Mounted Archery Equitation is a term created by the Ridgeline Mounted Archers to define the training, horsemanship and athleticism involved in the foundations of mounted archery. Mounted Archery Equitation(MAE) has multiple levels of horsemanship that give a strong foundation for both horse and rider. MAE is built on the principle that mounted archery is a team sport and your horse is an equal contributor to success.
MAE was developed because of the high level of training and horsemanship needed to safely and effectively participate in mounted archery. Mounted Archery is its own unique discipline. Mounted Archery includes shortened stirrups, multiple seat positions, and reinless riding. Archery horses must have the ability to be self directed, maintain consistent gaits, ride reinless off of leg pressure, jump 50 cm, and canter a minimum of fifteen miles an hour. As such, archery horses require a high level of training to be able to safely complete challenging open field tracks.
Mounted Archery centers around the horse.
Imagine a round target with five zones. This target represents the elements of mounted archery. At the center we have the horse. Their needs, wants and training. Ethical treatment of the horse is the most important element. Horses should always be physically and mentally prepared to perform horseback archery. This includes being well desensitized to equipment, and prepared to ride from leg pressure.
The second zone of our target is the partnership. Far too often in mounted archery the partnership is forgotten and set aside for archers to use borrowed horses at events. While this is often necessary, more care should be taken to allow archers and horses to create rapport and partnership before competition.
The third zone is the horses training. Horses should follow the basic levels of dressage to be best prepared for mounted archery. A horse should have rhythm, relaxation, contact (here, more emphasized on acceptance of the aids) to be able to safely participate.
The fourth zone is communication. This is where the archer must be an effective equestrian with good position, balance, aids, and an understanding of mounted archery form such as ability to turn in the saddle, raise into half seat, two point, turn for a Quebec shot, and ride 50 cm jumps. The archer must be able to ride well before beginning to shoot with their equine partner.
The fifth zone is archery. Archery is the outermost ring of MAE. Without the horse at the center, safe horse archery cannot exist. The archer is responsible for practicing and becoming adept at archery only after they have centered around their horse, created partnership, trained and prepared their equine partner well, and learned to communicate effectively.