An An Tir Autocrat's Primer: Having Horses at Your SCA Event
By Crystal L. Smithwick and Anne-Marie Rousseau
(aka Mistress Ynesen Ongge Xong Kerij-e, OL, OP and Maitress Anne-Marie d'Alleurs, OL, OP)
Horses were a major part of medieval life, and as the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) grows, we are finding more and more opportunities for incorporating them into our life in the Current Middle Ages as well. Horses add spectacle and flair to the event, as well as adding a wonderful opportunity for spectators. Having horses at your event adds a layer of complexity to the overall planning, but with forethought and organization, the outlay of effort is well worth it.
Disclaimer. We have been involved in equestrian events in the Kingdom of An Tir (Washington, Oregon, a bit of Idaho, and British Columbia) (autocrating, equestrian marshalling, and general do-body) for the past ten years. The terminology we use is common in An Tir. However, rules change and things are done differently in different kingdoms. Please use the resources listed at the end of this article to ensure you are following the appropriate rules. This article does not denote SCA policy and is only a guide.
The first steps are to evaluate your site and event and to determine if equestrian activities will be an asset to your event.
Can the site accommodate horses?
To determining if a site is appropriate for horses and horse activities, there are several initial things to consider. SCA equestrians are very resourceful and can manage with a minimum of facilities. They can have events in open, empty fields (and do!) but there’s some key questions that can help you determine if having horses at your event is feasible.
- Will your site owner allow horses on the proposed site?
- Are there areas of the site that does not allow horses?
- Is there an available space? Most games require about 210’ x 40’ of fairly flat, open space with no potholes, boulders, or stumps? The field is in addition to the space for the horses to be stalled or stable and parking. This can be shared with other event activities, but consider this carefully. Equestrian rules require a "clear line of demarcation, like flagging or fence line, between equestrians and spectators during mounted games or speed events."
- Is there space for trucks and trailers, including space to turn around?. Trailers are an average of 15' without a truck attached, 30' with truck. Trailers are modern looking and not easy to move. Most trailers also double as tack rooms, and the owners need them to be close to where the horses are being kept.
- Are there existing stalls or paddocks that can be used? If not, is there space for portable paddocks that is secure and preferably away from traffic. SCA equestrians are capable of bringing their own portable paddocks, but they will need to know that ahead of time. Estimate a 12' x 12' space for a single horse with at least a 6’ aisle. Some horses can share a combined space or a shared fence line
- Is there an accessible water source? Horses drink LOTS of water, about 15 gallons per horse per day, and while it’s possible for equestrians to pack in our own water, it’s not always feasible. A clean stream is an option for water.
- Can you set up horse-safe travel lanes (to and from field, trailers)? These lanes need to be wide enough for the horses to move along, along with several out walkers to keep small kids (and big kids) from running up and trying to pet the pretty horsie. If you keep everything together, lanes may not be needed.
- Is there a waste management option? Manure and soiled bedding will be being generated at the rate of about 20 lbs a day per horse. Often some local gardener would LOVE to take it off your hands). You’ll need to either have a dedicated dumpster (make sure the dumpster company knows what’s going in there!), some local truck owner to haul it all away, or permission from the site owner to add it to their compost heap. For one day events, it is possible to ask the equestrians to haul away their own waste.
Do you have the people needed to run equestrian activities?
It doesn’t take an army to put on an equestrian event, but it helps. You will need at least two people to get things started: an Equestrian Marshal-in-Charge (EMIC) and an equestrian liaison/autocrat.
What is an Equestrian Marshal in charge (EMIC)?
An Equestrian Marshal in Charge (EMIC) is the qualified equestrian marshal who oversees all equestrian activities, and turns in the appropriate reports at the end of the event. An EMIC must be a currently warranted equestrian marshals. Due to the limited number of EMICs, they are often from other groups, which is one of the reasons to have an equestrian liaison as well. If you do not have an equestrian marshal in your group, you can contact the An Tir Kingdom Equestrian Officer or see the An Tir Equestrian Web site for a list of qualified people.
A certified Equestrian Marshall in Charge (EMIC) duties include:
- Notifying the An Tir KEO that of the event and that he or she is the EMIC
- Ensuring the equestrian insurance certificate has been ordered and is being processed 45 days before the event. Note: This is an An Tirian requirement.
- Communicating with the KEO regarding the event during all phases of the event planning, execution, and follow-up
- Coordinating with the autocrat and the equestrian liaison
- Remaining a current member of the SCA, Inc. for the entire process
- Remaining on site as long as there are horses present or providing stand-in.
