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Fwd: Heads game - how tall? - It's origins and intent

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  • bulotki@netscape.net
    meant for the group... ... From: henrikofhavn To: WestKingdomEQ-owner@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thu, Oct 15, 2009 2:21 pm Subject: Re:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 2009
      meant for the group...

      -----Original Message-----
      From: henrikofhavn <henriksd5@...>
      To: WestKingdomEQ-owner@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thu, Oct 15, 2009 2:21 pm
      Subject: Re: Heads game - how tall? - It's origins and intent

      The Heads course originated here in The West Kingdom , back in the mid 1970's 
      when the West Kingdom College of Equesteian Arts ( as we called ourselves back 
      then) was a member of The California State Horsemen's Association.  I had just 
      been appointed Kingdom Minister of Equestrian Artes (the first time) and we had 
      joined CSHA to obtain liability insurance protection ( since the SCA didn't have 
      anything like an insurance policy of any sort, back then) and I received a copy 
      of the CSHA membership booklet. In looking through the rules and descriptions of 
      their official games, I had in mind to try to adapt any that seemed fun or 
      challenging to our members without seeming obviously out of period. The pole 
      bending competition, listed there, was an obvious one that I selected to modify 
      to include a target on the top of the  poles to engage, as the rider passed by. 
      This became the original standard for the heads course. Six "heads atop six 
      poles at 21 feet intervals, to be run for the speediest time while first going 
      straight down the course, bending around the far head and hitting them all in 
      succession while bending through the line, turning at the end and bending back 
      through the  line and turning once again at the far end and running straight 
      back to the finish line, all for time. 
      The object was to make it simulate a possible period training exercise and yet 
      be an easy to standardize course, that any horsemen could set up where there was 
      room for a polebending course. It was also intended to be a course that was 
      familiar to non SCA horsemen so they could better understand the similarities in 
      what we do and so be more likely to want to join in our activities. 
      There has never been found any documentation, that I know of, that supports any 
      historical training exercise precisely like this, however I suspect historically 
      mounted riders did practice riding past targets with weapons and strike them in 
      some fashion in the process. Certainly ring spearing and quintain striking are 
      documented and are variations o this sort of exercise in general.
      The theory behind this particular exercise was to provide a line of simulated 
      warriors who were to be "killed" by decapitation as the rider rode past them, 
      while controlling the path and speed of the horse at the same time, to allow 
      effective form and contact to be accomplished in the process.
      The only course requirements that applied to scoring were speed maintenance, 
      course pattern adherance, and target contact. However the construction of the 
      heads and their attachment to the poles and the method of pole installation on 
      the course, have all been left up to the individual facility organizers. This 
      unfortunately has fostered an attitude of light and easy as opposed to strong 
      and realistic, with the consequent abandonment of a distinct martial style, by 
      most riders.
      As Corwyn says, the form of striking the heads should be as if they were really 
      being attacked with real weapons ( sword or mace), with accurate and forceful 
      blows that would really damage real heads on real people. The blows that are 
      taps, pokes or with the flat of a bladed weapon , may knock a foam head off a 
      magnet or velcro purchase, but they would do little to endanger a real person 
      and should be avoided. Unfortunately the current rules that are usually applied 
      to scoring this game don't address that issue, and in my opinion they should.
      The height that the heads are set has always been intended to be "head height" 
      of a standing "warrior". Historically this would be in the 5 to 6 foot tall 
      range. 5 and 1/2 feet is a good compromise. 
      In the early years before styrofoam head forms were common I used plastic gallon 
      bottles filled with a few inches of sand or water to give weight in blowing 
      windy conditions. We also used sewn cloth heads stuffed with scrap fabric, to 
      give weight as well. 
      Now that ballistic gel is available , it would be interesting to make realistic 
      simulations mounted on realisticly functioning supports and attack them with 
      real sharp weapons. The same sort of thing could be done with realistically 
      weighted rubber heads and rattan combat weapons, for a more realistic 
      competition course. But if something like either was to be done, the safety of 
      the horse being ridden would have to be ensured - particularly from accidental 
      over shooting of swung blows or dropped weapons, that might end up hitting the 
      horse and causing real damage or injury to it ( or the rider ), tack, or others 
      Henrik of Havn
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