How to Get Started
Welcome to the fast-paced world of tentpegging!
If you're searching for an equestrian sport that combines skill, nerve, speed, accuracy and sportsmanship, then look no further. Our horses love the thrill of galloping unhindered and most take to the weapons and drills after a few training sessions.
Any size and shape of horse can be used in competition: In current competition, we have mounts ranging from a 13.2hh mounted games pony to an 18 hand Shire cross - and everything in between. Speed is vital in competition as riders are timed on the pegging run and must meet the optimum time in order to avoid scoring penalties, however when learning, skill can come first and speed later!
Anyone interested in trying tentpegging for the first time should contact the BTA in the first instance, who will put you in touch with a BTA-registered instructor in your area. You will need to become a member of the BTA to participate so that you are covered under insurance.
The weapons we use are just that - sharp weapons which can cause serious injury, or worse, if used incorrectly. By attending a recognised training event, you will be able to use approved weapons and learn the correct drills on foot before attempting them on horseback.
Most of our competitors have their own horses however there are sometimes a small number of hire horses available for experienced riders to train and compete on, at the riders' expense. Your coach will have details of the closest hirer to you, if any.
If you are keen to train your own horse, it is recommended that you acclimatise them before your first training session:
Practise riding single-handed, with the reins in your left hand. You should be confident to ride with one hand at full gallop and be able to stop at the end of the pegging run single-handed.
Get your horse used to you carrying a lance by making a dummy lance out of a broomstick or thick doweling. Lances should be rested on the riders' right foot with the 'point' end skywards in the 'carry' position when not in use. Start with a schooling whip, pass it slowly around the head, then get closer and go quicker. Once your horse is happy with this, go on to the broom handle and do the same again. Stay calm: the idea is to make the horse think that the pole means nothing, it’s not going to hurt it and it’s not an accelerator!
Get your horse used to you having your weight in the right stirrup and leaning down. You should be able to touch you right toe! Get the horse used to remaining straight with this change of balance.
Get your horse used to gunshots by downloading a sound effects app and playing this quietly; although you would normally learn SLR once a practiced tentpegger.
Make sure your horse is not scared of the white pegs on the ground - practise riding past these in a straight line at walk then increase the speed as they become more confident.
Always ensure that the tip of your lance is pointing skywards!
Find out more about each tentpegging discipline:
Defence Animal Centre, Leics
Mercian Meteors Midsummer Melee
Competition - Towcester NN12 6LQ
August (dates tbc)
The UK's Governing Body for Mounted Skill at Arms