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Rafe says, the contests had not begun, he was running at the ring, the point of his lance scooped the eye of the circle. Then the horse stumbled under him, man and rider down, horse rolling with a scream and Henry beneath it.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

What is the meaning of the phrase?

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It' a dexterity/riding contest that dates back to medieval times:

A rider uses a lance and aims at a small ring suspended from a rope or on a stick. What was a relatively risk-free exercise for squires1 is today still a local equestrian sport in Denmark, north-western Germany and the Netherlands.

I included a newspaper article, which gives a short overview of the modern sport and some additional pictures


1 Boys training to become knights

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