Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Return of the Black Knight

The True Story of the Knights of Mayhem Episode 6:

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, National Geographic TV aired the sixth and final episode # 6 of the “Knights of Mayhem” (KOM). Titled “The Return of the Black Knight”, Patrick Lambke, aka The Black Knight, returned to the show in Estes Park, CO to compete in the Heavy Armor Jousting World Championship at the Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highland Festival.  Unfortunately, editing omissions on TV showed a different story from the reality of the event. 

Sometimes great stories and movies have bad endings that leave us saddened and disappointed, but in this dramatic tale of The Black Knight and his mount the Andalusian Stallion Distinto, the TRUE ending did happen the way you would have wanted...

The Championship held in Estes Park consisted of three days of medieval games, light armor and heavy armor jousting. What the National Geographic TV audience DID NOT SEE was any footage of the actual third (and final) day of events with regards to Distinto and The Black Knight. Only the crowds that attended got to see the dramatic "Rocky" story unfold.

The Black Knight and Distinto
battling down the lyst.
Helen Daniel and I had brought my horse Distinto and her horse Rex, 900 miles to compete in Medieval Games and Light Armor and to join up with our Black Knight Team that Patrick Lambke had trained. In a last-minute decision, Distinto, my 17 hand Pure Spanish Andalusian Stallion, bravely went into the lyst (or field of competition) for the first time on day two of the Jousting Tournament with The Black Knight.  “The first round was total destruction, and his opponent was unhorsed twice”.¹  Those in attendance saw a magnificently brave stallion, whose heart and bloodlines rose to answer the call of battle. This was the horse's first public competition with heavy armor and no true horse person can help but admire his performance, despite his inexperience.

Each match consists of four passes, but The Black Knight and his opponent were tied at the end of the fourth pass. Delays on the field contributed to Distinto’s impatience and the delays may have been partially caused by the confusion of the tie and the need for a fifth tie-breaker pass.  Distinto's eagerness to "charge on" caused him to start backing up; in doing so, he hit the rope barrier and he fell. Neither Distinto nor The Black Knight were hurt from the fall (thank you to all who were asking). Both were checked over thoroughly before being allowed to compete on the following day. 

If you watched the TV show, you were given the impression that among the competitors, only The Black Knight had horsemanship problems. Selective editing omitted all footage of other competitor’s horses on any of these days tearing down the lyst (ropes), balking and refusing to go when the charge was on. Many horse/rider teams other than The Black Knight's were threatened with horsemanship point deductions due to their horse’s behavior.

The TV show also led viewers to believe that this fall was the end of the competition - that Patrick gave up and never got back up on any horse and never faced off again in the tournament. The filmmakers created the impression that Charlie Andrews won the championship in part because Patrick conceded the match after Distinto’s fall. THIS IS NOT TRUE! This was merely the beginning of the heroic comeback of The Black Knight and Distinto.

The Black Knight and Distinto
on the 3rd day. 
Patrick and Distinto returned to battle on the third day ready to charge down the lyst against their worthy adversaries. The two of them gave the crowds the medieval show that they wanted to see. They had won the hearts and hopes and dreams of the huge crowd that attended. But because of the “selective editing,” not one TV viewer saw any footage of Distinto and The Black Knight and their spectacular comeback on day three of the competition.

The Black Knight never switched from Distinto to any other horse that day. The team succeeded until the next to last round when The Black Knight took on Greg Boxma, a brave and worthy opponent whom he unhorsed early in this match. Greg battled back and was announced the winner of their  match. 
Gregg Boxma  continued on to joust Charlie Andrews, who won the match against Greg and became the Heavy Armor World Champion. The Black Knight was a resounding overall second of the Estes Park Competition.
(National Geographic never clearly revealed his second place final overall  placement out of all the competitors.)

We, the competitors, worked very hard to be there. Many of us drove great distances with our horses and spent time away from work and family, in addition to the time spent setting up and practicing at home. The Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highlands Festival graciously compensated some of our travel expenses and paid placement winnings.  We all had a great time while we were there with Knights of Mayhem and their great horses. It is too bad that this TV show did not give much coverage to  many other competitors and their horses for their achievements.

The TV viewers also missed the heartwarming scenes of the audience in the stands petting Distinto and clamoring for autographs from the Black Knight himself every day. 

A horse fit for a king in his most
glorious day of battle!
Don't let this televised perspective and some uneducated commentary disillusion you about fine Baroque horses like Distinto. Real horsemen and horsewomen recognize his high level performance  as an inherent trait of the Baroque horse and emblematic of steeds ridden to war by the noblemen of Europe. Distinto is the first Andalusian horse that has competed in North America in full armor against the big draft horses. He is courageous and bold and loved competing - just check out his expressions in our YouTube videos and in the photos.

Lisa and Distinto competing in
Medieval Games
This letter is not about winning or losing, it is about honor and dignity and truth. It is about rectifying the negative image created by the National Geographic show. Distinto is a proud, happy and wonderful horse who loved his time in the spotlight and jousting with the best there is - The Black Knight!

Written By: Lisa Oberman
Edited by: Nancy Matolak with additional assistance by Elizabeth Creamer
Photos by: Lauren Sturges

¹ A Knight's Tale,  Helen Daniel, "The Alliance Source Magazine", Vol.1 Issue 3, September 2011, pages 48-49.

Note: Helen Daniel has also just released a new book called "The Medieval Knights of North America”  including an accounting of the events of this match, North American jousting, and Patrick Lambke .

Click HERE to buy the ebook