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The Vikings cavalry is organised by Sharon McCann and Laura Finch

 Some of the cavalry as part of Hastings 2016

The most recent incarnation of The Vikings cavalry have been meeting and training since 2012. Training sessions happen roughly once a month in the off season and whenever we feel like having one in the rest of the year. Training is undertaken at the trainees’ own expense and usually equates to the cost of hiring the mount for the weekend. We have used the mounted unit a few times now at events, but due to the limited knowledge of the use of horses in warfare at the time, opportunities for shows are not plentiful. However, we train the skills we believe are relevant and sometimes we do get to use them. These include formation drill, battlefield maneuvres, shield wall charges, equitation and skill at arms, melee fighting and missile target practice. All actions from horseback, be it acting, posing at a parley or one-on-one fighting are taught and trained with a large element of ‘show’. Combat from a horse is rarely competitive, but designed to create a spectacle and look impressive. Strikes and blows are delivered and received in an exaggerated way, to add to the effect of lethality it is not safe to perform. This cooperation between foot soldier and mounted warrior is something we are working on heavily at the moment. We train in kit to get used to the way mail and shields interfere with weight and balance, and to become accustomed to riding in turnshoes. It is necessary to have a fair amount of riding ability to begin with, as the techniques are often beyond the capabilities of very novice riders, relying heavily on the seat, core and legs to influence the horse and relying on the hands very little. This is to leave the hands free to hold equipment and weapons while still being able to communicate the aids effectively to the horse. All of our riders are encouraged to ride and take instruction in their own time as much as possible.

 Harewood Show 2013

 Harewood Show again 

Harewood house was our first outing as a unit. Since then we have gone from strength to strength and have more qualified riders.

   Stamford bridge1.jpg
    cavalry demonstration at the Battle of Stamford Bridge 2016
    Stamford bridge2.jpg
    Battle of Stamford Bridge 2016
     Training with the unit. playing war games at Vaetfeng 2015

Playing a character who is important enough to be on a horse obviously implies a level of status which is to be reflected in the kit the rider is wearing and using. Although it is possible to be involved as a rider in non-combat situations, such as parading and acting, anyone wishing to take part in weapons demos or combat is required to have a level of competency with a spear and sidearm. Basic combat and basic spear are minimum requirements. Competency in combat from a horse does not happen overnight; meeting the required standard takes a lot of time and effort and commitment to training, but the rewards speak for themselves.

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