It may have once been the preserve of kings but Rural Affairs Reporter Sarah Probert stepped back in time to take on medieval knights in a jousting competition...

Think 14th century England. You are surrounded by handkerchief waving maidens and sit astride your steed, lance proudly raised in the air.

Your horse, excited by the electric atmosphere, aims for a large puddle and begins pawing at the ground covering your deep red cape in a splattering of mud.

This is perhaps not supposed to happen. Luckily the helm covering your face hides a sense of embarrassment and you discreetly ride on to face your opponent.

Tucking lance under arm, you gallop towards your rival knight before using the end of your lance to clash with his shield, knocking him off his horse.

With the surrounding Warwickshire countryside and Warwick Castle a stones throw away, this could be medieval England.

In fact, it is Warwick International School of Riding and the only maidens are the ones trotting ponies over jumps in a neighbouring field.

Here, in this picturesque setting, a team calling themselves the Knights of Middle England are reviving the traditional sport which almost claimed the life of Henry VIII, himself a keen jouster.

The pastime originally used in battle by the Normans, was as popular as football in its day but was a sport for the rich lucky enough to own a horse.

For them, their heavy armour cost as much as a house would today and they would need the help of two others just to climb into it.

I have the help of Karl Ude-Martinez, aged 26, a professional polo player and actor who runs the company with his 24-year-old colleague Edward Long.

Weighed down with chain mail, armour, cape and helm, it is almost impossible to mount my horse without flinging myself off a high bank and hoping I land on its back.

"Jousting is part of our tradition and we are trying to keep it alive. All guys want to be a knight, everybody has it in them. As soon as you put on that armour you feel a bit invincible. We have got all this history in us and we should try to bring it out," Karl explained.

Once in the saddle, I feel ready to take on my opponents, but as I get into a steady canter my helm slips and I am completely blind. After a quick adjustment of the head gear, my task is to slip my lance through a series of small rings along a tilt - a fence where jousting knights would run alongside to strike their opponent.

I hit the rings but fail to loop them onto my lance but riding one handed with a 12ft heavy pole tucked under your arm is exhausting work.

My next task is to hit a quintaine, or rotating board, which would have been used by knights for practising their skills.

This is more successful, and a good hard prod with the lance sends it spinning.

The final task is to hit your opponent on their shield as you gallop along the tilt, and a great satisfying prod leaves you feeling confident and successful.

This beats paint balling and go-karting hands down and it is not surprising that jousting is becoming a popular activity for hen and stag weekends or corporate team building days.

The company, which also performs regularly at shows across the country, has seen a surge in interest in jousting over the last few years despite keeping the experience they offer fairly quiet.

"We have hen and stag weekends and you get the men saying they want to hit each other and gallop as fast as they can but as soon as they start putting the armour on they completely change."

But a weekend of jousting is very different to the life a real knight would have faced.

"For a real knight, life would have been tough. You would have need to be a good horseman, intelligent, good with the ladies and be able to dance. They would have also had to have etiquette and obviously be able to joust," Karl said.

Well, I suppose I will just have to keep practising.

Read more about jousting in this month's Rural Living magazine, free with The Birmingham Post on April 20.