Display Information

Sussex Yeomanry is developing the sport of mounted skill-at-arms with a view to demonstrating the type of disciplines that could have been used for the purpose of developing the equestrian skills of the cavalry.

Several disciplines may be included in our demonstrations. An illustrative list (which is not exhaustive as it is constantly being developed) is set out below.

  1. Tentpegging. This is the best known discipline which involves removing a three inch wide tentpeg from the ground with a sword or lance. Displays may include a number of variations of this such as, e.g.:-
    • Individual pegging – riders running independently of each other.
    • Half Section – two riders running as a pair
    • Section – three or four riders running together as a team, picking up either ordinary pegs or streamers (pegs with ribbons attached)
    • Indian File – three or four riders running one behind the other picking up pegs in quick succession.
  2. Rings on Cabbages. Riders independently ride past (at the speed of canter) and take a ring from each of two cabbages, with a sword.
  3. Cabbages. Riders independently ride past (at the speed of canter) – and cut – each of two cabbages, with a sword.
  4. Jump (x 2) and Upright Dummies. Riders jump the first fence, ‘attack’ a dummy on the right (with a sword), jump the second fence and ‘attack’ a dummy on the left, leaving the sword in the dummy.
  5. Jump (x 2) and Balloons. Riders a) jump the first fence and simultaneously burst a balloon to the right (with a bayonet or pricker), b) burst a balloon to the right mid-way between the two jumps and c) jump the second fence and simultaneously burst a balloon to the left.
  6. Jump (x 2) and Dummies on the Ground. Riders jump each of two fences and ‘attack’ a dummy on the ground (with a lance) that is immediately behind each jump.
  7. Jump, Dummy on the Ground, Jump, Peg. Riders a) jump the first fence and ‘attack’ a dummy on the ground (with a lance) that is immediately behind the jump, b) jump the second fence and c) take a peg that is placed in the ground at a set distance after the jump.
  8. Dummies on the Ground. Riders ‘attack’ each of four dummies on the ground (with a lance) – the first with the butt to the right, the second with the butt to the left, the third with the tip to the right and the fourth with the tip to the left.

The exact format of each display will depend on the size and condition of the arena that is to be used.

Sussex Yeomanry in Association with the Royal Logistic Corps Coaching Board is available to put on a display that is entitled “Horses in War”. For general information about this display please follow this link, RLC and Sussex Yeomanry Horses in War Display Detail

Sussex Yeomanry is actively looking for potential venues within the UK, both as part of the Horses in War display referred to above and as stand alone displays, to demonstrate the cavalry skills of its members.

For further information please Contact Us

Tentpegging/Mounted Skill-at-Arms

Tentpegging has nothing to do with Boy Scouts or leaky tents!!

It is hard to say exactly where the sport of tentpegging originated. If we look at knights in the Middle Ages they frequently used suspended rings to help improve their accuracy. A man in armour is well protected except for a few weak spots – hence the need to be accurate with a lance or a sword.

In the UK it is generally felt that the sport was imported in roughly its present form by the British Army from India – in a similar way to the sport of polo. When Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 B.C. he had lancers with him.

Stories are told that his mounted soldiers would ride out of the sun at dawn removing with their lances the pegs that held their enemy’s tents to the ground. Foot soldiers would then follow to ‘mop up’ the entangled enemy. Other stories are told that his lancers would engage enemy elephants and try to ‘peg’ their toes. The infuriated and agonised beasts would then turn on their own army! Both of these stories seem to be the sort of tall stories that an ‘old soldier’ may well tell a young one on April 1 !

Leaving the above aside, it is fairly safe to say that the sport of tentpegging owes its origins to the North West Frontier of India and was used as a way of training horse and rider. It also made use of equipment that was to hand, i.e. tentpegs, and – in the case of sword dummies – sand bags.

Like many other sporting disciplines – be they equestrian or otherwise – it has evolved from the games and exercises practiced by generations of cavalrymen to hone the skills necessary to fight the enemy.

In the countries where this sport is still practiced there has developed considerable national individualism as to the detail of the rules and the style of execution. A standard set of rules for International competitions helps with the judging. It also enables countries to compete on a more even footing with each other.

National identity is a good thing – the world would be a greyer place without it! Rules in Great Britain are based on those used by our cavalry and would probably be recognised by any long past cavalryman, no matter in which far-flung outpost of the Empire he saw service

What has changed is that tentpegging is now purely a sport that is open not only to the military but to everyone.

Tentpegging/Mounted skill-at-arms is a sport in which the whole family – from grandchildren to grandparents – can take part. A cavalryman had to look after his horse well, if only because, at the end of the day, his life depended upon it – it also depended on his skill. Today, competitors have to apply themselves in the same way as was done in the past – the difference however being that their own and the horse’s life no longer depends on the outcome of their training!

