Using the sword hand

Last week I talked about freeing the sword hand by using the reins in one hand.  This week we’ll deal with what to do with that free hand as we 

12. Safely carry and move a long object (dressage or buggy whip, flag, sword etc) at the walk and trot

The purpose of this part of the test is not to see whether you can use a sword from horseback — we don’t ask you to do that until you’re ready to test for your Blue Spur.  We just want to make sure you can carry a long object without hitting or spooking your horse, while maintaining a balanced seat and control of the reins. 

It sounds dead simple, and most people do pass this part, but there are a few pitfalls.  These include

  • leaning in the saddle to compensate for the weight or length of the object
  • startling the horse by moving an object suddenly past his face
  • allowing the object to touch the horse
  • losing control of pace and direction through lack of attention (ie, while worrying more about what’s in your sword hand than where your horse is going or what your rein hand is doing)

The most comfortable way to carry a sword is in vera croce, or the guard of the ‘true cross’.  In this guard the flat of the sword rests on the opposite forearm, near the elbow.


A spear or lance, however, can also be carried either beside the horse with the tip pointing down,  or vertically, sometimes with a stirrup rest.  Both of these positions avoid the horse’s face and field of vision.


And of course as you get skilled at mounted games you’ll get better at picking up and moving all sorts of weapon-like objects at greater and greater speeds …

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