Medieval knights trained to be in constant readiness to fight for their lords. It was essential that their weapons, armor, and horsemanship be kept at battle strength. It is also true that knights were young, usually men in their teens and early twenties, and they loved to fight and to show off for the young ladies of the time. Tournaments and jousts were the perfect solution to all these needs.
Jousting was difficult, arduous, dangerous, and magnificent. The roar of the crowd, the thunder of hooves, and the splintering crash of lance against shield triggered all the excitement of a modern football game. Jousters were the athletes of their day, and the tournaments were an exciting event for everyone in the village. They also supported any number of secondary industries, just as sports do today. A jousting knight in a tournament represented a team of people, all working together to keep him and his horse in top fighting shape. The tournaments meant money, in prizes and in gambling, and people worked hard to profit from them.
The knight was strapped into his armor, which had been carefully designed and crafted by a team of specialists, and then helped onto his horse. Only strong and powerful horses were used in tournaments, as they provided the force behind the blow of the lance. The knights were arranged on opposite sides of a low wall, separated by hundreds of feet but pointed directly at each other. At the signal they would gallop towards each other at fever pitch and, in the center, directly in front of the audience, they would meet. Each knight’s lance met the other’s shield, and whoever was the weakest would be thrown from his mount and dashed to the ground. It was a rough sport, but they loved it.