Latest riding pastime has its roots in medieval times
A STABLES in Lelant Downs is offering people the chance to step back in time and try their hand at some medieval pastimes.
Old Mill Stables has expanded from its usual riding sessions to become the only training centre in the South West to offer the ancient sport of horseback archery.
Using a bow and arrow on horseback, which was an essential skill for hunting for centuries, has slowly been making a comeback in the equestrian world.
Oisin Curtis, 27, an instructor at Old Mill Stables, is self-trained in the pastime and is a member of the GB horseback archery team.
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This summer Oisin started lessons at the stables as a way of bringing the sport to a younger generation.
"It's just something that is completely different. If you like a bit of an adrenaline rush you won't get one similar to galloping down a track and hitting a target. It's quite addictive and great fun," he said.
"Archery and horse riding are both seen as dangerous sports. Everything has to be risk assessed but it's as safe as it physically can be."
Horseback archery involves galloping down a 90m track without reins and shooting arrows at up to three targets within a time limit of 14 seconds.
Despite being a hard skill to master, requiring good upper body strength, Oisin believes that horseback archery is a sport that anyone can try out.
From a young age Oisin had an interest in medieval sports and spent time performing jousting displays in Devon, before turning his hand to archery 18 months ago.
He developed a flair for what he calls the "most friendly sport" and has been supported by Old Mill Stables proprietors Lou and Nick Ridge to become a fully qualified instructor.
During the summer Oisin attended several shows to talk about the history of the sport and training methods before giving short demonstrations.
"A lot of people said to me they didn't realise how fast it was. A lot of it is getting the right rhythm. As long as you can keep that you can hit targets. It's a good feeling of accomplishment, especially if you do hit the target," he said.
Oisin recently travelled to the Centre of Horseback Combat in Hemel Hempstead to take part in the UK's first international competition against Sweden and hopes to have success at the national championships.
Currently Oisin is teaching six young people, but he hopes to encourage others to try it out, with the aim of having enough students to hold a small competition at the stables next summer.
Full training is available at Old Mill Stables where there is a limited number of placements left.
For more details call 01736 753045.