Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The saddle for varied uses and equestrian martial arts

     The equestrian arts have been with civilized man for millennia. It is not only the royal arte, but has b out the nobility in many. We can mock the froufrou effeteness of modern dressage, but must remember that it has its roots in the battlefield. To the useless nouveau-riche who have turned many off to the art of the horse, we can only turn aside and look the other way. These people seek acceptance which stems from the roots planted by every tinpot dictator history has ever foisted upon the human race. They should be ashamed of themselves, but let God judge, and not us. If it brings them happiness and harms us not, to each his own.

What remains of the monarchy is simply an extension of this bourgeous approach to life. If they have the money they live like playboys, if not they wish they could. Few have the learning or martial skills which have been indicative of the concept of nobility for centuries. Ones Nobility comes from Divinity; and so a humble shepherd was made King.

Power has its corrupting tendencies, but discipline helps to save one from being corrupted absolutely. Hence the necessity of the Equestrian discipline. 

     There are many Martial forms to be practiced upon the horse. Often vanity has ruled those who take an interest in the horse, but the shear discipline tends to sober the flightiest of souls. To list some of the many Martial arts upon the horse there are; Lance, Spear, Archery, the Joust, the Sword, the Gun, Pegging, and their various uses and applications. You can land a spear into a target and then draw sword and run a course practicing 'lobbing off heads', then take a lance and practice upon the quintain and next draw your bow from your side and follow a triple course of targets at a gallop loosing as many arrows into each target as is possible. The art is meant to be applied and developed to your own needs, skillset, and mind for fun.

     The art takes time to develop, but is dependent mostly upon self discipline. It is essential to be comfortable in the saddle. If it is not fun though, why do it? We find that things which are developmental can be fun as well. Those who seek to achieve usually enjoy what they are doing. If you do not have disciplines you follow, you will tend to do little in life. Generally the rule is, if you are not your own master, it is probable that someone else will be. Discipline builds skills, and capability awards one with decisiveness. This grants us the will to power; that is the ability and wish to succeed.

     The problem with modern society is that all achievement is measured in money, instead of in prowess, and why mediocrity is setting in. If we are to fight well in the saddle then we must be comfortable in the saddle. It is often best to start with conventional training on the horse, that is dressage, hunt seat equitation, that which grants the skill to stay in the saddle and control a horse. Yet more, it is to learn to develop a relationship with your horse. They are sentient beings. They must become comfortable with you, and the arts you practice.
     If your horse believes in you, you can trust in your horse. They too must become familiar with what it is you are doing.
     A horse must become comfortable with the gear you are using. For after all he is using it too. Adjustments to saddle and pad along with cinch make some difference to the horse, as does hearing an arrow loosed, or a gun shot. The horse must be exposed to this on the ground. After they are accustomed then you can mount and being to practice firing. Guns are the hardest for a horse, as is someone charging at you with a lance or hitting you with a sword.
If you are to tilt, then practice with the quintain first. After the horse is accustomed to hearing it hit, and knowing it is you doing the hitting, he will find it less taxing when you go against another rider. They are very observant. They have little else to do. Do not berate your horses intelligence.

     Surprisingly enough the horse adapts to most tasks. This is fortunate for us. We must not forget that this is in their genes. The horse has been used in combat for over 2000 years. If you fight regularly your horse will become accustomed to it, and even enjoy it. Horses know how to provoke their opponent, and can be an aid to throwing off balance the other rider and to scaring the other horse into avoidance behavior.

An interesting read.

      The movements of dressage were for use with the sword, dagger or mace in close combat. The 'dance' moves create a constant movement. You do not want your horse locking up. To be fluid he must be in constant motion. People who sit on their horse and swing a sword, are not using their horse and will usually lose. The horse is not an artillery platform. Constant motion is essential in combat.


   As ever, we keep a light seat for most combat on horse. The horse enjoys subtle signals, almost non existent. Making your mount used to staying light on his feet comes with practice and good training. A well trained horse gets the message quickly, and will respond in hand.

      We have seen a paint, an American horse, well trained, who quickly, that is within one afternoon comprehended what was expected of him. He performed beautifully. He was trained to be light on his feet. He ran all courses, jousted, and responded to the sword as if born to it. So breed is not essential. training is.

     Staying off the horses back, a light seat is helpful, especially when going over a jump. It helps with sword, though it is easy to sit into the saddle to relay the signals given by the legs. A good horse will respond well to this, and it is essential. I still try to keep a soft seat if possible. I want my horse to connect to my upper leg though, so I convey the idea of constant motion with my body. Attempting to sit a little lighter allows the idea that we are moving and not to stop and stand while exchanging blows.

     We must be comfortable in the seat. This leads us onto the subject of the saddle itself. Each of us must inevitably choose which saddle is best. For most practical work an all purpose Stubben is good. I do not recommend it for combat though.

There are many other choices. I give you here a selection of saddles to look at,  which can be used for all around combat. I do not suggest modern saddles though there are many which will prove useful.

 This is my favorite for regular use. It has a comfortable seat for a long time in the saddle and grants support for some of the rigorous things you might be doing in it.

     This one is being made today. A more fancy version of the Portuguese saddle. Less practical for combat.

     But what if disaster strikes? I don't believe the Portuguese will add to the pain. You must be comfortable with whatever you use, no matter what anyone tells you.


     As can be seen, the Portuguese can be useful in
many positions.

   It is easy to keep your seat in varied circumstance. For whatever you choose, it seems to be of great assistance.


     The Camargue is another saddle of choice for combat, yet I
do prefer the Portuguese to this.


 I have not tried this one out, but just want one. The Grimsley Dragoon.
 I won't even imagine that this is good for combat, maybe just shooting out  of the saddle. This remains to be seen during practice.

    Here is an example of a
    Medieval saddle.

I don't care for any Asian saddles I've see. They have been conquered peoples for so long, who knows what they actually used. Here are some examples:

     The Japanese

                                                                      The Mongol.

     This is the sword developed by General George Patton Jr. when he was in charge of such affairs. He recommends following the Napoleanic approach, to use it like a spear (head on the left of the horses neck, extended sword on the righting giving little target). If you do the traditional charge with it, that is slash front quick slash back, he says it only has the potential to break bones and might not do much else in the way of damage, often not able to cut through the coat a cavalryman might be wearing. Who can say.
     What we can say is that Equestrian combat is a great discipline, and much fun as well. For me, all time disappears when fighting in the saddle. The best I have learned from the Japanese is to apply the techniques of Ai Ki Do to all combat. When you set yourself up for the ride, visualize the pure clear light flowing through you and your mount, from the heavens above to the center of the Earth. Then Extend this beam to your target (as in the unbendable arm practice.). If shooting keep it between eye and target. If fighting; see the winning blow landed when you visualize through it as it passes from heaven to earth. If you are jumping or charging, see it first, perfect in your minds visualization, with yourself happy after completing it.
                                                See yourself on the other side; the 'Victor'.

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