Eight Horse Melee


I wish I had a photo to share from last Sunday’s Mounted Combat workshop.  The stars aligned so that all participants in the workshop were strong riders, and we had enough horses for everyone, including instructors.  That meant nearly three awesome hours of trading blows from horseback!  Having eight very different horses and riders on the field for that period of time offered the chance to experiment with timing, lines of attack and defence, and measure.  So I thought I would take a break this week from our tour through the Green Spur Swordplay from the Ground, and share some of my observations.

Position, position, position

I harp on rider position in riding lessons because it is so vital to good riding and good swordplay mechanics.  On Sunday I found that while I was concentrating on the line of my cut, the point of deflection, and clearing the sword to avoid hitting my horse, my position would deteriorate.  I needed to consciously put more weight in my stirrup irons and maintain a light seat.  Not only did my legs and seat bones become quieter, giving fewer false cues to my horse, my cuts became cleaner and more powerful as my waist and shoulders could rotate freely and my arm could extend further.


With two opposing circles of four horses we traded a lot of attacks.  When both horses are walking you have to be fast to get a riposte in after deflecting the opponent’s attack.  It is far easier to get your deflection and counterattack in if one horse is halted and the other is walking.  However, it would be suicidal to simply stand there in battle, even if it did make your initial defence easier.  I found the most effective plan was to halt or slow my horse when receiving an attack, then give her a light squeeze at the moment of deflection.  This added momentum to my attack and got me quickly out of reach of my opponent.  On occasion I even reined back during an opponent’s approach, waiting for the correct measure and timing before releasing forward.



Some horses, like the two thoroughbreds, were road hogs and unwilling to yield the path to oncoming horses.  Others were reluctant to get into a close measure.  This naturally affects the types of plays that are available.  We found we often had to adapt our defences at the last second, turning from false to true edge, or from deflection to block.  It is great to test your adaptability this way, but challenging if you have to think about your best response.  I was grateful for the long hours spent on the ground practising these moves so they came straight from muscle memory without too much thought.

Know your horse

We finished the day with a grand melee of all eight horses on the field.  Most riders developed different tactics according to the abilities and temperaments of their horses.  Some horses were good at leg-yeilding and turns on the forehand to allow their riders to swing behind an opponent.  Those who weren’t relied on speed or quicker parries to protect themselves after an intial tempo. 

It was a grand day, and I can hardly wait till the March Mounted Combat workshop!

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Mounted Archery

Plans are in the works to bring Robert Borsos of Borsos Torzs Archery to Red Colt for a Mounted Archery workshop in April or early May.  This workshop will be for experienced riders – Horsemanship and Riding level 2 or higher – but no archery experience is necessary.  Keep your eyes on this space for more details! 


In the meantime you can catch Robert and his horse archers at the Lower Mainland Quarter Horse Association Horseman’s Bazaar and Country Fair on Sunday March 17th.  Demos and clinics will be on offer for all experience levels, and registration is through the LMQHA.

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Upcoming Classes

Want to get some of that grand melee action at Mounted Combat or take part in the Mounted Archery workshops but don’t yet have your Riding levels signed off?  You need to come out to Cavaliere Classes.  A new series is starting this Sunday Feb 10th, and running every second Sunday until the end of March when we will be holding assessments.

Cavaliere Classes
Sundays 10, 24 Feb, 10, 24 March
1:00pm – 4:30pm
$60 per class; $200 for 4 classes
Integrated Package: $120 per month (includes Mounted Combat workshop)

This is an ideal time to get started, or get back in the saddle after a winter off, and be ready to make the most of spring and summer offerings.

With that in mind we have added another Intro to Mounted Combat class on Sunday March 3rd.  There are only three spots left in the April workshop, so this may be your only chance to learn to ride and swordfight from horseback before the program swings into high gear for summer.

Intro to Mounted Combat
Sunday 3 March, 10am - 4pm
cost: $149

Mounted Combat
Sunday 3 March 1pm - 4pm
cost: $60

Integrated Package
Mounted Combat + 2 Cavaliere Classes
Sundays 3, 10 & 24 March, 1pm - 4/4:30pm
cost: $120 for all 3 classes

To sign up call the front desk at 604 568 9907.  Our full Cavaliere Calendar can be seen here:

Jennifer Landels, Maestra di Scuderia
Academie Duello Cavaliere Program

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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.
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