Of late, I have starting to think that perhaps I have set my sights too low when it comes to Orion. By this I mean I have always maintained that all I needed or wanted from him was a horse I could ride into mock combat and be competitive in the medieval games we take part in. In this Orion has more than excelled and we have had great success together. But as time has gone by, I have come to realize that these games, as they are usually set up, really don’t challenge Orion’s potential nor do then push me to be a better rider.
You see the mounted gaming activities I have taken part in so far are usually set up without any sort of “classes”, meaning they are for any horse or rider of any level of training. Because of this, they don’t require any particular set of skills beyond the basic ability of riding a horse close enough to a target to hit it. Adding the speed component does make this more interesting, but just riding the simple courses faster is not really what I am looking for.
In the last year or so I have started looking into a sport called Working Equitation. This sport combines working dressage, obstacles, speed and cow working as it is done in some European countries. I was impressed by the combination of skills required of the horse and rider. This is a truly challenging sport and came to realize that while Orion has excelled at the medieval games I have taken part in, he would barely qualify to participate in Working Equitation competitions as they are held in Europe.
Now my personal interest is still in training Orion as a warhorse and I am don’t intend to travel as far as I would have to if I wanted take up this new sport. That being said, I am interested in taking inspiration from it and trying to implement a greater level of challenge in the medieval games I do.
What I have in mind might be called “Medieval Martial Equitation” (Thank you David for coining the name). Combining many of the martial elements of the gaming we do now, rings, quintain, heads, reeds, etc., with elements that challenge the maneuverability of the horse and the connection of horse and rider. I can even see a “Civilian Equitation” course that takes the current “Palfrey Courses” and raises the level of the challenges and adds a speed component. Perhaps a “Hunting Equitation” course as well.
Essentially what I am saying here is that I want to raise the bar a bit. Lift expectations and goals to get people thinking of riding their horses at a higher level.
For Orion and I this is to be our direction. To this end I have refined my training methods towards these goals. So far he has gamely accepted the new challenges, but for perhaps the first time since I began his training, we have to work to achieve what we wish to achieve. Proof I think that I have been underestimating him all along.
Time will tell.