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    Easy Equestrian Equipment

    Ideas and examples for SCA equestrian games equipment

    Uilleam mac Lenna’n (mka Bill Schongar)

    This guide is intended to help folks get up and playing with equestrian equipment and cheaply and easily as possible. While most of the equipment should be SCA-legal, please check your kingdom guidelines before using them at an event.

    The most expensive piece of equipment in this guide (currently) is a quintain. The cheapest is a $2 spear. No power tools are required for basic construction, though they would help and are very useful for some of the optional adjustments shown. You will need a wood saw, a hacksaw and lots of duct tape... but does that really surprise you?

    Future revisions to this guide will include some more advanced equipment as well as some more period equivalents of some pieces of equipment. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, feel free to contact me at tracker@gweep.net.

    Many thanks go to my wife and the equestrians of the East Kingdom for trying out (and breaking) some of my past experiments, as well as folks on the SCA-Equine mailing list who are always happy to share their experiences and suggestions. Some things in here will be old hat to most of these folks, but hopefully there are some new tricks to share as well. If not, I’ll just have to get trickier. : )

    Please don’t reproduce/publish this guide in a newsletter, periodical, on another website or in other such forms without getting permission first. Print as many copies as you’d like, make paper airplanes out of them… but since future revisions will be coming I’d much prefer to make sure people have the most current version and I have some idea how it’s being used. Thanks for your consideration.


    Spears

    Spear I

    Time: 2 minutes
    Cost: $2

    Overview

    A piece of ¾” PVC with a spike nail or steel tent spike wedged into the front end through the miracles of duct tape and friction. A practice-only spear.

    Materials Notes

    • Steel tent spikes are sold in packages of 10, and are 5/16” in diameter.
    • Spike nails are sold individually, and are typically 5/8” in diameter

    Instructions

    1. Wrap duct tape around the bottom 4 inches of the spike until it wedges very firmly into the end of the PVC. You should have to use a hammer or hard surface to make it fit. The end.

    Spear II

    Time: 10 minutes, plus epoxy drying time
    Cost: $4-8

    Overview

    A hardwood dowel with a hole in the end accepts a spike that had its flat end cut off, and is then epoxied in place

    Materials Notes

    • Rake handles and other tool handles often come pre-drilled but are more expensive. They sometimes also come with a metal ferrule at the end, which makes them well worth the cost in terms of strength.

    Instructions

    1. If you need to drill a hole, carefully use a bit the same diameter as your spike and drill a 4-5” straight, centered hole into the end of your dowel. This can be harder than it looks, so take your time and remember you can always drill the other end too. Make sure someone else holds/clamps the dowel, or chaos will result.
    2. Using a hacksaw, cut the flat end off the spike. Cover the bottom 4 inches with epoxy, and insert into the hole. Let dry at least overnight, no matter what the epoxy instructions say.

    Spear III

    Time: 30 minutes, plus epoxy drying time
    Cost: $10-15

    Overview

    A 1” dowel with a slot cut in the end to accept a throwing knife or cheap knife blade. Cord is wrapped around the slot to add strength and improve appearance.

    Materials Notes

    • Throwing knives can be used, but make sure not to use the cheap 1/16” steel ones which bend easily. They’re annoying to have to straighten every time.
    • Atlanta Cutlery sells a cheap “hammer marked” blade for $6 that works well for this. Other options include disassembling an old cheap dagger, etc.
    • Wrapping cord should be mason’s twine or a similar small-diameter twine. There is also a polypropylene twine which won’t ever rot on you.

    Instructions

    1. Cut a 1” wood dowel to your desired length.
    2. Cut a slot the thickness of your blade into the end of the dowel, and as long as the portion of the blade which should be hidden, typically 4-5”. If you do not have power tools, mark a line on the end and sides indicating the center of the slot, and cut just to either side of the line, popping out the middle leftover when done. This makes it much easier to cut, as all sides of the handsaw are encased in wood. If using power tools, do whatever the heck you want.
    3. Test the fit of the blade into the slot, and adjust the slot as necessary. When satisfied with the fit, coat the handle portion of the blade with epoxy and fit in into the slot. Cut a 3’ length of wrapping cord, and tightly wrap around the slot. Tie off the end of the cord, or temporarily tape it in place and use leftover epoxy to coat it.

