Four members of the BHAA travelled to Sweden last week for the first Gaethic Championships. We were also joined by three representatives of Germany. Similar to the UK, horseback archery is a young sport in Sweden and the competition was tagged onto a well-known medieval festival held at Ekenas Caste in the south of the country. The organisers hoped by demonstrating the sport at such a public arena it would increase awareness of horseback archery and attract some new recruits.We were greeted with the most wonderful, and scorching weather, over the weekend with perfect settings in a field surrounded by woods. The picturesque setting was fantastic, especially as dusk (which as at about 11pm!).
The competition involved both the Hungarian and Korean styles. As well as the competition a few people took part in a short demonstration in front of thousands of very excited Swedes who had never seen live horseback archery before. It was a lot of fun but at times chaotic as horses refused to run in the right directions or piled up on top of each other at the end of gallops!! The competitions went well with many of those entering experiencing their first proper competitive action. Horses were provided by a local lady by the name of Charlotte who was utterly fantastic and brought some great horses out for us. I think anyone who was there will never forget the speed of Bob who consistently covered the 90m track in 6 secs and on one run in 5.91 seconds! He really was some ride!!
The overall winner of the competition was Abdul-Mejid Schrade of Steppenreiter fame, 2nd place going to Neil Payne of the BHAA and 3rd place to Simone Fezer again of the Steppenreiter. The UK team overall did very well as two of our party were very new to the sport and the other had damaged his wrist in a fall. However, we have started to stamp our presence on the international scene now!
The BHAA would like to thank Robert Nordman for inviting us and we look forward to working with our Swedish counterparts to help this amazing sport grow in our respective countries. You can visit their website > Swedish Mounted Archery