Uri Driscoll fires an arrow off his horse Soulseeker. Photo credit: Ian Thompson

The courage to ride

Story about horseback archery, medieval festival of courage next weekend and an archer named Raina May.

By | Ian Benjamin Finnegan Thompson

Raina May was two when she rode Dusty the horse on a trail in Crater Lake. When she was one, May remembers being drawn to the images of horses in picture books her mother would read her. Ever since those experiences, May has been in love with horses.

“I like how they’re really big but really gentle, like gentle giants,” said May.

Another passion of May’s is archery.

“When I was five my dad made me a willow bow and quiver,” said May.

May combines these two loves through horseback archery, also known as mounted archery.

May wanted to do horseback archery since she saw the Rogue Mounted Archers from Oregon. Through the help of a friend, who was willing to share their horse, May was able to start doing mounted archery. She now competes in international tournaments.

Last year she won first place in the juniors division at the Rogue Mounted Archers International Competition at the age of eight.

Saturday was the first day May rode and shot off of Annie the mule. May previously rode a horse named Remedy until the horse died two months ago. Remedy was a temperamental retired Rodeo horse who was partially blind.

“No one else could ride her, but the horse liked Raina,” said Katie May. “It may have been how light she was on the horse.”

Annie is owned by Darcey Lima who also owned Remedy. May was introduced to Lima through her principal Bettina Eipper of Coastal Grove Charter School in Arcata after Eipper heard May wanted to do horseback archery. Through the support of May’s family, Eipper and Lima, May was able to ride Remedy and now Annie.

May practiced horseback archery along with other classmates from Coastal Grove in Blue Lake on Saturday in preparation for the Medieval Festival of Courage.

Every Waldorf school, including Coastal Grove, has a Festival of Courage event every fall said Eipper. The autumn festival is symbolic of preparing for the dark days of winter and awakening to our inner lives.

“You have to slay your dragons before winter comes,” said Eipper.

May’s performance with her classmates and members of the Blue Lake Mounted Archers can be seen at the Medieval Festival of Courage in Blue Lake on October 7 and 8.The festival is a fundraiser for Coastal Grove Charter School. The performances and choreography are being planned by May’s friends and Coastal Grove students Ariana Burchill and Haven Smyth. The horseback archers will incorporate costumes, music, battles, stories and narrative into their equestrian performances.

Proceeds of the event will support Coastal Grove which will in turn support May’s goal of living and working with horses.

“I want to have a big farm with a bunch of horses and be a horse trainer,” said May. She also wants a mounted archery course on her farm to teach others how to shoot on horseback.

To learn more about the festival, visit medievalfestivalofcourage.org.


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