In the HFS, a few kingdoms have equestrian activities. Among those activities there is some contact jousting. Mostly those few kingdoms that allow for equestrian activities practice the games of skill that squires and other mounted warriors would have partaken in, in the medieval period.
As has been said jousting formed part of the tournament event from as early a time as it can be observed. It was an evening prelude to the big day, and was also a preliminary to the grand charge on the day itself. In the 12th century jousting was occasionally banned in tournaments. The reasons given are that it distracted knights from the main event, and allowed a form of cheating. Count Philip of Flanders made a practice in the 1160s of turning up armed with his retinue to the preliminary jousts, and then declining to join the mêlée until the knights were exhausted and ransoms could be swept up.
But jousting had its own devoted constituency by the early 13th century, and in the 1220s it began to have its own exclusive events outside the tournament. The biographer of William Marshal observed c.1224 that in his day noblemen were more interested in jousting than tourneying. In 1223 we have the first mention of an exclusively jousting event, the 'Round Table' held in Cyprus by John d'Ibelin, lord of Beirut. Round Tables were a 13th-century enthusiasm and can be reconstructed to have been an elimination jousting event. They were held for knights and squires alike. Other forms of jousting also arose during the century, and by the 14th century the joust was poised to take over the vacancy in aristocratic amusement caused by the decline of the tournament.
The skills used in tournaments were a reflection of the martial skills applied to battle where the primary purpose was to try to kill or disable an opponent. The primary purpose of the jousting lance is to unhorse the other by striking them with the end of the lance while riding towards them at high speed. This is known as "tilting". Other weapons were also used for jousting.
The lists, or list field, is the arena in which a jousting event or similar tournament is held. More precisely, it is the roped-off enclosure where tournament fighting takes place. It is mentioned frequently in the novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. In the late medieval period, castles and palaces were augmented by purpose-built tiltyards as a venue for "jousting tournaments".
The two most common kinds of horse used for jousting were warmblood chargers and coldblood destriers. Chargers were medium-weight horses bred and trained for agility and stamina, while destriers were heavy war horses. These were larger and slower, but helpful to give devastating force to the rider's lance through its weight being about twice as great as that of a traditional riding horse. The horses were trained for ambling, a kind of pace that provided the rider with stability in order to be able to focus and aim better with the lance.
During a jousting tournament, the horses were cared for by their grooms in their respective tents. They wore caparisons, a type of ornamental cloth featuring the owner's heraldic signs. Competing horses had their heads protected by a chanfron, an iron shield for protection from otherwise lethal lance hits.
Other forms of equipment on the horse included long-necked spurs which enabled the rider to control the horse with extended legs, a saddle with a high back to provide leverage during the charge or when hit, as well as stirrups for the necessary leverage to deliver blows with the lance.
Jousting was popular from the high Middle Ages until the early 1600s, when it was replaced as the equine highlight of court festivities by large "horse-ballet" displays called carousels, although non-combat competitions such as the ring-tilt lasted until the 18th century. During the period jousting was popular, armour evolved from being chain mail (called simply mail at the time), with a solid, heavy helmet, called a "great helm", and shield. By 1400 knights wore full suits of plate armour, called a "harness". A full harness frequently included extra pieces specifically for use in jousting, so that a light military combat suit could be reinforced with heavier, "bolt-on" protective plates on the cuirass (breastplate) and helmet, and also with jousting-specific arm and shoulder pieces, which traded mobility for extra protection. These extra pieces were usually much stronger on the side expected to take the impact of the lance. Special jousting helmets were sometimes used, made so that the wearer could only see out by leaning forwards. If the wearer straightened up just before the impact of the lance, the eyes would be completely protected. Some later suits had a small shield built-in the left side of the armour. In some cases this was spring loaded to fly into pieces if struck properly by the opponent's lance.
In modern times, jousting is often done for show or demonstration purposes, and the lances used are usually made of light wood and prepared so that they break easily. Lances are often decorated with stripes or the colors of a knight's coat of arms. In a real joust, the lances were of solid oak and a significant strike was needed to shatter them. However, the (blunt) lances would not usually penetrate the steel. The harnesses worn by the knights were lined on the inside with plenty of cloth to soften the blow from the lance.
Modern day jousting or tilting has been kept alive by the International Jousting Association, which has strict guidelines for the quality and authenticity of jousters' armour & equipment, and has developed the use of breakable lance tips for safety.
Jousting under the International Jousting Association rules follows a points system where points are given for breaking the lance tip on the opposing knight's shield; note that there are no points given for unhorsing an opponent. International Jousting Association sanctioned tournaments also include skill at arms where the riders display their horsemanship and weapons handling skills with swords on the Moors Head, they use spears for the rings and spear throw, and use the lance against a spinning quintain. Many International Jousting Association tournaments also include a mounted melee with fully armoured riders using padded batons in place of swords for safety. None of the International Jousting Association events are theatrically based and they offer the public a chance to observe living history as opposed to entertainment oriented jousting.
Today, tent pegging is the only form of jousting officially recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports. The sport involves using a lance or sword to strike and carry away a small wooden ground target. The name "tent pegging" is derived from the cavalry tactic of causing confusion in enemy camps by galloping though the camps and collapsing the tents by pulling up the tent peg anchors with well-placed lance tip strikes. The actual sport of tent pegging, however, originated in medieval India, when horse cavalrymen would try to incapacitate elephant cavalry by striking the elephants with lances on their extremely sensitive toenails.