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HORSES, HOUNDS, HUNTERS AND FARMERS

Meet the Reenactors 2016

HORSES, HOUNDS, HUNTERS AND FARMERS

hounds bog

Horses, Hounds, Hunters and Farmers is a brand  new multi period reenactment group that has been established to show the animals and people in non warfare roles in the dark and middle ages. Horses, Hounds, Hunters and Farmer (HHHAF) gleefully borrow people and their animals from many of the fine re-enactment groups that attend the Abbey medieval festival to join us in showcasing kit, knowledge and, of course, awesome animals!

HHHAF strive to have a range of friendly and safe animals (though just horses and hounds this year!) that people can ask questions about, and gain an education on the animals roles and their equipment in medieval and dark ages. Visitors to the Abbey Festival this year can touch and feed their animals, and people too… but ask permission first!

You may see the HHHAF group members riding around Abbeystowe with their horses, or going on a hunt with their hounds around the Festival grounds. At their camp site this year, there will be horses to see, and hounds to marvel at! Hunters will prepare a rabbit for the dinner pot, horse equipment, saddles and bridles from different periods, a hunter talking about setting some snares, a chat about what medieval horses ate, and even a Noble Lord talking about on the medieval farming practices on the high middle ages. Please come over and say hello – they would love to meet you!

“HHHAF – we got Game” (and we ‘HHHAF’ terrible puns!)

Meet Horses, Hounds Hunters and Farmers, and their wonderful animals this year. Buy your tickets now!

Check back soon for another Reenactor group. 

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MEET THE JOUSTERS – PART 3 2016

Meet the final 2 Jousters for the 2016 lineup!

As we are all getting ready and very excited for this years Medieval Festival, the Jousters are training and readying themselves for the ferocious combat that is the Jousting Tournament! The final 2 Jousters have been named, get to know them before you witness them live at the Festival!

 

The Lady Elizabeth – Australia

jousters liz

Lady Elizabeth has been in the jousting world more, behind the scenes and Head Marshall, for nearly 10 years, and has previous Jousted in the 2009 Abbey Tournament. Lady Elizabeth may be more recognized through her horse Flash who carried many an international rider to victory.

Lady Elizabeth has been riding for over 23 years now. She has been competing and training in dressage, show jumping and cross country. She is the founder & head instructor at Moonlight Manor Horse Riding, and teaches horses and riders of all ages & disciplines.

The 2016 Abbey Tournament will be the Lady Elizabeth’s return to the field after many years of training.

Motto:  “Victoria venit in” – “Victory comes from within”

 

Jouster Amanda Challen – Australia 

jousters amanda

Amanda has been working with horses since her early teenage years. She started by simply trail riding, and then into trail guiding and droving. She then became a riding instructor and now works in the racing industry. Amanda trains horses for all sorts of disciplines which includes Jousting. She will be astride ‘Nyx’ – the black daughter of the mighty war horse ‘Fenris’ – a well renowned Jousting horse for many years in the Abbey Tournament.

Amanda has been training under Talisien Bleechmore, Luke Binks, and Sasha Buchmann – all well regarded Jousters within Jousting circles. This will be ‘Nyx’s’ second Joust at the Medieval Festival, this time carrying her breeder and trainer!

Buy your tickets to the Festival and Joust Tournament now!

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KNIGHTS OF THE LONGDOG

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

KNIGHTS OF THE LONGDOG

knights of the longdog

 

The Knights of the Longdog 
are on a noble quest to educate people about the important role greyhounds (sight hounds) played in medieval times, and about what wonderful pets they make. The group represents a new generation of champions – we don’t wear chain mail, joust, or win sword fights…but we are brave, fearless and loyal, much like our hounds. We show the public and other re-enactors the lives sight hounds would have had, and portray the individuals who would have owned or cared for them during the 12th – 14th centuries in England.

In modern times/the real world, we are a mix of dog lovers who enjoy history and their hounds. We have greyhounds (generally rescued racing dogs), Borzoi (Russian Wolfhounds), and Irish Wolfhounds – all whom would have been called “greyhounds” in the medieval period. We also have an Alaunt who has just joined the group, and brings with her a number of trained rats who help us teach people about the role rats played in the medieval period!

