Using the sword hand

Last week I talked about freeing the sword hand by using the reins in one hand.  This week we'll deal with what to do with that free hand as we 

12. Safely carry and move a long object (dressage or buggy whip, flag, sword etc) at the walk and trot

The purpose of this part of the test is not to see whether you can use a sword from horseback – we don't ask you to do that until you're ready to test for your Blue Spur.  We just want to make sure you can carry a long object without hitting or spooking your horse, while maintaining a balanced seat and control of the reins.

It sounds dead simple, and most people do pass this part, but there are a few pitfalls.  These include

  • leaning in the saddle to compensate for the weight or length of the object
  • startling the horse by moving an object suddenly past his face
  • allowing the object to touch the horse
  • losing control of pace and direction through lack of attention (ie, while worrying more about what's in your sword hand than where your horse is going or what your rein hand is doing)

vera croceThe most comfortable way to carry a sword is in vera croce, or the guard of the 'true cross'.  In this guard the flat of the sword rests on the opposite forearm, near the elbow.

A spear or llanceance, however, can also be carried either beside the horse with the tip pointing down,  or vertically, sometimes with a stirrup rest.  Both of these positions avoid the horse's face and field of vision.

And of course as you get skilled at mounted games you'll get better at picking up and moving all sorts of weapon-like objects at greater and greater speeds ...

5 flag 1


Cavaliere Classes

This Sunday is the second of our new format Cavaliere Class, combining riding, horsemanship and sword drills in a single afternoon.  The class is almost full, but there are a couple of spaces left, and it's not too late to start the series now.

Horsemanship topics this week include:

Level 1: Grooming, tacking up, parts of saddle & bridle
Level 2: Grooming, care, cleaning, and assembly of saddle & bridle
Level 3: Full grooming kit, snaffle bits, care of leather & signs of wear
Level 4: Complete practical grooming, leverage bits, fitting & storing tack
Level 5: Complete grooming, trimming & pulling mane & tail, care of feet

Riding will cover

Level 1: Rising trot & changes of rein across diagonal
Level 2: 20m circles, canter transitions, stirrupless work
Level 3: Serpentines, trotting poles, cross-rails
Level 4: Deepening seat, half-halts for balancing, gymnastics
Level 5: Strenthening forward trot, turns on the forehand,simple changes, small fences

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.