Swords and steeds: Richmond hosts mounted combat symposium

The Carosella Mounted Combat Symposium — think sword-fighting on horses — takes place this weekend in Richmond.

Organizers say attendees can fulfill their dreams of becoming a knight

Kate Landels, an assistant instructor at Academie Duello, demonstrates her sword skills while on horseback. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

Calling all ye knights! Richmond is hosting a mounted combat symposium this weekend and even beginners can try their hand at swordplay while riding a horse.

The symposium, organized by the swordplay school Academie Duello, takes place from September 9 - 11 at the Red Colt Equestrian Farm Co-op in Richmond. It includes two days of clinics and workshops followed by the annual Knightly Games Tournament.

CBC producer Catherine Rolfsen spoke (and crossed swords) with Jennifer Landels, one of the creators of the mounted combat program at Academie Duello.

Landels explained that participants are trained to move and fight like they would in a medieval battle.

CBC's Catherine Rolfsen takes a swing at swordfighting with instructor Jennifer Landels. (CBC)

The swords are blunted,"but in all other ways, it's a genuine replica of what they would have used in the Middle Ages".

Vancouver on the cutting edge for swordplay

Horses were extensively used in combat and warfare during the Middle Ages, particularly by cavalry knights. But Landels says the popularity of mounted combat and swordplay in Vancouver today could be due to popular fantasy films and television shows like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

"Vancouver seems to have more historical swordplay than anywhere else. It's just highly concentrated with lots of practitioners," Landels said.

Landels was always interested in horses and riding, and became interested in doing more mounted combat. She approached Devon Boorman from the Academie Duello for a possible collaboration.

"'I have horses, you have swords  — maybe we should put them together,'" she said she told Boorman, and the mounted combat program was launched in 2010.

Currently, it is the only school in the world that teaches mounted combat, but Landels has been approached by other schools in Europe to help develop similar programs.

"It's kind of like us taking the art back into the old world."

Kate Landels, an assistant instructor at Academie Duello, demonstrates a training move on her horse. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

With files from The Early Edition


To hear the segment, click on the link labelled Mount your steeds and ready your battle axes! Richmond hosts a mounted combat symposium