We do a lot of training with our dogs and their owners to ensure the dogs are very comfortable with huge crowds and people of all ages. We do performances at the Abbey Medieval Festival that showcase their skills, and also give people an opportunity to feed the hounds! We give people lots of information on how they lived (they had awesome kennels), what they wore (harnesses, decadent collars, capes), how they were trained (which was mainly food based, just like it is today), who looked after them…you name it, you can learn about it so make sure you visit us this year at the Abbey Medieval Festival!

Knights of the Long Dog

To meet Knights of the Longdog and their amazing hounds, buy your tickets now!

For more on the Reenactors, check back here

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Order of the Horse

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

ORDER OF THE HORSE

order of the horse

In the Year of the Horse came the ‘Order of the Horse’, a group of elite Medieval horse warriors.

Order of the Horse is a historical re-enactment group of elite riders and mounted/foot combat, who work along side many other groups. Order of the Horse conducts displays on 12th, early 13th and 14th century horses, cavalry, archery, armour and cooking. They also focus on the history of the 12th, early 13th and 14th century knights and their horses, clothing, etc, with a particular focus on the 2nd and 3rd crusades including Saracens.

Order of the Horse

The members of the group are veterans of the Abbey Medieval Festival and Tournament for last 10 years, that once belonged to other Abbey groups. This group is well respected by QLHF and ALHF and performs at other interstate events as well as the Festival. The members and horses are also internationally prized as one of Australia’s top Napoleonic equestrians. The head and founder of the group was also on the Abbey build board 2015 and is one of the key knights and performers that has been bringing trained horses to the Abbey for the last 10 years.

Returning again in 2016, Order of the Horse are very much looking forward to educating the public on the 12th Century Saracen and 2nd and 3rd Crusades, and giving many amazing and authentic displays.

Buy your tickets now to meet Order of the Horse in person!

Stay tuned for more on Meet the Reenactors

lady freya joust
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Meet the Jousters – Part 2 2016

Meet some more exciting new faces for the Jousting Tournament this year! Please welcome Jousters new and old:

Jouster Anthony Hodges – Australia

tony hodges jousters

Anthony is a full time horse trainer. He has been competitively Jousting since 2014, and is a member of the Kryal Castles Mounted Knights. He is regular participant in Jousting and Skill At Arms Tournaments, and was the 2015 Timeline Skill At Arms Champion.

Motto: “Ad vincere honorem – To conquer with honour”

 

Jouster Kimberly Belcher AKA Lady Freya Erynn – Australia 

lady freya jousters

Lady Freya (Kimberley Belcher) is a 25 year old from Queensland. She made her debut at the 2015 Abbey Medieval Tournament, where she got to test her skills against some of the best. Returning this year, she is keen to compete again.

Kimberly has been immersed in jousting and medieval culture from the beginning of her riding. Training alongside the legendary pair, the Lady Elizabeth and her partner ‘Shanks’ and all the wonderful horses at Moonlight Manor, Kimberly has completed her joust training upon the horse Strider .

Descendant of a light horseman, she is ready to do her heritage proud and compete with honour, as she competes on home turf. The 2016 Abbey Medieval Tournament will be her second competitive joust. Competing in 15th Century German Gothic armour she’s sure to make an impression, and will be easy to spot in her green (Viridis) and blue (Caeruleus) colours, under the banner of the white stag. She’s confident for a great result from this year’s joust.

Motto: “per prudentiam, non virtutem – by wisdom, not power”

Jouster Luke Binks – Australia 

luke binks jousters

Luke Binks is Australian born and bred, with a lifelong passion for knights and the chivalric culture of the middle ages.

Luke started to make armour, learn to fight and ride horses in 2001. The next year, Luke was competing in his first international joust. Since then Luke has competed in tournaments in roughly a dozen countries across the globe and lived on three different continents, all in search of like-minded people making “the ultimate pass with a lance, or a skilled clash of a sword.”

 

Stay tuned for part 3 of “Meet the Jousters 2016!”

Buy  your tickets NOW!! 

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the know for all things Medieval Festival! 

 

alison mercer jouster
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Meet the Jousters – Part 1 2016

The Jousts at the Abbey Medieval Festival are one of the main attractions, and draw in people with a love of that Era, as well as the general public alike. We welcome the Jousters from previous years, as well as the new faces (and horses) to our 2016 Abbey Medieval Festival!

