Getting Started with Horses in the SCA

As this year’s Siege of Glengary is resurrecting equestrian activities, a common question is, “how do I play?” The answer is as varied as SCAdians’ interests and skills! Folks of any experience level can participate in ways that are both fun and safe.

If you have NO experience with horses, begin a journey that can last a lifetime (beware though, horses are EXTREMELY addictive!) Go online, hit the library, find a local mentor in the SCA or your mundane world who can teach you about horses and horsemanship.

Horses are large animals whose evolutionary success was based on fleeing or fighting predators (humans included!) Some modern horses have not gotten much beyond that! Even the most placid horse can bite or kick violently in an instant if startled. Learn to handle and ride horses safely BEFORE you attempt to do it in garb and with weapons.

Here are some suggestions to get the most enjoyment out of equestrian activities at Siege:

  • Read the rulebook to understand the games we are playing and the historical roots we honor.
  • Willingly sign the equestrian waiver. It is an SCA wide requirement and a mundane fact of life.
  • Help set up the tourney field before the event, and breakdown when the event is over. You’ll meet lots of horse people that way and earn their enduring gratitude!
  • Respect any posted signs or verbal suggestions or warnings— equestrians are not elitists, they are obsessed with their mounts’ well-being and YOUR safety.
  • Take lots of photos (ask all horsemen before using a flash though—some horses can react dangerously to the sudden light explosion.)
  • Consider a horsey theme for your personal passion: create an equestrian-based entry for the Arts and Sciences display, help sew a caparison (full cloth covering for horses) or learn the Horse’s Bransle if you love dancing.
  • Ask lots of questions- horse people LOVE talking about their passion!

If you know how to ride but do not have a horse, consider asking private owners about sharing a mount. Bear in mind, horses are priceless companions and valuable investments. Most people would not consider asking to borrow someone else’s spouse, or the ’69 Stingray they lovingly restored. In addition, horses have individual personalities, quirks, and pet peeves which may not mesh with your own.    Do not take it personally if an owner say no!  They are not being selfish, they are simply looking out for both you and their horse.

If they say yes, be grateful for the generosity! Expect to

  • share or cover expenses, or pay a fee similar to what a wrangler would charge.
  • sign a waiver holding the owner harmless in case of incident or accident.
  • Practice beforehand to solidify your skills and communication with the horse
  • help with the horse before, during, and after the event

If you don’t have access to a horse, you can still participate. The games require a horse-savvy ground crew to reset props, hand off weapons, and keep things going on the field. Horse people ALWAYS appreciate extra hands both in the lists and in the stable area.

While many events team up with local stables to offer rental horses, there are no rental horses at Siege.

If you know how to ride and have access to a horse (this includes folks from the previous paragraph who have secured a steed), prepare, prepare, prepare!

  • If you are not authorized, find out if authorizations will be conducted at the event. If not, get in touch with an equestrian marshall or your KEO to find out if there are alternate possibilities. We will have some authorizations at Siege, check the websites for more details.
  • Think about everything your horse needs to be able to do and practice it at home. Practice the skills required for the games, then the games themselves. Acclimate them to their barding (horsey garb) and to seeing other horses in barding. Expose them to the mayhem of heavy fighting, general event ruckus, and crazy people in garb. Make sure they load and travel willingly in a trailer. Check the accommodations provided and make sure your horse will be comfortable and safe- he may need to tie (without breaking away or getting upset), high line, stall (this can be tough for pasture dwelling ponies) or stay within a small temporary pen. The event is NOT the time to train them! A solid foundation will ensure a fun day on the playing field.
  • Research and satisfy mundane requirements. Most events, including Siege, require a negative Coggins certificate for all horses, and a health certificate for out-of-state equines.

The equestrians of Sylvan Glen began preparations as soon as the site was approved. As Siege looms closer, we continue to weave unofficial practices and project days into people’s crazy schedules. Watch the yahoogroup for updates, and come join the fun!


Aethelmearc Equestrian Site:

Destrier Today! warhorse news and link library

Sylvan Glen yahoogroup:

This entry was posted in SCA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.