"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


Jousts were friendly contests fought by two mounted participants armed with lances, with the object of unseating the opponent or at least breaking one's lance squarely on the other contestant's shield or helmet. Well-trained horses for the joust were extremely expensive and were usually protected with armor. The shaffron was often "blind"––that is, the eyes were covered so as to prevent the horse from shying away at the opponent's approach. (The rondel attached to this example is a late nineteenth-century restoration.)