Spear vs Horseback

Spear vs Horseback – Master

Folio 46 r. b


Here are three players who want to kill this master. The first one who wants to hurt him carries his lance underhand half way down its length. The other couches his lance at full extension. The third one wants to throw his lance. It has been decided that no one should take more than one strike each. They also attack one by one.

Come one by one who wants to, for I will not leave for any of you. Also I wait in Posta Dente de Zenghiaro (Boars Tooth Guard). When the lance is set against me or thrown by hand, I immediately pass off the line, that is, my right foot advances and with the left I pass across, beating the lance aside that comes to hurt me. Not once in a thousand times will this fail. What I do with the ghiavarina, I could also do with a staff or sword. And the defences that I make against the lance, I could also use against the sword and the staff in the plays that follow.


The Master of Spear vs Horseback finds himself in the most unenviable situation of being caught on foot and about to be ridden down. Even if the attackers weapon misses, it is quite possible that the master will be knocked to the ground and trampled to death.

Having horses race at you like this is a mentally shattering experience. They close with tremendous speed. The ground literally shakes, and the air is filled with the pounding noise of hoofbeats. The shaking ground produces uncontrollable fine motor tremors in your body which are very similar to a fear response. Regardless of your emotional state, the body leads the mind in such circumstances to panic. To survive this, the Master needs a clear head, and impeccable timing.

The Master here is armed with a ghiavarina. This is a long bladed spear capable of both cutting as well as thrusting. Closely related to the hunting spear, it has large lugs to prevent your dying target climbing up the shaft.

Wait in Posta Dente di Zenghiaro. As your opponent bears down on you, step offline with your front foot, striking diagonally upward, and beating their weapon aside. This will leave you well positioned to make your counter as seen in the following plays.

A technically very simple move, the circumstances make it considerably harder to perform in practice. Due to the speed the horse gives to your opponent, you will need to move very quickly. Depending on how close their line of attack is, you may need to step quite a long way out to avoid being knocked over by the horse itself. Also, the intimidating prospect of being ridden down by cavalry will require you to have nerves of steel.

Spear vs Horseback

Spear vs horseback – 1st scholar

Folio 46 r. c


This is the play of the previous master who is waiting with the ghiavarina against the horsemen in Posta Dente di Zenghiaro. In passing off the line and beating the attack aside I enter this play, and because I understand how to place it, I can strike him in the head with a cut or thrust, my ghiavarina moves so well.


The play of the 1st scholar is technically very simple, although rather harder in practice than theory. From Posta Dente di Zenghiaro, beat the point of your opponents spear up and to your right. Ensure that it ends with the point directed at your opponents face. The forward momentum of the horse will cause your opponent to impale themselves.

As discussed in the explanation of the master play, having a horse thunder past you at such close range is a psychologically overwhelming experience. Even more so when it is being ridden by an opponent with a dangerous weapon and deadly intent. The hardest part of this play is keeping a clear head.

Timing is the key to making this work The greatly foreshortened view of your opponent coupled with the speed of the horse make it much harder than it sounds to guage the distance and timing of your beat. Also, of course, you only get one opportunity to make the attempt work.

Even if you avoid the spear point, you are still in danger of being run over by the horse. If you need to step offline, move your back foot to the left in the instant before the beat starts. Move your front foot also to the left after the beat, but before making contact with the point

You need to be far enough to the side to avoid the riders knee as they pass, but still close enough that you hit your opponent reasonably straight on.

Spear vs Horseback

Spear vs horseback – 2nd scholar

Folio 46 r. d


This is also a play of the previously mentioned master who waits in posta dente di zenghiaro. In his place, I do this. When the lance is beaten aside, I turn my spear and strike with the butt, which is capped in well tempered steel.


Although the context is different, this play is essentially the same as the counter to the masters of spear on foot. You will notice it is also mechanically very similar to the pommel strike used by the 3rd scholar of the 3rd master of sword in two hands.

The master play has you waiting for your opponent in Posta Dente di Zenghiaro. As they bear down on you, step offline and beat up with your spear point, knocking your opponents lance past your head.

Depending on the individual circumstances of the beat, you may not be able to strike with the point as the 1st scholar suggests. If your spear point has risen too high, or your opponent is moving too fast, your opportunity to counter is not lost.

Step with your right foot to give yourself appropriate distancing. Given the motion of the horse, this will very probably be a step backwards. Continue the motion of the spear, rotating the butt upwards, directing it into your opponents face. You are in a mechanically strong position and your cover will push their lance aside. Their own momentum will cause them to impale themselves, as shown.

You will need to slide your hands on the spear shaft as it spins to give yourself the required reach. Notice the scholars left hand is in the middle of the spear, while their right is up by the spear head. You will also need to take care to give yourself enough space to be safely off to the side. Even if your counter is successful, if you are hit by your oppponents foot or knee as they pass, you can still potentially be knocked to the ground and trampled underfoot by the horse.