ABOUT

The origin of Tentpegging can be traced to 500 BC Archaeological finds of clay pottery depict pictures of riders on horseback using lances and swords to strike objects at a full gallop.  In the Middle Ages knights practice various forms of Tentpegging to prepare themselves physically and mentally for battle.  These practice sessions led to fierce rivalry, and soon tournaments were organized to determine the best knight, closely monitored by the ruling king.  A well-trained force of knights ensured the king’s position on the throne was not threatened by rivals.

 

The modern status of Tentpegging was established by the occupying British forces in India in the 19th Century.  On returning to England, the sport was introduced to  the public, and the first modern day event was held at Hurlingham.  Tentpegging was introduced to South Africa by the British forces during the Anglo Boer War, and the first tournament was held at Middelburg (Cape) by the British Bengal Lancers.

 

Shortly thereafter, regular tournaments where held, and the appeal of the sport widened to include riders from outside the military.  In 1930 the Gymkhana Union was formed, and has gained popularity with a broad sector of horse lovers.  A name change was introduced, and today in South Africa, Gymkhana is officially represented by the South African Equestrian Tentpegging Association (SAETA).

 

SAETA is well represented all over the country.  South Africa is sub-divided into 10 regions, and each region has a functional management system.  Each year an Interprovincial competition is held to determine the best provincial team in the country.

 

National Colours are awarded on an annual basis at the National Championship.  All grades of riders are accommodated and regular international competitions are held for Senior, Junior, Ladies, Girls, Boys and Masters.  During the last three years, international competitions were held against Britain, Australia, Israel, Pakistan, India and Namibia.  Tentpegging is well represented internationally, and in no fewer than 18 countries the sport is practiced and gaining acceptance.  One of the prime objectives of SAETA, in association with its international partners, is to promote the sport to a level where it can achieve status at the WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES.

 

Tent-pegging is particularly popular in the Indian sub-continent till the post war period. Although there is difference of opinion as to how and where it started, it is almost certain that tent-pegging is a sport of Asian Origin.

 

One source dates it back to the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. which lends credence to the belief that the sport originated in the North Western province of India and Afghanistan through where Alexander had entered India. The cavalry soldiers of Alexander were believed to have used tent-pegging as a battle tactics against the elephants in the army of the Indian King Porus, who fought bravely against the invaders, lost the battle, but by virtue of his heroic demeanour , charmed Alexander, who returned to Porus, his kingdom, and made him his friend.

 

There is also a belief that the sport originated with the horse-mounted soldiers charging enemy camps at the crack of dawn removing the pegs which held the tents in place, with the tips of their sharp spears.

 

But most equestrian authorities are of the opinion that tent-pegging originated in India in the middle ages in the battle fields as a tactics used by the horsed cavalry against elephant mounted troops. The soldiers discovered that the best way to make the elephants ineffective was to attack them on their toe nails with sharp spears from the back of the galloping horse. In order to perfect this technique, the cavalry started the practice of tent-pegging which eventually turned into the modern sport. Tent-pegging is now a popular equestrian sport in many countries around the world.

 

These days the rider uses either a lance or a sword and charges in a full gallop across the arena which is specified in the rules and attempts to pick up the wooden / card board pegs stuck into the ground. This can be done individually or in a team.

 

The sport got its first official recognition when the Olympic Council of Asia accepted Tent-pegging as an official event in the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games. Thereafter India as well as other countries has been hosting International Tent-pegging events regularly which have seen participation of countries across different continents.