Losing the Reliance on Reins

Riding Level II: Single-handed Transitions and Turns

As you progress through your riding for mounted combat you will eventually want to be able to guide your horse without reins.  In the interim, you will do most of your fighting with one hand on the reins.  At level two we check on your ability to guide your horse with overhand reining:

7. Single hand (overhand) reining at walk & trot with transitions and direction change

Review single-handed reining  in the post Freeing the Sword Hand.  Those of you who have tried this will have noticed that overhand reining requires much more guidance from the seat and legs.  Learning to steer from the seat at this level in your training, while more difficult, is not a bad thing.  It’s something advanced riders use all the time.  Although the techniques require lots of practice to perfect, the principles involved are simple.

Horses move away from leg pressure

If you want your horse to move to left, use pressure at the girth with your right leg.  To move just the hindquarters, slide the leg back slightly.

Horses can tell where you’re looking

Your head weighs as much as a bowling ball, and your horse can feel it turn.  Don’t believe me?  Try this experiment:  sit on a firm chair with your knees higher than your seat bones (use a footstool to get the knees up).  Sit straight and feel the weight distributed evenly between your seat bones.  Now turn your head from one side to the other.  Although it is very subtle, you should be able to feel a natural shift in weight.  As you look left, the seatbone on the right takes slightly more weight.  Now add shoulders, and you will feel a dramatic shift in pressure.  This is why the first element of any change of direction is the rider’s focus: where you look, your horse will follow.

Horses like to feel balanced

If you shift your weight so it is more in one stirrup your horse will try to move sideways to compensate, just like a waiter carrying an imbalanced tray will move his hand under the centre of gravity to balance it.  If your horse tends to cut in on turns, put more weight in the outside stirrup as you circle.  If you want your horse to cut close to bending poles, shift your weight towards each pole.

Your seat affects paceno hands

To encourage forward movement, allow your seat to move freely with the horse.  To slow your horse, ‘block’ forward movement by stilling your seat using your upper thighs and abdominals.  A well-trained horse should slow, and a very well-trained one will halt, just from the commands of the seat.

Every once in a while take time to put your horse ‘on the buckle’ — ie, hold the reins only at the buckle so they are very loose — and practise turns without using the reins.  Start at the walk, and when you have some success with that you can knot your reins and try dropping them at faster paces.  After that, steering with a single-hand on the reins will be a piece of cake.


September at the Stables

There’s a ton of stuff happening this month, and September is often the nicest time to be out at the barn, so make a commitment to come on out and take part in it all!

Shedrow II

Our work parties to commence the west shedrow will be on Friday, Saturday & over the long weekend.

Friday August 30th: post-pulling and surveying, from about 3-6pm

Saturday August 31st: drilling holes & pouring cement from 9am  till all 18 footings are poured.  We’ll need a few muscly people to switch off on the augur, and a team of people to mix and pour cement.

Monday September 2nd: this is the big day.  We need ladders, carpentry tools, and lots of people to put up the posts and beams! 9am – 5pm.

Come for however many hours you can make. Refreshments provided, plus all you can pick blackberries.  All help gratefully received!

Cavaliere Program

Mounted Games Practices:  Fridays, 5-7pm, from now until Carosella.  Get your game on!

Intro to Mounted Combat: Sunday 8 September, 10am – 12:30pm

Mounted Combat Workshop: Sunday 8 September, 1 – 4pm

Cavaliere Classes: Saturdays 13 & 22nd September, 4- 7:30pm.  Last Saturday classes for the year, and las chance to get your riding up to par before Carosella.  Assessments on 22 September.

Carosella 2013:  Three full days of Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, longsword, spear, riding, and games, culminating in our annual Knightly Games tournament.  There is something here for everyone — don’t miss out!



Jennifer Landels 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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