As the first jousting tournament in 400 years takes place, organisers hope that Malta will take up the ancient art as a sport in the future

The silky dark brown horse snorts, its head reared downwards, eyes fixed on the opponent metres away. Its caparison, featuring his rider’s heraldic signs, flaps in the warm spring breeze. Stamping its front right hoof nervously, it curls its head inwards, eyes never leaving the opponent.

Jouster Stacy Evans swings the lance, flexes his neck and prepares to charge. A subtle tap on the horse’s thigh, with the back of his heel, sets the animal running at 25 miles per hour.

The opponent charges back at the same speed.

The arena is silent except for the jangling of the jousters’ heavy armour and the horses’ heavy stomping.

The strike comes at an impact of 50 miles per hour, as splinters of lances and pieces of wood fly high and the horses slow down, snorting.

Half a century ago, the arena would have filled with cheers as the audience applauded the chivalrous winner... but Mr Evans is a professional British jouster who practises this martial game as a sport.

In fact, nowadays, the primary purpose of jousting is not to unhorse the other by striking him with the end of the lance but to break your lance by hitting the opponent’s shield on his chest.

Mr Evans forms part of a team of German and British jousters who are taking part in the Malta Jousting Tournament organised by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna for this weekend at Fort Rinella in Kalkara.

This is the first jousting tournament on the island for the past 400 years. The organisers hope Malta will take up jousting as a new sport.

FWA wants to invest in an armour suit, which costs some £50,000, so that Malta can participate in similar tournaments.

Cleaven Desira is one prospective jouster. The 27-year old has been training for the past three years. However, he still trains on static targets and not jousters.

He feels it is important, as a site curator, to familiarise himself with the traditions he speaks about... and what better way than to practise the sport itself.

The foundation’s tournament will this weekend take spectators through a journey of chivalry and courage, from the cavalry clashes to on-ground sword fighting.

Doors will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. The main event, including jousting, will take place between 2 and 4.30 p.m.

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