Renaissance Horses

I’ve always been a bit horse crazy, and since I no longer work with them (BOO!) I soak up every moment I get to watch them in action.  In the past few years Hanlon-Lees Action Theater (the company that provides knights, squires and horses to pretty much every Ren Faire in the country) has worked with Laura Amandis as the horse trainer for the Bristol horses (not sure about the other horses around the country).  The end result is pretty much every horse you see the knights riding at Bristol Faire don’t use bits and Laura puts on a fairly nifty show twice a day with her personal horse, a grey Andalusian named Acierto.    Needless to say, I get a little shutter happy during this show, sometimes with rather hilarious results.


We’ll start the beginning, here we have a “collected” canter.  Not dressage ring worthy from my limited knowledge of dressage, but pretty flashy.  Of course, the audience doesn’t get it.

Next, Acierto has been learning to do a Passage.  This is the first time I’ve seen him do it and he’s a little bumpy in comparison to oh, say, an internationally competing horse, but again he is still damn impressive.  And again, the audience doesn’t get it.

Now things get interesting, Laura pulls his bridle off and they proceed to do a lap of the area at a cantering half pass!  Horse geeky me is cheering them on, the audience just sees a pretty horsie running.

Now for the at liberty portion.  Acierto performs at a working trot, extended trot, working canter, somewhat sloppy pirouette, backs up, backs in a circle and follows Laura’s every cue with only visual cues.  There is no bridle, no saddle, not a stitch on this horse.   What gets the audience’s applause?

Yup, rearing.  Nowhere near as impressive if you know what you’re seeing, but flashy.  My favorite shot of him rearing is when he coming up, before he is in full flex, just because the amount of power involved in this position is much more demanding than once they are all the way up.  I’m crossing my fingers that Laura will teach him a pesade or levade to demonstrate the true power, intelligence and control this horse has.

While Andalusians aren’t my favorite horses one thing I love about this fellow is his expressive face.

Oh yes, and did I mention unintented hilarious results?   As they were doing the cantering half pass I just put my camera in drive mode and shot like crazy as they came down the fence line towards me.  This photo is totally uncropped and had me laughing for the rest of the day.  Who am I kidding, I’m still laughing!

5 responses

  1. lifewith4cats

    nice shots alll of these. And the funny one too. I can relate.. I have one pet peave about when people see parrots.. all they ever ask and care about is the phrase, “Can he talk?” I mean, who cares! Birds are beautiful and interesting personalities all by themselves. But most people only notice the talking bird.

    Hes a hard working horse.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:06 am

  2. I’m with you on the parrots too! I try to recognize that different people have different interests, and if I’m at a car show all I know is if I think the car looks attractive, I could really care less. But the thing is, I don’t go to car shows.

    It would really be nice if they explained what Laura and Acierto are doing, so the not-horsey people could walk away with a better appreciation for the horse and trainer as well as a greater understanding of horsemanship. This is a huge part of the reason I never get bored with the falconry show; he explains what he is doing, why he is doing it, how the birds are trained and what role in ecology the birds play. Not only to I get to see them fly and demonstrate their hunting skills, I am educated in the process of being entertained. Does this make me weird?

    September 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    • lifewith4cats

      not a bit! I envy those people who work with animals and get to demonstrate while teaching others about the natural world. But I am sure there are those in the audience who do see and appreciate the finer points of horsemanship. Falconry sounds so exciting. Field and stream magazine once ran an article about hunting beagles and falconry… it said that people who do both at the same time have observed that the hawk and dogs will communicate with each other and coordinate completely on their own initiative. Isnt that cool?

      Of all horse related things I think I like conformation competitions the best.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm

  3. SIGH These shots are excellent and for me they evoked nostalgia as I was a horse trainer and riding coach for years until an driving accident caused by a drunk driver changed my life forever. The head injury I suffered as well as other injuries meant that horse training and riding and coaching were no longer paths that I could follow. Time passed and my last two horses were laid to rest. However, the horse remains my favorite animal and I do communicate with horses owned by others frequently.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    • So sorry to hear you cannot work with horses anymore! Some days I feel as if part of me is cut off, I miss them so much.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

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