Cutting at the Canter

Blue Spur Mounted Games: Block Cutting

The second mounted games skill we ask you to demonstrate for the Blue Spur is cutting to the blocks:

Cut and thrust four out of five block targets using a synthetic or wooden sword in good form, three times in a row, while at a trot or canter.

The blocks, which are roughly 3" sections of 2x4 wood, are placed on jump standards of varying heights.  Your goal is to demonstrate good cutting and thrusting form to knock them from the standards at a trot or canter, from both sides of the horse.  Here's what we're looking for:

  • A variety of cuts: mandritti, roversi, rising, descending, and horizontal.  Your series of blocks will either be in one straight line, or a corridor of two lines of standards with a turnaround marker at the end.  Plan your cuts and your path so you have the opportunity to demonstrate cuts on both sides of your horse.
  • Good cutting form: we are looking for true edge cuts (false edge cuts tend to send the blocks towards your horse) that have a straight path, a controlled follow-through and good body mechanics. Holding your sword out to the side and sweeping the blocks off as you pass is not sufficient.blocks thrust
  • Point-on thrusts: the tip of the sword needs to hit the target head-on.
  • Safety: make sure you do not hit your horse with either your sword or the flying block.


  • To avoid hitting your horse with the block, perform your mandritti across the horse's neck, and your roversi on the same side as your sword hand.  That is, if you're right handed, cut forehand on your horse's left, and backhand on your right. This sends the blocks backward and away from you.blocks mandritto
  • If you do want to cut a mandritto on the right side of the horse, time it late so the blow lands as your horse's body passes the post.  The same applies to roversi on the left.  Descending and rising cuts require slightly different timing that can only be refined through practice.
  • In all cases point control is essential.  The block will travel in the same direction in which your sword tip ends up pointing.  Elbow and wrist cuts will allow finer control than big shoulder cuts.
  • Maintain a deep, independent seat.  Unlike rings, where steady targetting is aided by two-point position, cutting is best done in a full seat with the waist and shoulders turning independently of the legs.  Even when delivering a thrust during this exercise it's best to stay in your deep seat, as there isn't time to switch from one seat to the other in the space between standards.

At this stage we don't expect you to time your downward cuts to land on the downbeat of the canter, but it is always something you can work towards for a more powerful blow.  The more time you spend practising cutting, whether from the ground or the saddle, and with or without targets, the better your power and accuracy.

Holiday Hiatus

During most of December and January the Mounted Combat Program is taking a break, and will start back up on January 31st with our first playday of the year.  However, if you'd like to keep your riding legs in shape you can book private lessons with Steph, Jen or Kate over the next two months.  Email jennifer(at) for available dates.Jack 1

A one - or two-day lease is also a good way to get more riding in.  A one-day lease gives you an afternoon or morning each week to ride one of our horses on your own.  You must have a minimum of Riding and Horsemanship Level 1 to lease, and commit to one lesson per month.

1 day per week = $135 per month.  Includes 1 free lesson, booked separately.
2 days per week = $215 per month.  Includes 1 free lesson, booked separately.
Flex lease = $120 for 4 rides, booked individually.  Lessons not included.

Email jennifer(at) for more info.Jimmie & Kimmie Cropped

To hone your swordplay, consider enrolling in Warrior Fundamentals, Mastery classes, or Focus classes.  Check the schedule to see what's available.  And of course, don't forget to come out to Open Floor every Friday evening (except Christmas and New Years).

See you in the saddle or at the salle!



Jennifer Landels heads up Academie Duello's Cavaliere Program. She has been swordfighting since 2008, and riding since before she could walk. She started the program as an excuse to combine those passions.
Read more from Jennifer Landels.