Knights of the Tempest shares passion for medieval jousting and mounted sports with Edwards clinic
While attending Colorado State University and playing polo, Kryssi Jeaux Miller learned how to lance and wield a sword on horseback from a friend-of-a-friend. Since that day 10 years ago, she’s become the “crazy jousting lady” who teaches the next generation all things medieval mounted sports.
Miller, one of the founding members of medieval mounted games performance group Knights of The Tempest, is bringing the Mounted Medieval Games Clinic to Eagle County. Hosted at the small Alianza Peruvian Paso Horse Ranch up Squaw Creek Road in Edwards, sportsmen and women will learn how to swing swords and throw spears off horseback on Sunday.
All skill levels are welcome to join with advance sign-up, but should be able to bring a horse since Miller will not be bringing any loaner horses. Every clinic is different, she said, but so far, most of the riders have some experience, so she’ll be focusing on enhancing skills.
“It’s a really cool group of horses and riders,” she said. “I’ve taught people how to ride and joust in a weekend, so anything’s possible. I’d take anyone who shows up.”
Knights of the Tempest had hosted this clinic for the past two years at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. When the group wasn’t able to book the fairgrounds, Miller’s friend Kendra Pardee, who’s been riding with the group for some time, offered up her ranch as an alternative.
Sunday marks the first and only clinic Knights of the Tempest has been able to offer this year. Last weekend, they hosted a small tournament in Byers, Colorado, where Miller currently lives and trains horses.
“For the past decade, from pretty much March to November, that’s Renaissance Season,” she said.
Knights of the Tempest typically keeps busy during Renaissance Season by performing at Renaissance fairs, weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more. But with so many events canceled, their season was effectively canceled before it even started.
To prevent their skills (and swords) from getting rusty, everyone has stayed busy by practicing and training. For many years, the group was based in Fort Collins, but as it evolved, members moved. Now, the medieval games practitioners are based in Fort Collins, Denver, Longmont, Loveland and more.
“That’s one of my favorite things about the troupe. Everyone is so personally motivated. There’s so much training and so much you can get done,” she said.
For those with easy horse access like Miller, that meant training young war horses. For others, it meant fine tuning costumes — yes, they wear full chainmail and armor — and writing scripts for each performance. It was a time for everyone to breathe and work on projects that might be pushed to the side during a normal busy season.
New jousters will be able to learn at the Edwards clinic, but how does a jousting teacher learn to joust? Miller said usually you meet someone who jousts, and technique is shared by passing down the tradition.
“It’s a very small community,” she said. “If you know one jouster, you know them all, more or less.”
She’s always liked contact and horse sports. While she was playing polo at CSU, she met a professional jouster in the Fort Collins area.
“It was everything I wanted in a horse sport right away,” she said. “It’s really a welcoming, supportive community.”
She and the group’s two other founders, Bryan Connolly and Jo O’Brien, started training and gathering equipment. She and Connolly were theater majors and O’Brien was a novelist. They’re all performers in their own right, so doing jousting performances at Renaissance fairs seemed like a natural next step. A few years later in 2016, they formed Knights of the Tempest and added members, most of whom were some of Miller’s more avid horseback riding students.
“You show up at a few functions where people are on horses with swords, and you wake up in a field in Montana five years later like, ‘How did I get here?’” Miller said.
While Miller no longer spends much time as a horseback riding instructor, hosting medieval mouted games clinics allows her to teach and share her knowledge. She loves the rush she gets when she steps into the arena, and she’s loved it since the first lance she hit.
“It’s exhilarating, It’s empowering. I like teaching because I love how it makes me feel,” Miller said. “I get to do that to other people. It’s really fun getting to watch other people do what I love.”
Plus, it’s just fun.
“Imagine, just dream with me for a moment,” Miller said. “That you’re on a horse, and you’re streaking, charging down the field with your spear. And then you’ve got your blood-curdling battle cry. And you loose your spear into a pumpkin, and you get to watch it explode while you’re surrounded by golden aspens.”
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