- Touring the site and facilities before the event, to determine that the site is safe and adequate
- Overseeing the setting up of all equipment for safety.
- Qualifying or verifying the qualifications of all equestrians, equestrian marshals, and groundcrew that will participate
- Ensuring all participates have signed the appropriate equestrian waivers and sign-in sheets. (This can be delegated to the gate, but the EMIC is still responsible for making sure everyone participating has signed.)
- Ensuring the proper signage is posted and visible.
- Completing all equestrian event reports, which include copies of the equestrian waiver coversheet. If the EMIC is handling equestrian waivers, decide if they should give the originals to the autocrat to file with the rest of the waivers,
or send them into the office separately. If the gate is handling the waivers, make sure the EMIC gets a copy of the waiver coversheet.
What is the equestrian liaison?
An Equestrian Liaison (sometimes called an Equicrat or Horse/Equestrian Autocrat or Horse/Equestrian Stewart) is an active part of your autocrat team, and coordinates with your autocrat team, the equestrian participants, and the EMIC. He or she is usually a member of the hosting group and acts as the local voice for the EMIC. The liaison does not need to be an equestrian marshals or even an active equestrians, but only need to work closely with the EMIC at every step.
The liaison’s duties can include:
- Coordinating between the EMIC and the Autocrat.
- In cooperation with the EMIC, they determining the activities.
- Arranging accommodations for horses and trailers.
- Arranging rental horses and coordinates reservations if the site allows this.
NOTE: The SCA cannot rent horses directly. Riders must contract directly with the rental agency. See the SCA Equestrian Handbook for restrictions. The liaison can accept reservations for horses and riders on behalf of the rental agency, but checks and money orders are made out to the rental agency.
- Arranging for gaming equipment, eric/clyde ropes, etc.
Note: Rules require a clear line of demarcation between equestrians and pedestrians for gaming events and speed trials)
- Arranging for groundscrew, water bearers, list ministers, heralds and other volunteers
- Notifying the chirurgeons and constabulary that there will be horses on site.
- Arranging for a veterinarian-on-call, which can be a local animal hospital. This number must be posted on site.
- Communicating event announcements, rules, requirements, and other information to equestrians
- Posting required WA State Equine Liability signage
In theory these two jobs can be rolled into the same person, but it's really best to have them be separate people. The EMIC will need to be actively supervising equestrian games, etc and the Equestrian Liaison may need to run off site to get something, or find somebody.
Do equestrian activities fit into your schedule?
If equestrian activities are not dependent on the rest of your schedule, the EMIC and liaison will figure out their own activity schedule. Activities usually start fairly early and can go all day, But since most sites do not have nighttime lighting, activities usually stop before dusk.
At the end of an event, if there are stalls that will need to be mucked, equipment packed, and horses to be prepared. These activities can mean that equestrians are some of the last people off the site.
If equestrians are going to share a space with another group (say archers or war fighters) there are some scheduling considerations.
- Most equestrian activities allow one participant at a time. Completing a course can take an hour for 5-7 participants.
- Equestrians need at least an hour to prepare their mounts, and afterwards about the same to break down a course, and then clean up manure.
- If the field is going to be used afterwards for fighting, there may also need to be some divot replacement.
Can your event afford the additional costs?
The SCA insurance covers all official SCA events but if there are horses on site, then the SCA requires an additional $50 insurance “rider.” This is NOT the Additional Insured certificate, which also may be required. Additional insured is usually required by sites that want to make sure that the SCA insurance won't change without notifying them or because their insurance requires additional wording.
The An Tir KEO requires that the EMIC verify that insurance has been ordered and is being processed by Corporate 45 days before the event.
In the request, include:
- $50 check made out to “Member Services, SCA Inc.” ($100 if you need additional insured.)
- Name of the site owner/facility and physical address of the site, a fax number and routing name for the fax.
- Start and end dates and times of the event (be specific: for example Friday, June 1, 2006 8 a.m. to Sunday, June 3, 2006 8 p.m.)
- Certificates (aka site owner) holder's name and address (This is not your local group - it is the church, park department, etc who is requesting that they be furnished a certificate. If this is the same as the physical site, be sure and indicate that, otherwise the request could be rejected for missing information.)
- Additional Insured wording - the exact wording that the certificate holder wishes to appear on the certificate. They will provide you with the wording.
