Exactly one year less a day after our first ever Cavaliere workshop, Academie Duello hosted its first ever Mounted Tournament. The weather was beautiful, the crowds enthusiastic, the volunteers awesome, and the competition both fierce and friendly.
We started our day with the Team Groom Competition, in which teams of two had 45 minutes to groom and correctly tack up their mounts. Our judges from Richmond Pony Club awarded first prize to Kirsten & Blake with Mystery, who had perfect tack and a beautiful running braid.
Games in the Open Division required speed, accuracy and bravery on the parts of both horses and riders, in spearing rings, balloons, litter, feedbags and straw bales with swords, staves and javelin. Despite being given a 10 second handicap in each of their races Kate & Gracie took the high-point, just squeezing out Kirsten & Mystery by one point.
Cat & Flavie also edged out Yan & Winnie by a single point, proving that in the Novice Division slow and steady sometimes wins out over crazy ex-racehorse speed.
Adam & Flavie won the high point and nearly made a clean sweep of the Beginner Division, though Dan & Flavie managed to grab one of those blue ribbons in the rings competition.
The Unmounted Games were run in relays with teams of four. Team Europa, consisting of Aurelia, Kaja, Tom and Yan, handily took the high point, winning four of the six games. I was impressed by all the participants, who were running full-out on soft hogfuel in the heat of the afternoon sun; and particularly by Team RPC (Richmond Pony Club) who came within 1 second of stealing a blue ribbon, not once but twice, from Team Europa despite a collective age difference of around 100 years (never mind height and weight disparities)!
And finally the Purple Heart and Award for Ice in the Veins go to Aurelia who, after taking a kick in the face, got right back on a spooked Jack and finished her division. Bravo!
Congratulations to all our riders: Aurelia, Tom, Kirsten, Eleanor, Kate, Isabel, Yan, Devon, Laura, Cat, Konur, Misty, Roland, Dan and Adam. Many of you were riding horses new to you, and horses that were new to these games. It was not always easy, but you all showed persistance, courage, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm in spades. I am proud to be part of such a fabulous group of horsemen and -women.
There are so many people to thank: the parents and members of Richmond Pony Club who provided judges, ran the concession, and wrangled horses; my timers / scorekeepers, Diana, Jason, Misty, Laura and Alex, who sat in the hot sun and dust, their eyes glued to the finish line, and their thumbs on their stopwatches; the many groundsmen who reset games (there are too many to name, and I know I will forget someone — but you know who you are); Aurelia for acquiring ribbons and providing moral support; Adam for running classes to entertain the masses; Heather for all her work on the horses; Ben who built a large part of our equipment (the list standards are awesome!) and Roland and Chris who organized and moved much of the rest; the Fabulous Ringtones for lending their PA; Tom Leoni for flying out from Virginia and making this an International Event; Micha for taking over the responsibility of the front desk; Cat and Devon for generally holding down the fort in the yard while I was out in the ring all day; and all of you who came out early, and all of you who stayed late (Laura & Dan being the earliest and the latest), who helped me keep my sanity.
Thanks to you all, it was a day to remember!
Jennifer Landels, Maestra di Scuderia
Academie Duello Cavaliere Program
PS: Photos and full results sheet to follow