It may be winter, but the Æthelmearc Equestrians have not been idle. On March 2, as part of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands’ demo which was conducted at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, the equestrians of Æthelmearc set up and displayed the tools of their trade. The Coordinator for the equestrian portion of the demo was Isabel Johnston who organized the various portions of the display. She and her husband, Tomas, also constructed several clever devices to facilitate displaying various components of the display and creating a fun and inter-active game for participants.
Tomas solved one of the difficult questions that faces equestrian artisans when trying to properly display “barding” or “caparisons” which are used to cover and decorate the horse. These historical “garments” had a variety of uses and functions in period. Because most A&S type events are not conducive to bringing in a horse to model the barding, it is difficult for the artisans to display these items to full effect. Tomas came up with a portable and life sized “dummy” to display a set of Mistress Gozen’s full barding which completely covers the horse from head to —- hoof.
The other interesting creation of Tomas was a mock horse that moved. Constructed of a wooden saddle rack and securely mounted on a sturdy wooded platform with wheels, this device was outfitted with saddle, bridle and barding complete with bells. Attendees to the Science Center’s Over 21 Event were treated to an opportunity to mount the “horse” armed with a sword, and attack a series of mounted heads while being pulled through our mock tourney field. This replicated a popular game on the SCA equestrian tourney field commonly called “Behead the Enemy.” This activity was extremely well received, with a constant stream of participants most who waited patiently in line for several minutes for an opportunity to “take a few swings.” Participants included SCA demo participants as well as the young and quite elderly visitors to the Center. Several of the equestrians worked hard in this area of the display including Isabel, Lady Rowena Macara, Lady Leah of the Debatable Lands, and Jackie Caulkins, one of our newest equestrians. They pulled the attendees through the course on the “horse.” Spouses and friends took many candid photographs in this area.
Besides this fun activity, attendees were treated to a display of arts and sciences by Mistress Gozen including a display of barding types in miniature as well as a display of the items needed in a tournament by a mounted rider. This included a medieval styled saddle, bridle, full barding, banners, surcoat and helmet mantle. Lady Gesa set up a display of jousting equipment. Participants were very fascinated by all these period recreations and asked many good questions.
The evening was an excellent opportunity to introduce these people to the wonderful world that is the SCA. Some folks came in garb, some wearing things from their cosplay experiences while others said they had the clothes from prior Halloween costumes. The Science Center allowed the SCA to display various crafts and activities on all the floors of their Center. On the Lower floor, where the equestrians were located, there was also heavy fighting and a local Steel Sword Fighting organization. All the areas were well attended and appreciated by the attendees. We, the equestrians of Æthelmearc were grateful to the Center and the Barony, especially Lady Zianna who coordinated the entire project, for the opportunity to bring our craft to the populace of Pittsburgh!
Article written by Mistress Gozen and the photographs were taken by Baron Friderich Swartzwalder and Isabel Johnston.
The Center’s official press release about the demo can be found here.