- Your fax number or e-mail address or postal address and name with a request for a copy. You are not automatically sent a copy of the certificate.
- Event Coordinator: Your name and daytime phone number. I would also include your e-mail address.
- A request for a copy of the certificate is sent to you or the EMIC. The certificate is sent directly to the site owner.
Member Services RE: Equestrian Insurance
PO Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036-0789
TIP: You can also call the Milpitas office with your credit card number. Calling has the advantage that if you missed any information it can be fixed quickly. Mailed applications are often sent back by mail for corrections.
When the insurance paper is received, send a copy to the EMIC, who will forward a copy to the KEO and keep a copy for the event. This insurance paper must be received before your event. There has never been an example of the paperwork getting in TOO early.
For more information, see the How to order the SCA insurance certificate and About Equestrian Insurance.
How do you get the word out that there will be horses?
The An Tir Equestrian community has several lists and a web site. Your equestrian liaison takes care of that aspect. In event copy in the Crier, it is usually sufficient to include a single line in the official event announcement about equestrian activities with a contact name and number or e-mail.
If there is a web site, you can provide more detailed information with prices, facilities, schedule, and other requirements. The more information you provide, the more comfortable equestrians will feel about attending.
Don't forget to include a blurb in your site handout that there will be horses on site and include the boundaries of the horse areas on the site map.
Do you only want a couple horses for a ceremony or a class?
Sometimes, all you want is a couple of horses for a limited activity. In which case, you don’t really need all of the above. However, you still need:
- An Equestrian Marshal-in-Charge (on site as long as the horses are) to supervise and file the reports
- Equestrian Insurance
- A place for the trailer and the horses while not being used Equestrian waivers for the EMIC, the riders, and any handlers (outwalkers, etc.)
- The required WA State Equine Liability signage posted
Okay, so I think horses would work at my event, now what?
- Find yourself an EM with a current SCA membership and see if they want the job of EMIC. For Madrone events, you can contact the equestrian guild. The equestrian guild head attends the monthly baronial meeting. You can also attend the monthly equestrian guild meetings. See the guild calendar for dates and times of these meetings.
You can also contact the KEO directly for a recommendation.
- Once you have an EMIC, confirm with him or her that the event is viable. They may want to see the site first.
- Send the KEO a letter or e-mail with the name, date, and location of your event, and your EMIC's name and membership number with expiration date. The EMIC can also do this for you.
- Once the KEO confirms the EM is acceptable or assigns you one, order your insurance certificate within 45 days of the event, and don't forget to have a copy sent to you.
- Find someone local to act as your equestrian liaison. Introduce them to the EMIC.
- Decide if the EMIC will hand the equestrian waivers or if they will be added to the gate? Everyone who participates in equestrian events must sign the equestrian waiver, even if they have a blue card. If they are a minor, then the parent or guardian must sign. The EMIC will need copies of the equestrian waiver cover letters for the equestrian report. You turn in the originals with your regular waiver paperwork.
Is that all?
In a nutshell? Yes... The EMIC and Equestrian Liaison will take care of the rest. Get all your ducks in a row at the beginning, keep open lines of communication, ask questions, and get answers.
Everyone will have a great time! On the behalf of the equestrians of An Tir, “Thank you for your support."
Resources and Places to find out more about horses in the SCA
There’s lots of places with info. Be sure to check and make sure it’s the most current stuff! As the equestrian community grows and develops, rules and regulations come and go and its important to make sure you’re using the most up to date info. The Kingdom Equestrian officer and your EMIC can help you navigate this.
Society Equestrian Officer’s Web page
SCA Equestrian Handbook Online
http://www.sca.org/officers/marshal/combat/equestrian/index.html (PDF format)
This can also be purchased from the SCA Stock Clerk.
SCA Forms and Waivers
How to order the SCA insurance certificate
Specifics about the equestrian insurance
An Tir Equestrian Web site
An Tir Equestrian Officer contact info
An Tir Book of Horse, aka An Tir Equestrian Handbook
An Tir Equestrian EMIC Checklist
Per the KEO, "The EMIC Check List has the force of law in this Kingdom. "
An Tir Equestrian Waivers and Forms
An Tir Horse list
Western An Tir Announcement List (Puget Sound area)
Madrone Equestrian Guild
Copyright 2004 - 2010 - Crystal Smithwick and Anne Marie Rousseau
Created December 15, 2005
Revised Dec. 16, 2005, Apr. 15, 2005, Feb. 14, 2006; Jan. 02, 2010