All in a day's work - the jouster
Historical horseman Dominic Sewell [pictured] on the honour of reburying King Richard III and hacking out with a spear
It wasn’t until I became a reenactor in my late 20s that I saw the potential for historical riding. I sat on a horse once in my early teens, but didn’t pursue it any further.
There were a few cavalry reenactment groups around in the 1990s, but nothing really medieval. So a group of us kicked this off in 1996 at the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471) reenactment, forming jousting group Destrier.
After finding myself cantering out of control at great speed, I realised I needed to learn a lot more about riding. I took lessons at my local stables and they helped me get into the groove. I started working there, too, learning from the ground up.
Eventually, I quit my day job as a teaching assistant and formed Historic Equitation. My yard is near Kettering, Northamptonshire, and we have11 horses. It’s a fully prepared tournament yard, with equipment set up all the time, and jousting forms about 60% of our income.
We do tournaments, displays and reenactments, from Norman cavalry at the Battle of Hastings (1066) right up to 1660 with classical riding in the Duke of Newcastle’s original riding house at Bolsover. You’ll see us at many events, including at Carisbrooke Castle and Alnwick Castle each August, which are the only solid-lance jousting competitions in England.
I also rode in the 2015 pageant to rebury the remains of King Richard III in Leicester, which was a real honour.
It’s 24/7, 365 days a year job, but I enjoy it more than ever, if that’s possible. It’s so wonderful to wake up in the morning, spend a few hours in the office and then go out to the yard to train. I know more and get more out of my horses ...