Jousting is alive and well, and the Maryland Horse Industry Board has just formally acknowledged the efforts of its top performers in the state sport.
Buddy Wooters, a six-time US jousting champion, was among jousters honored by board in their home state.
Wooters is among the four national reigning jousting champions, all from Maryland, who were named as Touch of Class Award winners last Saturday by the board.
The other winners were Vincent Reinhold, also from Denton; and Ian Flaherty and his older sister, Lily Fisher-Flaherty, from Lusby, in Calvert County.
They won their titles last fall at the National Jousting Association Championships in Brunswick.
The association includes members from Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.
Modern-day, or ring jousting, became the Maryland state sport in 1962.
It is a recreational equestrian sport in which riders of all ages and levels of expertise race their horses on an 80-yard straight track while spearing three rings suspended from arches.
It is a timed competition that requires skilled horsemanship, athletic ability and excellent hand-eye coordination because the size of the rings becomes increasingly smaller as the level of competition progresses.
Maryland Horse Industry Board chairman Jim Steele said: “We are thankful that these folks and the Maryland Jousting Association keep our unique state sport of jousting alive and well.
“Some of our current tournaments are nearly 150 years old and the tradition goes back to the colonization of Maryland by Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore.”
Wooters, 42, is the Professional Class national champion, riding his Arab-Pinto cross named Romeo. His nephew, Vincent Reinhold, 17, a tenth grader at North Caroline High School, also competed with Romeo, winning the Amateur Class title.
Ian Flaherty, 12, earned his title in the Novice Class on his Morgan/Percheron mare, Maggie. His older sister Lily, 18, won with her American Warmblood gelding, Sunny. It was the third straight national title for the siblings. They are coached by their mother, Viviane Fisher-Flaherty, who operates Tynwedd Stables in St Leonards. She specializes in teaching jousting to people of all ages.
The Maryland Horse Industry Board initiated the Touch of Class award in September 2011 to showcase Maryland people and horses each month who achieve national and international recognition.
Since the award’s inception, MHIB has honored 77 people, 29 horses, ponies, mules and donkeys from 14 different Maryland counties in 24 different equestrian disciplines.
The award honors the memory of the Maryland-bred mare, Touch of Class, who won two show jumping gold medals in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.