Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 09:35 UK

Horsewoman seeks jousting knights

Susan Jones
Susan Jones demonstrates the military skills of knights of old

A horsewoman is recruiting a band of horseback warriors to learn centuries-old jousting skills.

Susan Jones, 28, began jousting after taking a job in Belgium, and has competed in France and Canada.

Since returning to Swansea last year, she has founded a medieval group take on her former sporting colleagues with Wales' red dragon flag as their emblem.

She said: "It's a great heraldic device but we need to take it over properly and put them in their place."

Ms Jones, who works at the Corus steel plant in Port Talbot, said she had thought of taking up jousting before going abroad and then found herself in a village where the local stables hosted a branch of the International Jousting League (IJL).

She said the continental knights who trained her dubbed her "Greenfields" after learning the heritage of the Welsh flag.

Some of them liked the image so much they used it for themselves at tournaments.

Susan Jones with a hardwood baton
The aim of the crest melee is to hit the crest off the opponent's helmet

She wants to train a Team Greenfields to return to the field of gallantry and the world of armoured contests on horseback.

She said the sport, including archery from the saddle, sword games and throwing spears, was not as dangerous as it might look.

She said: "We do the late 15th Century, early 16th Century form. They would have had time by then to improve their health and safety.

"There were extra safety features. For instance, in the early competitions they wouldn't had had anything between the horses. By the later time, we had had the tilt, the bars down the middle.

"It is an impact sport. You can come off. People do.

"You don't believe it until it happens, but your armour does protect you a certain amount.

"It might hurt in some places but on the whole it does tend to protect you. I didn't believe until it happened to me. My armour is stainless steel and is quite thick."

Another safety device is tipping lances with balsa wood, but it seems that might not be such an original idea.

Susan Jones spear a hay target
Knight training includes spearing static and moving targets

She said: "It splinters and give you a better visual impact. I understand they had just started to use hollow or jointed lances."

But the key to mastering skill-at-arms, said Ms Jones, is the mount. Trainee knights need to able to move naturally with horse before they can start wielding weaponry with safety and accuracy.

She said: "The horse is paramount. It's what we care about the most. It's absolutely vital that nothing happens to them.

"It would have been import at the time. A really good joust horse would be like Ferrari to them.

"I've always loved doing differing things with horses. We find that once they been going for bit, they really love to do it. They are excited about doing it."

While there are other women jousting re-enactors in the UK, she wants to people to train for the competitive sport.

Brutal reality of the tournament
18 Jan 08 |  Science/Nature


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