    Other Spear Options

    • If you’re desperate, electric fence posts throw pretty well.
    • So do large pointy sticks.
    • Spears I and II make good ring lances if you make them regulation length.
    • Only Spears II and III are legal for event use in most kingdoms.
    • Spear points are available through vendors such as Jas. Townsend and Sons as well as Museum Replicas. They can cost anywhere between $30 and $60, but the more expensive ones tend to be extra heavy.
    • Single-point dandelion diggers with long handles make good javelins too, if you happen to find one cheap.


    Targets

    Spear Targets

    Time: 30 minutes (basic), 45 minutes (optional)
    Cost: $12

    Overview

    Hinged plywood A-frame, with a cord to prevent it opening too far and a 2x4 shelf to help support a hay bale.

    Materials Notes

    • Either ½” or ¾” plywood will work, but ¾” is recommended.
    • Large, cheap door hinges work best and cost the least ($2 per, or less)
    • Screws should be as long as the thickness of your plywood, so the points don’t poke through.

    Instructions

    1. Cut the plywood into 2 pieces, each 4’ by 2’.
    2. Screw the hinges onto one end of one piece, letting the hinge knuckles extend over the top. Line the other piece up the same way, and screw the hinges to that piece.
    3. Mark a line 1’ up from the bottom front (non-hinged end, non-hinged face) of the target. Nail the 2’ piece of 2x4 along that line.
    4. Drive a nail into the edge of the front piece (the one with the 2x4), and a matching nail into the edge of the back. Tie a length of cord around both nails to limit how far the A-frame can open (along the ground it should be around 20-24”)
    5. Paint or polyurethane the target, if desired. Both will help preserve it.

    Optional Instructions

    1. Using a curve-cutting saw (sabre saw, coping saw, etc), cut a long, slightly curved notch out of the front and back bottoms. It should be no more than 4” high at the center, and no more than 18” long, leaving 3” on either side to form stubby legs. This will greatly improve stability and the ability of the target to “dig” into terrain.
    2. Mark a 12” circle in the center of the front piece, 3’ up from the bottom. Using a drill to create a pilot hole, use a sabre saw (or similar tool) to cut out the circle. This allows the target to be used for blunt-tipped archery without a hay bale.
    3. Mark 3”w x 8”h rectangles on the front piece, aligned with the center hole. As with the circle, create a pilot hole and cut out these pieces. Sand all edges of the hole thoroughly. Mark matching rectangles on the back piece and repeat cutting and sanding. These function as carrying handles.

    Other Target Options

    • Two or more hay bales stacked with one flat, one at a 45-degree angle.
    • A large “easel holder” (2x4 “A” with a 2x4” shelf and a rear 2x4 in the center to form a tripod), holds hay bale at closer height to mounted participants
    • Feed/Grain bags stuffed with newspaper, foam, and/or baling twine, standing between (and tied to) two electric fenceposts.
    • Large foam insulation sheets

    Swords

    Sword I

    Time: 20 minutes
    Cost: $4

    Overview

    Black plastic golf tube flattened along 4/5 of its length with a 1/8” thick wooden insert to provide extra strength.

    Materials Notes

    • Golf tubes are available through most major sports stores, mainly in spring. Local SCA archers or siege engineers typically have some or know a source.
    • Lattice slats are often available in different widths and thicknesses. If unsure what size to get, take along a 3” section of flattened golf tube and get the piece which fits tightest. Typically you will still need to pad it out, as shown. The advantage is these are pre-cut, so no cutting to width is required.
    • Luan plywood is cheap, but any 1/8” thick wood or plastic can be used. Basswood or pickel barrel strips would other options.

