Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

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Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Dave Long » 22 Jan 2013 19:20

Modern equestrian disciplines, like martial arts, cover a wide range of activities0. In attempting to triangulate1 effective mounted combat equitation (in itself a fairly broad art) from the best practices of modern disciplines, we should ask ourselves how closely the goals and constraints of the modern discipline correspond to those of the cavalry trooper, and weight the data accordingly.

The first question to ask is, "does the discipline require riding?". In cases like vaulting, the answer is obviously no2. A subtler case is cutting, which doesn't carry much weight because it demonstrates the horse's ability as a self-worker: the horse carries a human passenger, and receives penalties if the passenger appears to ride during its work.

The second question is, "is the discipline for show or for go?". We find in some cases that treatises say to do things one way in the school and a different way in a battle. This dichotomy is preserved in modern disciplines: many, such as dressage, are "for show", judged on the riding itself, favoring elegance over effectiveness, whereas others are "for go", judged on the ability to complete a task, where the riding is only a means to that end, favoring effectiveness over elegance.

At this point we have a branch with two different questions: "is there an active antagonist?"3 and "do the riders use their hands for something other than riding?". Barrel racing is an example of a "go" discipline4 with neither an antagonist nor a tool to wield. Tent-pegging has weapons to wield, but no antagonists5. Team penning has antagonists, but no wielding6.

Finally we come to a short list of popular modern disciplines which should weigh heavily in our triangulation: the roping events require using a rope to catch livestock, and disciplines in the horseball/polocrosse/polo family all require manipulating some sort of ball in direct competition against mounted opponents.

[0] just as there exist martial arts for people who neither wish to fight, nor even move with a fighting "intent", there exist horse show classes for people who wish to buy a horse and riding clothes but prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground.
[1] The Great 'Triangulation'
[2] for completeness, rough stock events fall out here, by defining "riding" as a cooperative activity between rider and mount.
[3] with an antagonist, one must not only have the basic movement skills, but also a feel for distance, timing, and a connection with the opponent. without an antagonist, there is no connection, and as the courses are fixed, distance and timing collapse into the same problem.
[4] barrel racing is also an exception to the general pattern that one finds a relatively higher ratio of women in "show" disciplines and a relatively higher ratio of men in "go" disciplines.
[5] tent-pegging also has a show component, but task performance counts for far more than style.
[6] in team penning, use of anything other than the horse's posture to influence the cattle is penalized as hazing or roughing.
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Mearcstapa » 02 May 2013 23:26

I have discovered two groups that practice tentpegging, but does anyone know of any groups (or anyone) who has engaged in the sort of 'mounted singlestick' that can be seen in Victorian illustrations?

As a (bad) polo player, I assume that polo ponies would be the best starting point for anyone interested in such an exercise, given their experience of sticks whizzing past their faces, violent contact and clashing sticks in their immediate vicinity.
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Dave Long » 03 May 2013 17:44

Mearcstapa wrote:... anyone know of ... (... anyone) who has engaged in the sort of 'mounted singlestick' that can be seen in Victorian illustrations?

Guilty as charged, although we use slightly different equipment.
Mearcstapa wrote:As a (bad) polo player, I assume that polo ponies would be the best starting point for anyone interested in such an exercise, given their experience of sticks whizzing past their faces, violent contact and clashing sticks in their immediate vicinity.
That's what we've done; cf the training thread. ('Mounted singlestick' being one of the more suitable activities for giving your string something new to think about when the weather is too inclement for chukkers...)
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Phil C » 03 May 2013 17:50

Mearcstapa wrote:I have discovered two groups that practice tentpegging, but does anyone know of any groups (or anyone) who has engaged in the sort of 'mounted singlestick' that can be seen in Victorian illustrations?

I've done it once or twice- and a version we called "haybagging" if there weren't enough masks about where we used haystuffed bags and swung them about like flails.

The horses were Fell ponies trained and owned by Jeff Burn- lifelong cavalryman and military historian/artist. Unfortunately his stables are somewhat depleted these days so not much opportunity, which is a shame as I had a lovely leather fencing jacket picked out for future games.
--Effete Snob--
"I have a sword to defend my honour. I have a stick to answer those without honour."

http://www.blackboarswordsmanship.co.uk/
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Mearcstapa » 03 May 2013 18:15

Fantastic! Are you unique, or have you heard of anyone else?
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Chiron » 05 May 2013 10:20

If you mean people who do mounted combat than there are several of us spread out around the world, I think Dave might be unique in focusing on single stick sources and I'm pretty sure he's the only one looking at Patton's system. If you're interested we have a facebook group called "horsy HEMA" as a kind of mini-forum to talk about stuff.
nay king, nay quin we willnae be fooled again!
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Mearcstapa » 05 May 2013 16:23

Joined!
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Re: Taxonomy for triangulating mounted combat

Postby Dave Long » 05 Dec 2013 15:42

For the importance of all four criteria: riding, go over show, antagonists, and wielding, see Le Marchant, Rules and Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry, 1796:
Le Marchant (pp 70-71) wrote:It is not merely the ready execution of all the offensive and defensive movements of this system, as practiced under a form of exercise, that will render a person a perfect swordsman. Therefore, in order to become a master of the sword, it will be necessary to apply all its principles, by man opposing man, under certain limitations, in such a way as to call forth every possible exertion of skill in individuals, both in what relates to horsemanship, and the use of the weapon ; for which purpose the drill instructions will extend to the attack and defence ; a mode of practice the best adapted to those situations on actual service, in which soldiers are most likely to be engaged ; as it obliges them to think for themselves, and to act independent of each other ; which on service are, in a body of light troops, inestimable qualities. It likewise has the effect of training the horses to quit the ranks readily, and the dragoons to manage them entirely with one hand ; whereas at present, they generally employ both, unaccustomed as they are to manoeuvre with swords drawn.
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