Team Riding: Pas de Deux

In September, I posted on the importance of team riding to develop mounted combat skills and delved into how to make successful hand-offs.  Today I'm focussing on precision over speed as we look at drill team riding.

Riding Level 4: Team Riding, pt II

For Riding Level 4 you will need to demonstrate:

15. Simple pairs pattern, walk & trot, with circles & turns in line and parallel.

For the exam, you will not have to prepare a pairs ride ahead of time.  Instead, the examiner will dictate a short pattern to you, which you will have a chance to run through once.  The pattern will be called – after all, we are not testing your memory – and most of the pattern will be ridden at a trot.

Here are some of the movements you may encounter in the pattern

  • Turn down line in parallel.  If two riders are approach 'A' from 'F' and 'K' respectively, each rider will turn just before 'A' so the horses come down the centreline side by side.
  • Turn down line in file.  As above, except the predetermined lead rider will reach 'A' first, and turn before the second rider, who will fall into line behind the lead.
  • Cross school in opposition.  Riders approach each other from opposite sides of the school, generally passing each other right shoulder to right shoulder.
  • Circle in opposition.  If riders on opposite reins meet at 'C' they will pass right-to-right and perform a circle at 'C', passing again at 'X'.  The rider on the inner circle will have to slow her horse, while the rider on the outer circle will have to speed up.
  • Turn / Circle in parallel.  In this case, both horses are travelling on the same rein, but the one on the outside of the turn will move faster than the one on the inside.

What we're looking for

As you complete these manouevres we'll be looking for the following:

  • Are the horses' chests even with each other when they are supposed to be in parallel?
  • Does the following rider keep a steady 1-2 horse space between her horse and the leader?
  • Does the leader execute the figures at the correct time and place?
  • When crossing in opposition, do the riders meet where they should?
  • Do the riders go smoothly into file or parallel without colliding or crossing paths?

Tips for a smoother team ride

  • Always keep an eye on your partner.  Without turning your head, keep track of your partner out of the corner of your eye.  This lets you know whether you will need to adjust your horse's pace to match your partner's.
  • Know your horse. Is your horse quick or sluggish as compared to your partner's?  In general, it's the responsibility of the faster rider to slow the pace of the slower horse.  However, if your horse is the slow one, be aware that you'll need to use extra leg so your partner doesn't have to walk, or worse, stop.
  • Plan ahead.  Agree with your partner who will take what role in each part.  If you have a speedy horse, choose the outside turns and circles.  If your horse has a hard time keeping up with the other, be the leader so you can set the pace.

Riding is already a team effort that requires communication between horse and rider.  Adding another two minds to the mix is a fun and rewarding challenge!

This brings us to the end of the Riding Level 4 material!  Next up, we'll start looking at the weapons skills for Red Cord.

Winter Riding

Classes are almost over for 2017!  There are just three weeks left of Riding, Horsemanship, and Mounted Combat Fundamentals classes and just two weeks left of Mounted Combat Mastery.  There are drop in spaces available at all levels, so if you feel the urge to squeeze in a class, contact the front desk.

Our final Playday for the year will be held on Sunday, December 10th, from 1pm - 3pm, with a holiday party to finish it off.  Mark your calendars to come out and join the fun!

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.