Film: The Troy Ride
When planning a workshop on Equestrian Labyrinths - New and Old Uses and Designs, given at The Labyrinth Society’s annual Gathering in New Harmony, Indiana in November 2010, I wanted to ride a horse in a labyrinth. My brother, Ben Nicholson, contacted The Posey County Saddle Club and asked if anyone would like to come and ride their horse in a labyrinth with a view to lending me a horse in a year’s time.
With Jill Baker’s help, Ben and I made a temporary 7-circuit classic labyrinth out of lime at the Posey County Fairground. Three riders arrived, trustingly bringing an extra horse for me, and I demonstrated riding a horse in a labyrinth. The riders immediately realized the benefits for both horse and rider and called their friends to bring more horses and riders. When they all arrived Ben and I looked at each other and realized we had enough horses and riders to recreate The Game of Troy as described by Virgil in the Aeneid and as depicted on the Tragliatella Vase.
Realizing that a classic labyrinth would not serve our purposes I consulted Jeff Saward, labyrinth historian, who joined the project and designed a mirrored classic labyrinth which paid homage to the Tragliatella Vase and allowed us to design a ride that followed Virgil’s prose. The version of Aeneid Book 5 read by Jeff at the workshop narrating the ride is his slightly adapted version of the Dryden edition. John Dryden translated, rendered Virgil in “heroical verse”, and first published his work in 1697.
While I was at home in New Mexico, Ben made a Troy Ride labyrinth at his home in New Harmony for members of The Posey County Saddle Club to develop and practice the 8-horse ride, which they did for months. Two of the members trained their horses to ride the labyrinth at speed to demonstrate the training of warriors according to Virgil’s description. Generously, a horse was trained for me to ride in the workshop demonstration.
the workshop demonstration Ben and I made a Troy Ride Labyrinth
scaled for horses. It had four foot wide paths, a thirty foot
center circle, and
overall diameter of eighty-six feet. It was made out of leaf mold
covered in athletic lime on the lawn between the Wabash River and the
Atheneum Visitors Center on the principle of leave no trace. The
Troy Ride is performed here by members of the Posey County Saddle
Club probably for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire. I have since made The
Troy Ride Labyrinth at Whitewater Mesa Labyrinths.
A copy of the film on DVD can be ordered from our online webstore.
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