Please meet some of the Jousters for 2016

 Jouster Alison Mercer – Canada

Alison-Joust

Riding since childhood, Alison took up jousting in 2010 and rode her first international tournament in 2012. Since then she has ridden extensively throughout Canada and the USA. In 2014, she was the first western Canadian to joust in the southern hemisphere, winning Tournament Australis of the Southern Cross series, and making her debut at Abbey Medieval Festival. Alison is thrilled to return to Abbey in 2016 and counts Australia as one of her favourite countries to visit, even with the deadly wildlife.

Motto: Fortiter et Fideliter (Boldly and Faithfully)

Heraldry: Representing her family and her affinity for the Holy Roman Empire. The dexter side of the shield represents the Mercer coat-of-arms and the sinister side portrays the triband of the Archduchy of Austria as a homage to Kaiser Maximilian.

joust justin

Jouster Justin Holland – Australia

One of the progenitors of the modern sport of jousting, Justin has been jousting since 1996, and since then has jousted in most states of Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France and Poland. He was hired to set up and train the joust team for the new Kryal Castle, Ballarat, in 2012. Justin now runs Nova Hollandia Entertainment, a historical education and entertainment company in NSW, has been runner up at the Abbey Tournament 7 times, and Champion 3 times!

Motto: Invictus in animo (Unconquered in spirit)

Heraldry: Trois argent fleur de lys, gules ( 3 white fleur de lys on a red field).

Jouster Marc Hamel – Canada

marc joustMarc is a Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, armourer and sculptor. He has been a Jouster since 2006, and has participated in over 20 International tournaments in Belgium, France, England, Poland, Italy, USA and Canada. He was the Team Champion of the Lys d’Argent in Canada in 2012, has the Honor of Chivalry of the King John III (Poland 2013) and was Champion of the Revel (California,USA, 2014).

Motto: “Allons-y” meaning let’s go

Check back again soon for more on our Jousters for 2016!

Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know when tickets go on sale, and other Festival goodies! 

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Medieval Hounds

This is the final of our guest-blogger Sir Justyn’s series – ‘The Horses, The Hawks and The Hounds.’  Enjoy.

The Noble Medieval Hound

The third most important animal to nobles of the Middle Ages was the humble hound. So common today are dogs that we can come to neglect their prestige and importance among the lords and ladies of yore.  Hounds were considered most noble of beasts based upon his loyalty, kindness and other qualities of great nobleness. As you may have already surmised nobles kept and used hounds primarily for hunting.

There were in total six types of hounds you might encounter in medieval times:

  • running hounds,
  • greyhounds,
  • alaunts,
  • mastiffs,
  • spaniels
  • lap hounds.

Of these breeds five were used for robust purposes such as the hunting, guarding and fighting spoken of earlier and were well praised by noble men.

The poor little lap hound was considered a ladies hound.  They were used for both companionship and to keep fleas off the lady who kept the hound,  as written by medieval authors Gaston de Foix and Edward of Norwich! They were somewhat considered the lesser hound, especially among the men. It seems not to be until a few centuries later that men became fond of these small dogs.

This medieval illustration is from Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse

A hound in a medieval noble’s house was very well kept in almost the same way we might keep our dogs today with sufficient bedding, shelter, warmth, good food, clean water and plenty of room to exercise.  Gaston Phoebus, the Count of Foix wrote in his famous book” Livre de Chasse” in the 14thC of a medieval dog pen; “there are two gates to the enclosure; one opened only for the hunt, the other that leads to a sunny outdoor enclosure. The hound house is divided into three sections; one for the hounds, one for the handlers and a third with six sticks with gutters for the hounds to urinate on, the gutters taking their business to an outside area.” He goes on to write that servants must sleep with the hounds and that the kennels are to be kept warm with a fireplace and chimney. Accompanying illustrations in Livre de Chasse show a kennel that looks more expensive than a serf’s cottage. Edward of Norwich, writing his book The Master of Game in the early 15thC, which was largely a copy of Livre de Chasse but with some English flavour and relevant regional changes,  suggests instead stones for the hounds to urinate upon and just one child to sleep in the kennels if the kennels are small. He also, like Pheobus, suggests that a chimney and fireplace be set in the kennel for the comfort of the hounds when they are cold or have swam and need to dry out.

So what of these hounds not suited for the lap of a lady?

