Have You Tried Ring Jousting?

ring jousting on horseback

Have you heard about the sport of ring jousting? It has been played in North American for quite some time and in fact became the official sport of Maryland in 1962!

1. How many decades have passed since jousting became the official sport of Maryland?

Jousting at Hever Castle, Kent, England

Jousting at Hever Castle, Kent, England

Jousting tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times but became increasingly popular after the Civil War. Some competitions keep the pageantry and customs of medieval tournaments. Modern competitors are called “knights” or “maids”, and many dress in colourful costumes.

One of the unique things about this sport is that women, children and men compete equally with skill and horsemanship determining who wins.

Tournaments conducted in Maryland are “ring tournaments” which involve charging a horse at full-gallop through three arches each with a single suspended ring.

The start of the course is 20 yards in front of the first arch. The distance between each arch is 30 yards with the 3rd arch also being the finish line.

2. How long is the course?

sizes of jousting rings

Sizes of jousting rings

Using a long, fine-tipped lance, the rider has 8 seconds to complete the course and “spear” the rings, scoring 1 point for each ring on their lance.

Each rider gets three rides, or charges, down the course.

3. What is the maximum possible score for a rider?

All the lances used are homemade. They average anywhere between five and seven feet in length and weigh anywhere between one and fifteen pounds depending on the materials used and the rider’s choice.

The point of the lance is, on the average, two feet long and made of metal, aluminum, or stainless steel.

4. If you had a lance that was 6 feet long altogether, with a two-foot-long point, how long would the handle be?

The rings are hung 6 feet 9 inches above the ground and range in diameter from one-quarter inch to nearly two inches depending upon the skill-level of the contestant.

Math Talk – diameter: a straight line passing through the centre of a circle and touching both sides of the circumference.

In late September, one such tournament took place in Ridgely, Maryland, where the town hosted the 61st consecutive Ridgely Jousting Tournament.

Math Talk – consecutive: numbers that follow each other in an unbroken sequence.
lead line jousting class

Dominic Reinhold Knight riding in the Lead Line class.

The jousting tournament began with a Grand Parade of horses and riders, the Charge to the Knights followed with the National Anthem.

Then a Lead Line class began the actual joust. Both the Lead Line class and the Novice Class compete using 1-3/4” rings. These classes are not timed.

The Amateur Class uses 1 1/2 inch rings.

5. How much smaller is the diameter of these rings than those used for the Lead Line and Novice classes?

ring jousting on horseback

Three-ring score!

The diameter of ring used in the Semi-Professional Class is 1 1/4 inches and the diameter of ring used in the Professional Class is 1 inch.

6. What is the difference in ring diameter between the Semi-Professional Class and the Novice class?

Sometimes there is a tie after all the horses and riders have had their first 3 charges. In that case, the ring size is reduced by 1/4 inch and those with tied scores charge again. If after the first tie-off ride there continues to be a tie, the ring size is reduced again by 1/4 inch and the riders charge again.


7. In the case of a tie in the Professional Class, what would be the diameter of the ring for the tie-off ride?

There was a tie-off in the Novice class at the Ridgely Jousting Tournament with Madelyn Patrick, Taylor Pinheiro, Lona Todd and Jen Gannon all making it to the tie-off ride. The ring size was reduced.

8. What was the ring size for their first tie-off ride?

After the first tie-off ride, two of the riders remained, Madelyn Patrick and Taylor Pinheiro. Both had scored 3 rings in the first tie-off ride. Again, the ring was reduced in size.

9. What was the ring size for the next tie-off ride?

Madelyn Patrick won by capturing all three rings in the second tie off ride. Taylor Pinheiro came in second after capturing 1 ring in the second tie-off. Lona Todd was 3rd and Jen Gannon 4th.

Before checking your answers, would you like to watch the 2011 National Jousting Championship Tournament?


Mark Asche Knight on River Rat; courtesy of Eastern Shore Jousting Association
Jousting at Hever Castle, Kent by Peter Trimming; CC BY-SA 2.0
Sizes of jousting rings by MdAgDept; CC BY 2.0
Dominic Reinhold Knight of Adams Landing lll.; courtesy of Eastern Shore Jousting Association
Three ring score; courtesy of Eastern Shore Jousting Association

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