In this episode, Scott is joined by Gwen Nowrick and Jeffrey Hedgecock, the founders of Historic Enterprises, and organizers of the World Joust Tournament of the Phoenix competitive jousting event, to discuss medieval horsemanship and its relationship to the ideals of chivalry. Gwen is the author of an article on the competitive sport of jousting in the Fall edition of Elite Equestrian magazine, and Jeffrey will be one of the competitors riding in the jousting event. They are also the coordinators of a roundtable discussion and demonstration of historical horsemanship that will be conducted by internationally acclaimed trainer Patrice Edwards, and Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng, curator of arms and armor at the Higgins Armory Museum.
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Armored knights on horseback competing in the spirit of chivalry may seem like something out of a medieval history book – but don’t call jousting “a thing of the past” when Gwen Nowrick and Jeffrey Hedgecock are around. Gwen and Jeffrey are organizers behind World Joust; Gwen is an avid student and practitioner of historical equestrian riding and training practices; Jeffrey is a skilled horseman himself, who is one of the best-known competitors on the jousting circuit today.
For these two, jousting is a sport that’s a blend of both traditional pageantry and exciting contemporary relevance – no different from polo, steeple jumping, or even horse racing. (And if you think that clanking chain mail and long medieval gowns automatically disqualify this as a modern sport … well, those wild outfits you see in the stands on opening day at the races aren’t any stranger than medieval armor or 15th century lady’s fashions.)
In coordinating the judges and field staff at the jousting tournament, Gwen’s focus is not so much on the skill and accuracy with the lance or sword, as with the control and grace between rider and horse. For Jeffrey, of course, the jousting matches are an opportunity to put academic research into practice – to see how historical riding skills hold up when it’s time to start breaking lances.
Gwen’s article on jousting as a modern sport appears in the most recent issue of Elite Equestrian magazine. As part of the 2011 Tournament of the Phoenix, she and Jeffrey have helped put together a forum on historical horsemanship and equestrian training that will be led by internationally acclaimed trainer Patrice Edwards and medieval scholar Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng,that will kick off the jousting event on Thurs. Oct. 20 at 4pm.
Scott spoke with Gwen and Jeffrey in their working offices (just steps away from their stable and armor workshop) to talk about chivalry’s role in the skills of medieval horsemanship.