    Instructions

    1. Flatten a golf tube except for 5” at the reinforced end. Cut the tube to the length of your finished sword, and set the leftover bit aside to form the crossguard.
    2. Cut the wood insert. If using narrower stock, cut it 2” shorter than the golf tube and tape 1 ¾” cardboard pieces to parts of the insert. If using wider stock, cut it 6” shorter than the golf tube and round off corners on one end to make it easier to insert. Press the wood into the tube from the flat end until it is all in, then push it 2” more.
    3. Cut the flat end into a sword tip shape.
    4. Cut a slit in the middle of the leftover piece of golf tube. This is the crossguard. Slide the crossguard from the tip of the sword to 4-5” from the handle (reinforced end) of the tube. Tape the crossguard securely to the tube.
    5. Tape the ‘tip’ of the sword with strapping tape, then tape the entire blade with duct tape. Tape the handle with grip tape, including a length of cord to be used for a lanyard. Tape the crossguard with electrical tape, gaffer’s tape, or whatever else you’d like.

    Sword II

    Time: 45 minutes, plus finishing time
    Cost: $5

    Overview

    A pre-cut S4S molding piece provides the body of the sword, and leftover length becomes the crossguard.

    Materials Notes

    • S4S wood slats are found in the molding section of home improvement stores or lumber yards. Various widths and thicknesses are available, 1 5/8” x 7/16” is the minimum that should be used for strength. It is also sold by the foot, so if you only want one sword you can cut a 3’ length at the store.
    • The sword should be finished with stain and/or polyurethane. The cost of these materials is only calculated as the fraction used.

    Instructions

    1. Cut the wood slat to length, approximately 26”. This is the blade. Cut a 5” length from the remaining stock. This is the crossguard.
    2. Mark a horizontal line 5” from what will be the bottom of the blade. This is the handle section. Cut, rasp, or otherwise remove as much material from each edge side of this section as you need until it is a comfortable width for your hand. Typically this is about ¼” from each side. Sand the section smooth when you’re done.
    3. Mark a horizontal line the width of your newly-narrowed handle in the very center of the crossguard. Using a drill and a 3/8” bit, drill holes along this line to start the creation of the slot that fits over the handle. Clean up any excess, and sand/rasp the inside of this slot until it fits tightly when slid up from the bottom of the sword. Round the corners of the crossguard and sand it, then epoxy it in place.
    4. Round the end of the blade into a tip. Then sand the blade to slightly round all edges.
    5. Finish the sword with stain and/or polyurethane, if desired. Allow plenty of time to dry.
    6. Drill a small hole in the base of the handle to accept a lanyard cord, attach a lanyard, then wrap the handle in grip tape.

    Other Sword Options

    • Any short length of material can be used as a basic practice sword, including rattan, 1” wood dowel, etc.
    • You can sand or cut the S4S slat into a diamond-profile sword blade, but do not rout a fuller into the center as this makes it too weak. Use a permanent marker to draw a fuller or blood grooves before finishing.
    • Tai Chi and other wooden practice swords are available through many catalogs, and typically cost between $15 and $20. This is a good option if you want a nice sword without having the time to make it.
    • Wood "wasters" are more expensive (but historically accurate) wooden practice swords used by many combat groups. Two online sources are Hollow Earth Swordworks and Purpleheart Armoury.

    Bucket Bases

    Bucket Base

    Time: 20 minutes + 24 hours cement drying time
    Cost: $6

    Overview

    PVC “hole” embedded in a bucket full of concrete, ring or heads poles slide into hole. Extra sand/water can be added to bucket to increase stability.

    Materials Notes

    • You will (temporarily) need a 3-4’ length of 1” PVC to center the PVC “hole”
    • Cost does not include the whole bag of cement, just the part used.
    • The size of the cement bag may vary. Use as much of the bag as necessary.

    Instructions

    1. Cut 12” length of 1 ¼” PVC, cover the bottom 2 inches with duct tape.
    2. Mix quick-drying cement (Quickcrete, etc) in bucket to a depth of at least 6”.
    3. Insert 12” PVC piece into center of concrete, duct-taped end first.
    4. Slide spare 1” PVC piece into 1 ¼” tube, align until straight. Fix spare piece in place with tape.
    5. Let concrete dry for at least 24 hours. Remove 1” PVC tube.

