Fortunately, our road trip was uneventful if long. Both Paddy and Taran are great haulers, and drank and ate plenty during the 18 hour haul.
Crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois at dawn.
Stopping somewhere along the way.
The fairgrounds at Danville have excellent facilities - we'd managed to snag two double stalls for the boys (with stall mats!) so they had plenty of room to move around, which was good because turnout was limited to about 30 minutes per day.
What I thought would be a relaxing week turned out to be super hectic, but SO MUCH FUN.
I taught a class on dressage in the 16th century. I know that sounds weird so let me explain. In the early 1500s in Italy, riding began to evolve from being solely a method of transportation or for warfare to being an art form. Noblemen began to show off their riding skills in elaborate performances. There are even chapters in riding manuals from that time entitled "How to Ride Before a Prince" which lays out exactly what you are supposed to show off your horse to a prince or other noble person...
"... you shall put your Horse gently forth into a comely trot. Being come against the Person of state, bow your body down to the crest of your Horse, then raising your self again, pass half a score yards beyond him..." (Markham, 1593)In modern terms: A enter working trot, X halt, salute. Proceed working trot...
There are tons of woodcuts from 16th century riding manuals too, which show exercises that are suspiciously similar to a lot of the things many of us use in everyday riding:
Spiral in, spiral out. (Corte, 1573)
Turn on the forehand. (Fiaschi, 1556)
I could go on and on about this because I think it's super cool, but the upshot was that a bunch of people put together performances "for a Prince," using exercises and patterns shown in 16th century riding manuals. Basically they got to create a DIY 16th century dressage test and perform it. People got SUPER into it - here's a pic of everyone standing around the table with all the copies of 16th century riding manuals I'd brought, picking out the patterns they were going to ride:
I had so many people - most of who were not dressage riders and were in fact intimidated by "Dressage" - tell me how much fun they had, and how they wanted to go home and do more research and put together more performances and ride them. So I'm super stoked that folks will pick this up and run with it, and I can't wait to see other people's performances!
Here's me and Taran in our 16th century Ride Before a Prince outfit. Taran was a superstar and made me look like I knew what I was doing.
It's hard to see in this pic, but this was one of the highlights of the week. I'm cantering a circle around a guy playing bagpipes... in perfect tempo with our canter. It was like riding a freestyle with your very own band that mimics every movement with the music. SO EPIC, I wanted to keep riding forever.
But, on to jousting. Reader's digest version: Paddy and hubby were ON FIRE and won.
Hubby gets help with his armor.
Hubby and I (photo by Tannis Baldwin)
Paddy in Hover Haffie mode (photo by Tannis Baldwin)
Paddy also rocked the mounted combat, and they ended up second.
We managed to get a little trail riding in too, although every time we went out, Paddy would be mobbed by adoring fans.
Because let's face it, everyone in the entire world is part of Paddy's adoring fan club.
CobJockey also happened to make it out for the event, not once but twice. I'm afraid we may have gone a little overboard (I mean, how often do you put a taxidermy bison head in someone's bed?) introducing her to the crazy, but the steak and scotch probably made things a little better.
Alas, this is the only picture that exists to prove she was there dressed in weird medieval clothes.
Side saddle is rather less fun than I thought it would be, although I now have even more respect for people who can actually do this well.
Someone even managed to take a decent "family" picture of us:
Well, decent except for the part where Taran forgot to say "cheese." I swear.
And of course, the ONE TIME I ride without a helmet for FIVE minutes, someone took a picture of that too:
He did get the posing down in this one though!
We had a great time hanging out with old friends and meeting new, and the whole thing rekindled my interest in research on 16th century dressage. So you might be seeing some posts about that from time to time... along with more stories of The Jousting Haffieeeee!