Mounted Skill at Arms is a fun, fast and exciting sport, where riders are expected to hit a variety of targets with, e.g., a lance or sword – at speed. As potentially lethal weapons are used, the safety of horse and rider is a high priority and correct drill and training is vital to ensure that no injuries are caused.

Like many equestrian sports, Mounted Skill-at-Arms has its origins in the military. In recent years however interest in (and funding for) the sport within the military has waned. It has however become increasingly popular with civilians and is popular in an increasing number of countries such as, e.g., South Africa, Australia, India, Pakistan, Holland, Germany, Israel, UK and USA.

The weapons that are used are potentially dangerous. Therefore, before riders are introduced to weapons, an assessment of their general riding skills must be carried out. After that has been done, disciplined instruction needs to be given in the handling of the weapons – at first on foot and then on horseback.

There are several disciplines involved in basic SAA competitions, of which the best known is tentpegging. This involves removing a three inch, 2 inch or 1 inch wide tentpeg from the ground with a sword or lance. It may sound easy but it has to be done at the gallop, so the rider has to be able to think fast and aim faster!

Other disciplines in basic SAA competitions involve taking rings (with a lance or a sword) or slicing oranges (with a sword) [all suspended from gallows at head height], penetrating straw dummies (with a sword) and/or bursting balloons (with a revolver or what is known as a pricker) while jumping small fences. In competition, points are awarded for accuracy, style and pace. Different disciplines are involved in cavalry-based SAA competitions

The Sussex Yeomanry Prior to WW1 (1908-1914)

The Sussex Yeomanry can trace its origins right back to the Napoleonic Wars and the threat of French invasion – as can many other Yeomanry Regiments. In this Group, we are particularly interested in the years leading up to WW1 (1908-1914).

The regiment was formed on the creation of the Territorial Force in April 1908. It was headquartered at Church Street in Brighton, with the squadrons being headquartered as shown below:-

  • A Squadron : Brighton (with drill stations at Horsham, Worthing, Haywards Heath and Crawley)
  • B Squadron : Lewes (Burgess Hill, Eridge, Brighton, Uckfield, Tunbridge Wells)
  • C Squadron : Chichester (Bognor)
  • D Squadron : Eastbourne (St. Leonarads, Bexhill and Rye)

In 1910 Sussex Yeomanry formed part of the UK’s Territorial Mounted Force. Along with the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, West Kent (Queen’s Own) and Surrey Yeomanry they formed the South Eastern Mounted Brigade.

Like the majority of the Yeomanry Regiments, the Sussex was raised and trained as cavalry but never fought on horseback. At the outbreak of war they were stationed at Canterbury with the rest of the South Eastern Mounted Brigade. The Regiment agreed to serve abroad and was sent as dismounted infantry to Gallipoli (1915) and Egypt (1916). They were then sent to Palestine and France as infantry with the 230 th Brigade of the 7 th (Yeomanry) Division (1917).

In 1910 Sussex Yeomanry were issued with plain khaki service dress, worn with brown leather Stohwasser gaiters, plain khaki cap and a 50-round leather 1903 cartridge bandolier. Their Stohwasser gaiters were soon superseded by puttees. For walking-out and parade there was a blue uniform with shoulder chains. The forage cap had a yellow band and piping in the crown seam. The overalls had a yellow stripe down the outside of the leg.

Some Yeomanry units still used the 1899 cavalry sword in 1910. These swords were gradually replaced by the 1908 cavalry thrusting sword.

1899 British Cavalry Sabre1899 Cavalry Sword

1908 British Cavalry Thrusting Sabre with Scabbard1908 Cavalry Sword

The rifle that was used was the short rifle, magazine, Lee-Enfield, Mark III.

Short Rifle Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk3 and Bayonet

Members of The Sussex Yeomanry did not use the lance but our Group does use this weapon for displays.

Only officers and RSMs carried a revolver. However, our Group does make use of revolvers in displays.


Rosco is a 21 year old registered British Spotted Pony. He is a 14:1hh white and spotted gelding. He is a true saint of a pony, and has helped many children take their first competitive steps in Pony Club competitions.

He was introduced to Skill at Arms in 2014 when he first took part in the Battle Proms season. In 2015 he took part in an International Cavalry Skills competition in Germany and again took part in displays at Battle Proms concerts.  He has a calm temperament which means that he adapts very easily to whatever he has been asked to do.

Rosco is also broken to harness and was longlisted as a carriage pony for the British team with a disabled driver earlier in his career.

Rosco also takes part in Napoleonic battle re-enactments and attended the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium in 2015. Rosco loves eating and has to be on a careful diet to ensure he doesn’t get too fat.

See more of Rosco in his gallery


Bugsy, owned by Helen, is a 18 year old registered Irish Draught Grey Gelding. Sired by Grosvenor Lad, he was brought to the UK from Ireland as a foal. At 16:3hh he is big for skill at arms, but in fact the Irish Draught was a breed that evolved to service the requirements of the British Army.

