Tent Pegging

An_elephant_with_his_mahout_attacked_by_a_spearman_on_horse.Legend says that in 326 B.C. the cavalry soldiers of Alexander the Great used a unique battle tactic against the elephants used by the army of the Indian King Porus. Mounted on swift moving horses, cavaliers used lances or swords to impale the elephant’s tender feet, potentially causing the elephant to break ranks and cause disruption in the infantry. The writings of Arrian and Diodorus, the two ancient-world historians who wrote about the battle dispute that legend, saying that the phallangitai (foot soldiers with long pikes) defeated the elephants and not the Alexander’s cavalry.

Learning from their experience with long pikes, the men in India began practicing a unique form of mounted warfare – tent pegging. Riders used lances, swords or bayonets to impale targets, like tent pegs, from the ground. Swift warriors on horseback removed the tent pegs and were followed more mounted soldiers who took advantage of the surprise and havoc caused by collapsed tents and a confused enemy.

This was very effective and the technique spread through Asia and later through the European empires.

In England, tent pegging has been featured as a popular form of public entertainment since Victorian times, in particular at the Naval and Military Tournament, which became the famous Royal Tournament. As a battle tactic, the skills associated with tent pegging were practiced through World War I. By World War II however, horses were no longer an effective war tool and tent pegging turned primarily to sport.

Today, tent pegging is especially popular in Australia, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The first Australian Civilian Tentpegging team was formed in 1964, with the British Tentpegging Association being formed in the 1990’s. In 1982, The Olympic Council of Asia included tent pegging as an official sport and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) recognized the sport in 2004.

As it transformed from a military maneuver to sport so to has the definition of tent pegging. The British Tentpegging Association performs the following tasks in competition:

  • Tentpgegging
  • Rings and Peg
  • Lemons and Peg
  • Sword, Lance, Revolver (SLR)
  • Dummy Thrusting
  • Turks Head
  • Spear throwing
  • Quintain

For more information on the sport of tent pegging consider visiting these sites:

The British Tentpegging Association
The Australian Tentpegging Association
Penta Grand
UNICEF Team Canada

Equestrian-Tent-Pegging-World-Championship-2013