To preface, I’m a big ole nerd. I love anything having to do with ancient warfare, epic fantasy, and magic; like books, movies, and shows such as Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones, The Chronicles of Narnia, Princess Bride, Xena: Warrior Princess, and the list goes on. I honestly think these genres of books shaped the types of activities I did growing up. Swordplay? I was a competitive fencer for quite a few years. Archery? Did 2 quarters of it in college. Horseback riding? Well, obviously.
So, when I came across Mounted Archery it was pretty much a no brainer for me. Riding horses while shooting bow and arrow? Uhhh….YES. So much awesome.
I also might have a slight obsession with Legolas. Just sayin…the man is a sexy badass.
Anyway, I found a mounted archery club called California Centaurs in my area and asked if they gave lessons. They got back to me saying that they did give lessons and after I told them about my riding skill level we set up a lesson time. Now that Andy is a pretty competent rider, he got to join in the fun too.
Having come from a solid riding background, I was able to progress pretty quickly during the lesson. They had both Andy and I start out with some lunge line work to see how comfortable we were riding without reins and if we were able to two point and twist around. Our instructor Hilary told us that mounted archery is mainly done in a deeper half seat in comparison to a jump 2 point; slightly longer stirrups and more of a crouch to bring the center of balance lower. She also introduced an archers training aid so we wouldn’t have to deal with the bulk of a bow right away.
We practiced with the training aid the 3 basic mounted archery shots:
1. Forward: Which is about 45 degrees off your horse’s shoulder
3. Back: Same as the forward shot, but angling 45 degrees behind.
Once we had a good feel with getting into a half seat and practicing all the different shots we proceeded onto the “runway” as I’d like to call it.
From here, we started by riding down the runway at a trot with our reins dropped to get a feel for the track and then progressed to practicing the 3 different shots while trotting. Maintaining your balance while in half seat and pulling a bow was a bit tricky, but by the 2nd time around it got easier. I’m so glad I had the riding part sorted out because I didn’t really have to worry about that part. Hilary said that some people come in with no experience in either sport so it can take them a long time to get to where we were on our 1st lesson. For the last 2 runs of the day, we got to canter while getting off shots. The little MorganXConnemara I was riding had been trying to canter all day so she was happy when I let her go. Of course, this is worthless without video so here you are!
Afterwards, I got to practice on my archery on the ground and on their wooden horse for a bit, hopefully in preparation for the next lesson I take. The archery aspect will def be the hardest part to get good at, but I think it would be easier than learning how to ride!
I think Spot would be a great mounted archery horse since she’s use to things flying around her head from polo, so hopefully once she’s sound (fingers crossed) I can work on desensitizing her to arrows and such.
So, along with taking jump lessons, and continuing to work on my dressage, I’ll add some mounted archery to the mix to keep everything exciting and fresh.
And lastly, if anyone is in the Northern California area and you’re interested in trying Mounted Archery I highly recommend you contact California Centaurs!