This is another medieval illustration from Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse

This medieval illustration is from Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse

Running hounds were used more for boar hunting (though some proved also to be good at hunting deer) and needed to be strong, bold, and fast over short distances.  Primarily they used to press a boar and to fight him at close quarters. They were not good at sustaining a chase and gave up the chase relatively quickly. They were not called running hounds for their ability to run but rather to set upon or “run” their quarry into the ground, though it is also hinted that they may be called this because a man can keep pace with them while running.

Greyhounds were prized for their ability to chase quarry over a long distance at great speed and without losing sight of the prey or giving up. They were perhaps the most valued of all hounds and their nature as today was kind, not too fierce, playful and joyous.  Curiously the greyhound is the only hound mentioned specifically by name of its breed in the Middle Ages, perhaps a testament to their esteemed position among hounds. These hounds were well suited to pursuing quarry over long distances, overtaking it and bringing it to the ground usually with a mounted posse of men right behind to assist.

Apollo - of Sir Justyn's Household. Photo by Sir Justyn

Aluants were hounds that were said to be the strongest and best shaped of all hounds and they required more detail to training than other hounds to ensure it was manageable at all times. In fact it was written by Edward of Norwich that an alaunt could be either most gentle of nature or most vicious and indeed men were wounded and at times killed by their own alaunts. Not only are the alaunts the most strong but he writes they are also the most hare brained. The alaunt was able to run as fast as a greyhound over a short distance and any beast he could seize with his powerful jaws he could bring down with little effort and hold and not leave it. These hounds were used for bear and bull baiting in blood sports and also called great butchers’ hounds because they were kept by urban butchers to guard and to clean up the mess that went with the trade. They also served as protectors of their master’s home.

Mastiffs were primarily hounds used to guard their medieval master’s beasts, home and goods. They were considered ugly and churlish in shape and nature and loved for it. Occasionally mastiffs were bred for hunting wild boar or for retrieving prey taken by hawks. Of all the hounds the mastiff is the least described in the medieval books on hunting, suggesting that they were indeed more of a footnote if you will than a prized hound for the hunt.

A 'Bird of the Hawk' on Parade at the Abbey Tournament 2011. Photo by one of our professional volunteer photographers

Spaniels were small hounds used for retrieving prey that was hot at a distance or taken by birds thus giving them a second name; birds of the hawk.

Loyal hounds,  they were described as:

  • always following their master
  • never becoming lost from him even in a crowd
  •  constantly wagging it’s tail
  •  flushing out game chasing fowl and wild beast with much excitement and noise
  • and excelling in hunting quail and partridge.

These hounds were also encouraged to swim and burrow for prey during the hunt but they were also considered a detriment among greyhounds for they would often chase whatever they found regardless of their masters wishes and lead the greyhounds into a chaotic dithering chase.

 

Guest Blogger: Sir Justyn
{ Sir Justyn is a professional medieval educator, performer and fight instructor who attends events, schools and clubs, Australia-wide and internationally, bringing history to life wherever he goes.   You can see Sir Justyn’s Birds of Prey from the Full Flight Conservation Centre in the encampment of Eslite d’ Corps, the 14thC Living History group and household of Sir Justyn at the Abbey Medieval Festival.  Sir Justyn, Eslite d’ Corps (EdC) and Full Flight Conservation Centre can also be found on Facebook.  For more information on falconry and hawking visit EdC Medieval Falconry.}

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The Medieval Horse

Another guest blog post for your pleasure!

Horses were one of the most valued and convenient of commodities in the medieval period.

 The real value of a horse in Medieval Times.

The Medieval Horse filled many roles in life during the Middle Ages.

Look Harold! 16 Leagues to the stook, grinds his own grain, strong enough to carry everything I make and just the right height for me,”

We take horses for granted in our modern age but to the people of the Middle Ages they were as important as a car is to us today.  Of course like cars today, not everyone owned a horse in the Middle Ages.

Most of the common folk got about on foot and it was only the prestigious that owned a horse, important members of society such as but not limited to nobles, merchants, clergy, and servants of the wealthy and well established tradesmen or professionals.

Horses were animals of great importance not just for the use of transporting a rider but also for war, hunting, transporting goods, services and information. This could be done either by a rider on horseback, a man on foot leading a horse (or perhaps a mule) or by cart, wagon and for the very rich, by coach.

 So what kind of horses did they have?

Breeds as we know them today were non existent in the Middle Ages.

Horses were not classified by breed but function.

