Napoleonic

Three regiments of the Napoleonic period are represented, two of which are British (3rd/King’s Own Dragoons [heavy cavalry] and 18th Light Dragoons/Hussars [light cavalry]) and one of which is French (1st Chasseurs à Cheval). The 3rd Dragoons are of the Peninsular War period. The 18th Light Dragoons and the 1st Chasseurs à Cheval encompass the period from the Peninsular War through to Waterloo.

All uniforms and saddlery is of a very high standard, much of which has been made by John and Celia Norris of Solent Saddlery/The Cavalry Workshop.

We have a gallery showing some of skills we demonstrate together with a selection of our costumes, click here to have a look

Medieval Period

Medieval Equestrian Skill-at-Arms
In the Medieval period, jousting tournaments were held not only for sport and entertainment but also to keep horses and men trained and ready for war. The tournaments involved not only jousting but also exercises that do not involve the use of armour.

Sussex Yeomanry as a Group tries to give a flavour and feeling for the type of exercises that Medieval men on horseback took part in which involved the use of the quintain, lances, swords and daggers.

Hunting was also good training for war and some of the Group’s demonstrations are based on the horse and weapons-handling skills needed for hunting.

 

We have a gallery showing some of skills we demonstrate together with a selection of our costumes.

Competitions

Horse shows played an important part of regular and yeomanry cavalry life. Sussex Yeomanry competitions, when held, will be open to any horse and rider combination with a suitable level of expertise/experience. The competitions will be run over a period of two days and will include a variety of disciplines from standard and from cavalry-based skill-at-arms competitions.

Rules for the combined competition are to be found below:
Competition Course Layout Rules – December 2014
Competition Method – December 2014
Competition General Rules – December 2014
Competition Rules for Marking – October 2016
BCA SLR COURSE Detail – June 2014
SAA and Equestrian Skills Competition (German based) – Lance
SAA and Equestrian Skills Competition (GermanBased) – Sword And Pistol

See some pictures of our members and horses competing

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

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

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

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