In 1914 the Irish Draught specification for a horse to be accepted into the studbook, required the horse to be able to take a soldier and all his field kit, ridden hard all day, Including at gallop. Roughly this meant being able to carry 21st all day.

Bugsy was new to skill at arms and had his first season being ridden at the Battle Proms in 2014 but he has been ridden at battle re-enactments and attended Waterloo in 2015. Bugsy has also had a very successful competition career – as an event horse, in affiliated dressage competitions and endurance rides.


Percy, owned by Helen, is a 9 year old ‘blue and white’ Irish Cob gelding. He is 15.1hh and came to the UK as a 4 year old. He is relatively inexperienced at skill at arms, but is very brave, and has taken part in a number of Napoleonic and first world war battle re-enactments.
He took part in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in June 2015 in Belgium. He was also in Belgium in 2014 as part of the commemorations of the Battle of Mons and the outbreak of the first world war. Percy’s international travels in May 2015 took in Germany where he took part in an International Cavalry Skills competition.

Through the summer he regularly takes part in the Battle Proms concerts here in the UK. And the rest of his time is spent hunting, team chasing, eventing and doing dressage. He is a very versatile little chap, who loves play and food, but hates being washed and kept clean.

See Percy’s gallery


Oscar is owned by John Dudeney, is a 16.2hh, 19-year-old chestnut gelding Gelderlander. He was bought as a 4-year-old from that well-known Irish dealer based in Sussex – Donal Barnwell.

In his early years, Oscar was a BHS novice eventer. He was not a classic event horse but his long strides and big bold jump made up for that!

When John’s daughter went to university, Oscar was introduced to Mounted Skill-at-Arms. This he took to very well – despite his size. He has taken part in numerous International SAA competitions in the UK and Holland. In the Spring of 2015 he will be going to Germany to take part in the German Cavalry Championships in Gotha.

Oscar has also taken part in Skill-at-Arms demonstrations and the musical ride at Battle Proms concerts for many years under the umbrella of Crown & Empire.

In general, Oscar is a very gentle horse. However, he is not keen on being clipped, having his teeth done – or camels! He is very fond of carrots, apples and having his back rubbed!

See Oscar’s gallery


Rudi is owned by Joyce Dudeney, is a 16hh, 9-year-old grey Andalusian mare. She was bought as a 2-year-old from the Gazaro Stud and has proved to be a high-spirited challenge!

Rudi was backed by Joyce – with help from her husband John. Joyce is the only person ever to have ridden her – save for one occasion when, due to an unfortunate accident, Rudi slipped, fell onto Joyce and had to be ridden home by someone else.

When she was backed, Rudi could see absolutely no point in going forwards – at any pace! With much patience, love and gritted teeth however she has proved that she knows exactly what speed is all about and is a joy to own and ride.

Skill-at-Arms is a sport that Rudi had to be taught slowly but now thoroughly enjoys. Indeed, in 2013 she won the first club competition that she ever entered all classes for and she proved to be unflappable when first introduced to Battle Proms concerts in 2014 – with crowds in attendance that numbered in their thousands.

She is intelligent, inquisitive, mostly brave, sometimes frustrating, loving, opinionated and elegant in her movement – she also loves her food and anyone who cares to feed her carrots and/or apples!

See some of Rudi’s photos


…owned by John Dudeney, is a 15.2hh, 10-year-old black gelding bred in Germany for polo. However he never played polo and started his training late in life.

Picasso has taken part in some SAA competitions in this country and Holland.

Size-wise Picasso is well suited to SAA. He is fleet of foot, agile and brave. His temperament is that of a thoroughbred and as a youngster he had a hard start to life. Consequently he has needed to be brought on slowly – he is an easy horse to handle, likes people and food. He is also good to shoe, clip, box and catch. His best friend is Oscar!

See Picasso’s gallery



owned by Joyce Dudeney, is a 15.2hh, 18-year-old dark bay Andalusian/Connemara mare. Like Oscar, she was bought as a 4-year-old from the well-known Irish dealer based in Sussex – Donal Barnwell.

Willow’s full name is Wilful Willow – a name that she truly lives up to when taking part in Mounted Skill-at-Arms displays and competitions! To say that she is excitable is an understatement and speed is certainly not a problem for her!

Willow has taken part in numerous International SAA competitions in the UK and Holland. She has also taken part in Skill-at-Arms demonstrations and the musical ride at Battle Proms concerts for many years under the umbrella of Crown & Empire, at which events she has accompanied Oscar and acted as his ‘comfort blanket’ and dancing partner!

In general, Willow is a very gentle horse who has an excellent stable manner. She loves her food (carrots and mints in particular) and loves to be loved. On occasion, when being admired by members of the public at Battle Proms concerts over the years, she has almost fallen asleep.

Some of Willow’s photos