    Electric Fencepost Base

    Time: 15 minutes
    Cost: $3-6

    Overview

    Fiberglass/plastic electric fence post is trimmed so that 1” PVC slides tightly over it. Spike provides enough holding power in most terrain.

    Materials Notes

    • Fence posts vary in size, and some may be too large. Take a short piece of 1” PVC to help judge if the fence post can be trimmed down to size easily.
    • Posts should be at least 3 ½’ tall
    • Duct tape is used to “pad out” the fence post to get a tight fit.

    Instructions

    1. Using a hacksaw or other plastic-cutting saw, trim any excess projections from the fencepost. Test fit with a short section of 1” PVC.
    2. Add layers of duct tape (or duct-tape-covered padding material) to achieve tight fit if fencepost is too small.

    Other Base Options

    • Wooden poles stuck in hay bales
    • Commercially produced weighted bases (water-filled or other)
    • Different concrete-filled forms (feed buckets, pizza boxes, etc) with PVC hole
    • 4x4s with metal ground stakes

    Rings and Heads

    Ring Stands and Rings

    Time: 1 hour per set (stand and 12 rings)
    Cost: $15

    Overview

    Sections of 1” PVC are joined together to form a “T”. Magnets in holders slide over the arms, and rings made out of fence wire or basket reed have steel washers which attach to the magnets.

    Materials Notes

    • Electric fence wire in either 14 or 18 gauge works fine
    • Basket weaving reed is sold in most craft stores in coils between 10’ and 50’
    • Quarter-sized or larger round magnets are sold in craft stores and will hold up the largest rings.

    Instructions

    1. First, build the "T" support. Cut 1” PVC into a 5’ length, a 3’ length, and two 2’ lengths.
    2. Assemble the PVC into a "T", as shown. For increased strength, you can epoxy the PVC connectors to the 3' PVC piece, and drill nail/screw holes to "pin" the piece together when assembled. Otherwise you should use one layer of duct tape to hold pieces together during use.
    3. Now start the rings. Cut lengths of the ring material as shown in the chart. Each ring is made by wrapping the material 3 times around a form (coffee can, cup, cleaning spray, etc) that is close in size to the desired final diameter, then adjusting the final size to be exact. Once the size is right, wrap the entire ring in duct tape.
    4. Cut 3” long x 1” wide pieces of duct tape to attach the washers to the rings. Make a “U” with the tape, where the ring hangs from the bottom and the washer is sandwiched between the upper portion of the U.
    5. Cut a 6” and a 10” piece of duct tape, and join them stick sides together so that 2” of the stick side on the 10” piece is left exposed on either end. Join the two sticky sides together, sandwiching a magnet between them. Make 3 more of these, which will then slide over the arms and hold the rings.

    Heads Poles

    Time: 15 minutes
    Cost: $8-10 per set (head and pole)

    Overview

    A 5’ length of 1” PVC with two bar magnets serving as a “shelf” provides a place for the foam head to rest. A plate or large steel washer in the bottom of the head secures the head to the magnets.

    Materials Notes

    • You can use any flat chunk of steel, such as nailer plates, instead of the large fender washers, so long as it’s magnetic.
    • Large bar magnets can be found in any large craft stores, typically sold in packages of 2. You can also use old speaker magnets of at least 1 ½” in diameter.
    • Foam heads can be found in beauty supply stores (local or mail order), or you can use a foam-filled sack with a flat bottom.

    Instructions

    1. Cut a 5’ length of 1” PVC.
    2. Sandwich two bar magnets between two layers of duct tape, leaving extra flaps of tape on the side. Place the magnet sandwich on the top of the pole, forming a shelf, and tape the extra flaps to the pole with more tape until it is very secure.
    3. Tape a fender washer or other piece of metal to the bottom of a head with one long piece of duct tape. As with the magnet sandwich, tape the extra duct tape flaps securely to the head, but do not put any more duct tape directly over the metal.
    4. Cover the foam head with duct tape or strapping tape, so it doesn’t get smashed as easily. Tie one end of a 2’ cord to the neck, and tape the other end to the PVC hole just a few inches below the magnet shelf.

