Pas de Deux: Spring Coronation 2023 Equestrian Challenge

by Epy Pengelly, Armiger (they/them)

A couple courting and hawking, from the Maastricht Hours, Netherlands (Liège), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe MS 17, f. 243r,

At Unevent 2022, the Atlantian equestrian marshals discussed how to bring more spectators to equestrian, make it more participatory for audiences, and how to generally work on outreach. After the meeting, an idea was sprung by someone of “Why don’t we do a Pas de Deux challenge at Spring Coronation?” Now, a Pas de Deux is a pairs riding competition, wherein the two people ride a pattern on their equines set to music. This sort of competition is somewhat common in the modern dressage world, especially at the higher level shows and for demonstrations at publicity events. This would be ideal competition for working on community outreach since it can be pleasurable to watch, and incorporates more SCA members by including judges and generally more hub-bub than a typical equestrian games challenge course. 

In equestrian in the SCA, for basically every challenge at every event, the marshal has to come up with their own unique scoring system and rules for challenges. For this Pas de Deux challenge Doña Zarra de la Vega (EqMIC of Coronation) and I developed the scoring system and rules set, with some input from Magistra Beatriz Aluares de la Oya (for the A&S sections) and Dame Elisenda de Luna. The scoring of the challenge is mainly weighted in the riding portions (the difficulty of the pattern and how well it was executed by the riders), with some weight in the music selection and outfit selection of horse and rider (A&S). While the scoring sheet as well as resource sheet was made public at the end of 2022, Zarra and I also had an online discussion “Path to Pas de Deux Success” in mid-January to answer any questions about the scoring, discuss strategies and considerations in the planning processes, and other such sundries. 

In preparation for the Pas de Deux, many teams met up to determine their riding pattern, their outfits, and their music. Sometimes this meant even walking around on the ground to think about their pattern, or using toy horses on a table! While each team individually managed themselves for how often they met up together and what their goals were, it was common to hear teams talking about practicing alone at home, working with the music, and talking about sewing challenges they faced. Luckily each person had a partner to rely on!

At Spring Coronation, we had three pairs of riders participate in the Pas de Deux Challenge. Lady Katharine Ravenshill riding Spidicus and Epy Pengelly, Armiger riding Libby went first. The pair chose late 16th century England as their theme, and the humans and horses wore stylistically similar outfits in brown and blue, respectively. The music they rode to was “The Pavan and Galliard of Albarti” composed by Innocentio Alberti and performed by Epy Pengelly, Armiger.

Lord William de Hirst on Taliesen and Dame Elisenda de Luna riding Dulce chose a 12th century theme. They chose to ride to “Sumer is acumen” performed by Broceliande and “A l’entrada del temps clar” by Ensemble Fur Fruhe musik Ausburg. Elisenda and William and their horses wore coordinating outfits chosen from the “Crusader Bible” found at The Morgan Library.

THL Arielle de Pontoise rode her trusty steed, Bingo, while Freherrina Margreta Gyllenstierna led Dulce in partnership. “Amoroso” performed by YouTuber mj1008 was their music, while they wore matching, dashing blue and white 16th century German reitrock. Their horses were decked in matching Atlantian blue and white Spike-themed outfits.

The set of judges for the competition were Sir Tnek the Ainissestor, Mistress Nem Inghean Dochartaigh, Mistress Tanis of Tir-y-don, and Mistress Evelynne Merrymet. While all of them are familiar with horses, Doña Zarra de la Vega helped them assess the riding pairs. The Minister of the Lists for the competition was Herrin Clara Hutmacher. The winners of the competition were Lady Katharine Ravenshill and Epy Pengelly, Armiger.

While the live performance may be complete, video of the rides were taken and will be published later. There are also murmurings of having an online competition for those pairs who were unable to participate or restaging the competition at a later event this year. 

The next event with planned Equestrian activities in Atlantia will be Storvik Novice and Unbelt Tournament on June 2-4, 2023. To learn more about the Equestrian in the SCA, check out this short 30 minute video by Epy: Newcomers and Novices: What are they doing with those horses? If you are interested in learning more about Atlantia’s Equestrian program and regional practices, you can join the Atlantian Equestrian (Cavalry) Facebook group, join the Atlantian Equestrian Google Groups email list by contacting Liz Churchill (Zarra de la Vega), and check out the Cavalry webpage for documents and resources. You can learn more about the author – including links to their documentation for the Pas de Deux– by checking out their SCA Wikipedia Page.

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