"Blind" Shaffron (Horse's Head Defense) for the Joust

Date: ca. 1490; rondel, late 19th century

Culture: German

Medium: Steel, brass, textile, leather

Dimensions: H. 21 1/4 in. (54.1 cm); W. 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm); D. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm); Wt. 5 lb. 13 oz. (2638 g)

Classification: Equestrian Equipment-Shaffrons

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1904

Accession Number: 04.3.292


The joust, of which there were many variations, was a friendly contest fought by two mounted participants armed with lances, with the object of breaking one's lance squarely on the other contestant's shield, helmet, shoulder guard, or breastplate, or—in some instances—of unseating the opponent. Well-trained horses for the joust, like war horses, were extremely expensive and sought-after animals, which were usually protected with armor, including a steel shaffron, often "blind," with the eyes covered so as to prevent the horse from shying with the opponent's approach.

The ridged rondel attached to this example is a late nineteenth-century restoration.