It was a very simple process of classification.

If you were to

  •  need a riding horse, you buy a riding horse,
  • you need a war horse, buy a war horse.
  • Need a cart horse? You guessed it, buy a cart horse.

There were of course specialised traders and breeders who would deal in a specific kind of horse but not so much specific breeds.

 Horse breeds of  1000 years ago.

Historians and horse enthusiasts are still debating today what breeds of horses were around in the medieval period.

What is almost certain is that none of the breeds that we have today were likely around 500-1000 years ago.

So what’s on the agenda today? The little battle down the road, or are we moving the caravan again?

Selective breeding has more or less made it impossible for us to ascertain, with the exception of some pony breeds such as the Icelandic pony and the Dartmoor pony, exactly what these horses would have been. Instead we see modern “reproductions” or likely suspects. Of all types of horses, the one which has perhaps received the most attention in academic and Living History circles is the war horse.

So important to a knight was his war horse that he could not be considered for knighthood without one and without showing adequate cavalry skills. In fact the word that was used to describe a knight in the languages of the day, were words which described a cavalryman. Chevalier, ritter, caballero; all were words that meant mounted warrior. A man without a horse or the skills needed to ride in battle was not a knight at all.

 

War Horses of the Middle Ages

There were two types of war horse in the Middle Ages, the prized and highly valued destrier and the less expensive, more expendable charger.

And ten more points in the War Games If I can get your Chin Too.

The destrier was the most expensive horse on the market. Vastly specialised and trained in war it was as much a weapon to the knight who rode it as was his lance and sword. These horses were always stallions and their natural aggression was harnessed and encouraged in acts of war. They were also used in tournaments and often knights jousted for the purpose of knocking an adversary from his saddle and claiming the horse for himself as rules oft times allowed. A destrier could cost in the realm of £20-30 which was the equivalent of a common mans earnings of 10 years or more!

Chargers were war horses that were not as highly prized and more commonly found on a battlefield than a destrier. Less costly at around less than half the price of the destrier, they were still very much trained for battle but were less prestigious than their great cousins. They too were stallions for the same reasons.

My great-grandfather said it, and my great-granchildren will say it in the 21st Century… ‘Hurry Up and Wait;

Many people automatically picture a heavy draft when they picture a medieval war horse but this is not the case at all. Most draft breeds did not come about until the renaissance and some not until the time of the industrial revolution and they were bred for pulling heavy loads not for swift and agile manoeuvres in war and combat. Instead the medieval war horse has much in common to it’s descendants of Iberian stock. Andalusian, Lipizzaner, Barb, Lusitano, Knapstrupper and Frederiksborger are all horses which are highly likely to be a good facsimile of a medieval war horse. Clydesdales were never medieval war horses the breed being first recorded in the 19th century and shires originated only a hundred years earlier during the 18thC. It is still debated wether or not the Percheron was around and used as a war horse and if it was it was certainly different to the breed today. Friesians are also subject to an identical debate.

Other types of horses were

  1. courser: a horse used specifically for hunting or for endurance and speed,
  2. rouncey: riding horse,
  3. ambler: another riding horse that could move more swiftly,
  4. sumpter: a pack animal and
  5. hobilar: a rugged and hardy pony which later descended into a “hobby” horse.

All of these horses especially the war horse breeds would have been very fit and strong horses because of the fact that they were in constant use. Today we exercise horses for our events and then transport them to the event whereas in the Middle Ages they were the transport and their exercise was more often than not all of their everyday  practical activities.

This is the way we go to work, go to work, tra lah…..

Modern jousting horses are similar to the medieval horse in that breed is not important (except for those with large bank accounts and a determined approach to authenticity) but the ability and willingness of the horse to take on the task, excel and enjoy it most certainly is of great importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: Sir Justyn
{ Sir Justyn is a professional medieval educator, performer and fight instructor who attends events, schools and clubs, Australia-wide and internationally, bringing history to life wherever he goes.   You can see Sir Justyn’s Birds of Prey from the Full Flight Conservation Centre in the encampment of Eslite d’ Corps, the 14thC Living History group and household of Sir Justyn at the Abbey Medieval Festival.  Sir Justyn, Eslite d’ Corps (EdC) and Full Flight Conservation Centre can also be found on Facebook.  For more information on falconry and hawking visit EdC Medieval Falconry.}