Palfreys, Chargers and Destriers
Choosing a Jousting Horse

As a member of the Alliance, one has access to our herd of trained horses. Some members prefer to ride our horses, as they are already trained for jousting and skill-at-arms competitions. There are some good horses in this group and there are some great horses, but that's another story. Other advantages are that one does not have to buy, board, or train the horse they ride at Tournament. This can be a costly and time consuming venture.

However, some of our Members want a warhorse of their own. This is understandable, as some of us truly love these great beasts. Some of the advantages of owning your own horse are that you can ride whenever you want and you have more of an opportunity to develop a good understanding relationship with your horse. And as a result of having a good relationship, you might just get lucky enough to have a horse that understands you, likes you, and wants to do well for you (at least most of the time!).

It's a great feeling when you work with him or her on the field and get total cooperation and trust. And as anyone knows who's worked with horses, what we've been discussing is the 'ideal'. It takes a lot of work but it is what we are striving for.

Now that we've established just what we are striving for, "Let's Go Buy a Horse!" The type of horse you want has to be determined. The two basic types for jousting are the Warmblood (the Charger) and the Coldblood (the Destrier).

The Warmblood or Charger is normally a medium size, medium build horse that has a combination of ability, speed and stamina. They are quicker and sometimes more difficult to ride than a Destrier. The Destrier, or heavy Warhorse, is a Draft Horse, and is sometimes a purebred, or perhaps a horse that is a cross with another Draft Breed. They are larger, slower and normally easier to ride, but not always. I know a few Destriers that are quick and agile.

Once you get an idea of what type of horse you want, the attitude and temperment must be considered. What one is looking for (if you are a good judge of horse character) is a sensible, brave and intelligent animal. How one gets along initially is also important. You want to like this horse and you want him to like you. After all, you will be trusting each other with your lives.

The horse must be sound and hopefully, without any major mental hangups. He or she should have natural athletic abilities.

The horse's age is up to the individual. For most people, a young adult of three to four years is just right to start. For some, an older horse is better, and if cared for properly, can live and work into their thirties. Some have so much heart they just don't want to stop. They like their work.

Good luck and happy trails!

James Zoppe
Founder and Director
American Jousting Alliance



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