Relive a sport that is 900 years old: jousting. Founders of the American Jousting Federation, the Ravenswood School of Jousting is located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Karl Anderson, the owner of the school kindly took the time to answer some questions regarding the school and jousting.
Have you always been interested in horses and when did your interest in jousting begin?
I have always loved horses, and all animals for that matter. I became interested in jousting around 2000, but the opportunity to actually start a school did not happen until 2005 when I was living in Washington.
How much of your day/week is hands on with horses?
I try to spend at least 2 or 3 days each week working with horses.
As a business offering the service of teaching jousting to others, is it possible for someone to be a full time professional, earning a livable income?
Perhaps someday that might be possible, but at the present it seems to be seasonal, and therefore, part-time. I think as more people find out about our school, we may very well develop a waiting list for students. One of my goals is to develop an on-site living situation with chuck wagon meals, which would make it easier for students to travel from longer distances for an all-inclusive package (tuition, boarding, and meals). As for a “liveable income” — I think it is possible — with enough marketing, good horses, and good staff.
What are some of the necessities for running such an operation? Was it difficult to set up?
Sound horses, good staff, and liability insurance are all essential to such an operation. And of course, a passion for it is key as well. You have to love what you do — no matter what it is — in order to make it an enjoyable experience for others. If you get burned out, it will show in your teaching.
Any advice for those interested in pursuing this horse related discipline? Are there opportunities to compete?
I would encourage anyone who is interested to take our courses. But that is only the beginning. Practice has to continue, both for rider and horse. An excellent place for someone to compete is at the World Jousting Finals, held each year in Estes Park, Colorado. They offer a handsome purse for that competition, which is broken down into Heavy (full) Armor Class, and Light Armor Class. We hope to one day establish a competitive event in New Mexico as well.
Is there anything else with horses you’d love to learn about or try?
I am always up for learning more about horses. As animals, they are each as different as people are, so getting to know each horse on an individual basis (i.e. their disposition, character, loves, and fears) is something I enjoy. Endurance riding is something I am interested in trying.
Favourite horse memory?
I think my favorite horse memory is when I rode Freya, a 17.2 hand Percheron mare, in a parade on the Oregon coast during their 4th of July Jubilee Parade. When I was being positioned in the parade (#5 spot), I learned there were going to be 2 Scottish Bagpipers right in front of me, and there was a 40-foot fire truck 2 entries behind me — that was going to be blaring its horn and sirens throughout the event.
As I was sitting on her, waiting for the parade to begin, a lady walked up to inform me — out of courtesy –that she was unloading 4 llamas from a trailer about 20 feet from where we were. When the llamas came out of the trailer, Freya simply ignored them. Then during the parade, as the bagpipers finished each piece, she whinnied! The fire truck’s noise didn’t matter to her at all. She was a big hit, and I was really proud of her. It was her first parade ever, and she passed with flying colors!
The current issue of RENAISSANCE MAGAZINE features a story about our school. I think this will hopefully establish that waiting list for students we have envisioned and hoped for. Other future magazines articles will also help, I am sure. Getting the word out is what it’s all about, along with providing a safe experience that students will truly enjoy.
Best thing about your sport/profession?
I think the best thing about doing this is seeing the reactions that students have to simply accomplishing it, and the pride they have in their horse, or in the horse they are using for the class, and how the horse takes them through it all.
For a lot of people, trail riding becomes “old hat” — and they want something new and different to do with their horse. Jousting certainly offers that, and Ravenswood School of Jousting is an excellent place to do it!
“Feeling down? Saddle up, Its the only cure.”