    Quintain

    Quintain

    Time: 2 hours, plus glue drying time.
    Cost: $40

    Overview

    4x4 with a dual-layered iron pipe pivot, a 2x4 beam and a small detachable/replaceable shield made from 2 layers of ½” plywood. A pre-made metal mailbox post anchor holds it upright.

    Materials Notes

    • You can use a pressure-treated 4x4, but try not to.
    • The pivot is designed to be easily replaceable, and it is always advisable to bring along a spare. The two layers of iron pipe make it reasonably strong.
    • The shield can be made out of a single layer of ¾” plywood, but is then more prone to breaking unless you reinforce it with a plastic or leather "face".

    Instructions

    1. Cut the 4x4 to either 6’ (if you have horses in the 15hh range) or 6’6” (if you have horses 16hh or bigger). Using a 1 ¼” drill bit, drill a centered, straight hole through what will become the top end of the 4x4. The hole should be at least 4”, preferably 6”. Round over the corners of the top to reduce surface area, then heavily sand the top until it is very smooth.
    2. Cut a 4’ length of 2x4. At the very center, use the 1 ¼” bit to drill a pivot hole. Sand the faces of the 2x4 smooth where the hole is. At one end drill another 1 ¼” hole to accept counterweights. This piece is now the beam.
    3. Cut 2 identical shield pieces out of ½” plywood. The pieces can be larger or smaller than the size shown, but making them larger means you’ll have to add more counterweight. Heavily glue both pieces together, clamp or set something heavy on them, and let them dry for several hours.
    4. On what will be the back of the shield, draw a horizontal line 1/3 of the way down from the top. Cut a length of 2x4 equal to the width of your shield (assumed to be 12”), then glue and nail the 2x4 to the shield.
    5. Rest the shield on top of the beam so that the beam’s 2x4 is under the one on the back of the shield. Line up the ends of both 2x4s, then drill 2 holes through both 2x4s to accept bolts. The holes should be the same size as the bolts you’re using. Now bolt the shield to the beam using your bolts, washers and wingnuts.
    6. Insert the ¾” iron pipe into the 1” iron pipe, and screw on the 1” end cap. This is now the pivot. Test the fit of the pivot into the hole at the top of the quintain, it should not slide in and out easily. If it does, wrap the portion of the 1” pipe which will be inside the hole with duct tape until you have a snug fit.
    7. Counterweight the quintain. Remove the pivot (or unscrew the end cap) and place the beam on the quintain. Make a circle or a bag out of your cloth, and use it as a sack to hold sand. Lean the quintain up at a 45-degree angle, and place enough sand in the sack balance out the shield (or close). If you do not want to use as much sand, nail the cutoff piece of 4x4 (or other wood) to the bottom of the beam. Stand the quintain up and check rotation. If it seems too stiff, check the pivot hole or apply axle grease or other lubricant.
    8. Drive the mailbox post anchor into the ground using a piece of cutoff 4x4 (or 2 2x4s nailed flat sides together) and a sledge. Tighten the anchor post bolts.

    Optional Features

    • If you find the anchor post alone does not provide sufficient strength to hold the quintain up, cut a 4’ length of 2x4 and angle one end to 45-degrees. Drill a bolt hole through the other end as well as the quintain, and bolt the 2x4 on as an extra “leg” to brace impact. 2 “legs” can also be used if the quintain will be hit from 2 directions
    • To reinforce the pivot area, tightly wrap 40’ of manilla/natural fiber rope around the top sides of the 4x4 and soak the rope with Elmer’s glue.
    • Another option to securely hold the iron pivot in place is a "set screw". Purchase a "T nut" and a bolt to fit it, drill a hole 2" from the top of the post, dead center with the pivot rod hole. Pound the T-nut into the hole, thread the bolt in. If you want to be able to really crank it down, epoxy the edges of the T-nut after insertion.

    Last Modified: 02/23/2002 20:03:44

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