Safety and Riding Etiquette for the Current Middle Ages "He who strykythe a horse shol have noo prize." -Sir John Tiptoff, Earl of Worchester, in his late 15th Century treatise on tourney score-keeping. Here follow a few conventions to help all of us ride more safely... 1) Never disturb a horse or it's tack without the permission of it's owner, unless a dire emergency is at hand. 2) Keep in mind that virtually all horses will kick and/or bite, so stay clear of the front and back of unfamiliar ones. 3) Know the area in which you intend to ride, walking it over beforehand, if at all possible (It is to be assumed that a proper tourney field has been checked for gross hazards, but it's a good idea to check anyway. Someone may have dropped a piece of armor, equipment, etc.). 4) Never attempt a game for which you are unprepared or which is too advanced for your riding skills. If in doubt, don't do it! 5) Always check the security of your saddle girth before riding, making sure the stirrup lengths are correct as well. 6) When a marshal calls HOLD!, come to a halt as quickly as you safely can. 7) Always listen to the marshal and groundcrew, doing what they direct you to do without argument. 8) Should you find it necessary to drop a weapon, hold it out horizontally to your direct of motion and let it go. Always notify the marshal and groundcrew, telling them what you dropped and where. 9) Never lower your lance in the presence of other riders. It should only be lowered when you are running at a target, and must be raised immediately after that target is passed in order to avoid censure by the marshals. 10) Should your mount become unmanageable during a game or an activity, decline the pass/course. Any responsible marshal will appreciate your regard for safety and permit you another chance later, if at all possible. 11) Never engage in live steel or heavy weapons combat of any sort; certain choreographed routines may merit consideration for special permission, but submit it to your marshal first! 12) Have respect for the tourney field and arena; never dismount on the field, and do not ride there unless you are engaged in a game or have permission. And now, let's look at just plain minding our manners... 1) Again, unless you've permission, leave horses and their tack alone. This particularly applies to feeding them, especially when they have a bit in their mouth. 2) DO NOT use vocal signals to direct your mount when riding in a group or when engaged in a busy arena. 3) Never ride in a public or trafficked area at a gait faster than a walk. 4) Always brush down your horse when you're through riding. 5) When riding in a group, wait until the last person is mounted before taking off. 6) Remember that persons on foot have the right-of-way, and that horses coming up hill have right-of-way over those coming down hill. 7) To pass a slower rider, slow to their gait and ask permission to pass, then slowly speed back up (Don't kick up mud or dust!) 8) If you open a gate, be sure to close it once you're through. 9) To bow in the saddle; press the free hand to the brow or breast, bowing the head forward as one drops one's shoulders. 10) Remember that the condition of your equipment tells a great deal about your attitude. Keep it and your horse fit and clean. These are by no means the only courtesy and safety rules, but they are a basis to begin learning from. The Kingdom in which you ride will doubtless have some traditions and customs of it's own. Take the time to learn what they are, and to obey them.