Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, June 26, 2009


When we planned out this year's practices for the equestrians, there were many contingencies we had to account for. And the schedule that we ended up with, to some respect and with the benefit of hindsight... now makes me wonder just what we were thinking!

Working with the guild head from last year, we had some ambitious plans. We wanted to host a collegium - a much more detailed practice that would encompass two full days of mounted and unmounted sessions. We had an interesting variety of topics and instructors lined up.

And then... we tried to select a weekend we could conduct it. Ohh boy. Long story short, the ONLY weekend all year long that our facilities were available for a whole weekend, and that the instructors were available, was early April. So we jumped on it, thinking how nice it would be to cover some skills in depth and then have the rest of the year to build upon what we learned.

The SCA Corporate office carries insurance for all local branches. When someone plans an event, they must notify the corporate office and get their event added to the insurance policy. This applies to practices as well - except that there is an interesting loophole in that you can name any number of practice dates during the year and have those listed on the same insurance rider / same insurance fee.

Any dates at all - except for consecutive dates. I guess if you want to practice two days in a row, they insist on thinking of that as an event, which means those two days require their own insurance certificate and fee.

This was, unfortunately, a rule we didn't understand until just before submitting our list of practice dates. This meant we had to decide whether to scrap collegium, turn it into a one-day thing, or cough up the extra $100 for that one event. We decided to cough up the cash.

And then... the crazy weather of 2009 hit us and nearly every weekend activity was cancelled from mid March into May. Yeowza. There is no rain date provision in the insurance policies - so now we were out the $100 without any practice fees to offset it. :-(

So, as an alternative, we decided to select a regular practice date, extend it to be one full day, and attempt to cover half of the topics originally planned. We picked last weekend to do this -- and it was a tremendous success!

We had 11 riders and 10 horses arrive before 9, tack up, warm up, and we were ready to start our initial session shortly after 10. We did a lot of brand new activities.

We tried our hands at some Roman Drills - drill work that the Roman cavalry used to train their mounted warriors. It sure is a whole new riding experience when you have to not only complete your maneuvers but stay synchronized with 7 other riders at the same time. That, combined with some dedicated horsemanship work (on leg yields specifically) meant that I worked harder on my riding than I've had to for a long time.

We also set up a spear target -- a foam sheet fronting some hay bales leaning on the fence. Jordan was such a goof head. On our first pass it was clear he was nervous about the strange looking target. So I abandoned our 'run' and just turned him back to approach it and let him sniff it. Sniff he did - the classic "I'm very afraid of that thing" stance, with his nose poking as far out from his body as he could get. Then... he takes a big mouthful of hay and pulled the target over. Later, Ginger had a lesson of 4 really young kids scheduled during our lunch break. We'd just pulled most of our equipment to the center of the arena so she had room to work around it. Except that the bales of hay proved to be the class's destruction as the horses only wanted to stand around and eat it! We jumped up and carried it out for her.

Over lunch we gathered for a discussion about Mounted Crest Combat and Jousting, and their requirements for equipment and armoring. Frankly, I was worried that we'd discussed this so many times it was going to be a dud discussion. Much to the contrary, it was a lively discussion and we had samples of some helms, shields and lances for show and tell. So it ended up being very useful.

After lunch we set up our tilt (the barrier between jousters), and a new piece of equipment that Garin and I had constructed the week before: a double quintain.

This double-targeted quintain allows riders to approach from either direction, each aiming for their own target. First one to the middle of the run, AND accurate enough to hit the target, 'wins'. As no one's lance crosses over the tilt, we find this to be a really good stepping stone on the way to actual jousting. (For which we aren't authorized to attempt yet)

Jordan and me and our SCA approved joust lance comprised of a 28" table leg, then 5' cardboard tube, then 2' of light saber. Heh. The end piece really doesn't glow, but sure looks like it in this photo. It's a section of pool noodle - light enough to mimic the desired styrofoam, but flexible so that it doesn't shatter anytime you touch anything with it. I ended up taking only a couple of runs using this lance -- the tip was so flexible it bounced as we ran long, and hitting the target it just collapsed in half. We all were laughing so hard I couldn't keep riding with it.

In all, much merriment was had. So many new things were going on we never had a chance to get terribly competitive, but that really made for much of the success of the day I thought. As you can see from the pictures, it was quite cloudy that day - but it kept the temperatures down and didn't start to rain until just as folks were leaving, so we had no complaints about the weather!

As it was, we had scheduled to ride as late as 5:30, but by 4:00 we were all pooped! Two long riding sessions in one day was pretty much too much - we shuddered to think about trying to get up and do this again a second day in a row. So in the end, it was probably a good thing that our original plans had been cancelled as we probably would not have enjoyed trying to go as long and as hard as we thought we could.

But we do look forward to playing with that double quintain more.



Post a Comment

<< Home