WEST NEWTON (KDKA) — Jousting knights in shining armor are a highlight of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival in West Newton.
They perform on weekends. Weekdays are reserved for training – lots of it.
A weekend jouster needs a lot of practice to perform for cheering crowds, not to mention royalty.
Brian Fertal saddles his horse, and Felix Sanchez does likewise. Wednesday through Friday is practice days for riders and horses alike.
“Essentially, what we do is go over and over the patterns we’re going to have the horses run in,” Brian says. “So that when they get there, and there’s flags and trumpets and people screaming, it’s just like, ‘All right, I know what I have to do and all that doesn’t really matter.'”
It takes a lot of work for horse and rider to mesh, in the kingdom of Westmorelandshire.
“We try to make it look like we’re trying to kill one another,” Fertal adds, “but at the same time, we’re trying to be as safe and gentle as we possibly can.”
Each rider dons 45 pounds of armor.
Brian says he’s had an injury or two in 17 years of jousting.
Falls from the horse are scripted, but they still can hurt.
“You hit the ground once and you roll it out,” he says. “Kicks up a big cloud of dust, and it looks like you’re not going to get up, and then you get up and go on to the next phase of the show. l equate it to a football player on Monday morning, feeling the same aches and pains and bruises. I wouldn’t try it at home.”