The riders' helmets are closed, and they raise 12-foot lances. Rope strung between posts separates their lanes, or the lists.
At a signal the horses charge. Their hooves pound the heavy grass. The knights keep the lances raised until the last second, cradled on their outside arms. Just as they meet they lower the lances to the horizontal, across their bodies, aiming for the opponent.
On the first pass one nicks the other, earning a point. On the second pass the other makes a solid enough contact to shatter the balsa wood end-section of the lance, scoring again. On the third pass he plants his lance solidly in the target and feels his opponent slip off his mount. An unhorsing. The crowd goes wild.
For some video of last year's joust, check out part 2 of our 3 part video here.