four to six days a week. The knights learn how to use and maintain their leather trappings, mail, and armor, and how to keep safe during jousting competitions that involve real weapons and real danger, with horses carrying them toward their challengers at top speeds.
Award-winning media and film company VonHenry Media, Inc., produced a 45-minute behind-the-scenes documentary about War Horse Farm and The New Riders of the Golden Age. It’s called “Horses and Heroes,” and it will be released in late summer or early fall.
It chronicles the early days of Kelly Bailey’s interest in competitive jousting, and the hard work done every day to train horses and riders.
VonHenry Media is run by Hank and Yvonne Charneskey.
Their first documentary film, “Go Mickey Go,” chronicled the training of competitive race car driver Mickey Wright, who wanted to excel as a racer, not just as a female racer. (See the trailer here.) That film took top honors in its category at the 2013 Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival, and is being considered for the Ritz Film Festival in Winter Haven, FL, this summer.
They’re hoping to reprise that success with “Horses and Heroes,” and their engaging topic, coupled with their cinematic approach to the excitement of the joust, should do the trick.
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