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Equestrian Fencing - sword fighting on horseback

Equestrian Fencing (L'escrime équestre) is a short-lived sport from the early twentieth century in which participants saber fight while on horseback. It is clearly based on the military skill of combat on horseback.

The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, tried to popularize the sport, co-writing an eight page "Treatise of Equestrian Fencing" in 1906 in which the sport is described. He was not the first to propose the sport, as in 1885 Commander Derué (Le commandant Derué) wrote Nouvelle méthode d'escrime à cheval (New method of fencing on horseback).

Equestrian fencing used a metal saber, heavier than the light saber used in standard fencing. The participants need to be well protected with the arms and legs covered with thick canvas clothing, and a standard fencing face mask is worn. A well-trained horse that responds to leg pressure is also required.

Equestrian FencingEquestrian Fencing

There is also a link to modern day saber fencing. Saber is historically related to fighting in the cavalry, and because it was considered unchivalrous to strike a horse during battle, the same rules were applied to the sport. However, since current fencers don't ride horses, the most logical solution was to only count hits above the waist.

Equestrian FencingEquestrian Fencing demonstration

There is one sport today that combines horse riding and fencing, and it was also a sport linked to Pierre de Coubertin. It's called the modern pentathlon, but the two activities are performed separately (though the horse riding element of modern pentathlon looks like it will be changed).


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