Winston Churchill  famously once said

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

I always thought this applied well to cycling into a tree, getting back up and finishing the Glentress blue route. Well, how wrong I was. In an attempt to help our very own Joseph write an article on individual sports participants within Selkirk High School I went on a little hunt myself. Being in Selkirk where horse riding is a vast and well participated in sport I started within my own year with people I knew partook in horse riding. Laura (S6) was the first and last person I reached out to. I got enough information from her to write a 15,000 word essay never mind a little article. However, she didn’t quite meet the ‘sports’ criteria but most definitely fitted perfectly into the ‘absurdly fantastic’ category.

To summarise what Laura does in very simplistic terms is, she is effectively a horse riding cross breed between Jackie Chan and Merida from ‘Brave’. Now, that would confuse most people, including myself, so here’s an explanation. If you have ever been to a medieval fair, such as the one held annually at Linlithgow Palace, you may already have an idea of what she does. As part of a group of people who, as I’ve been assured of, are trained stunt artists they travel around the country performing at things such as medieval and Country Western fairs, agricultural shows and theatre.

Now, this is the part that if you thought you were brave you are either diminished to a nothingness, as I was, or see this as absolutely bonkers and not quite bravery but rather just outright madness. At these shows they perform various rather frightening activities such as real life jousting – yes, with real falls and real lances that, as I have been told, weigh a lot; trick riding – I dare to think what that involves – and various other off the wall things. Alongside this they also do archery, knife throwing – just in case you do survive the horse riding; Houdini-like activities and stilt walking. That last one sounds fairly safe until you bring in people knocking you off them while riding a horse and motorcycles with sidecars riding through your legs.

It was at this point my brain diminished to a pulp, similar to when we were introduced to the real reason there is gravity in Advance Higher Physics. So to save you from any further degradation of brain matter I shall move onto the less absurd matter.

Up until our discussion I though of the Norwegian Fjord only as a magnificent geological formations found in Norway – which were secretly created by Slartibartfast from ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘. However, they are also a type of horse the group use for their shows alongside the Dutch originating ‘Friesians’ and originally Spanish ‘Andalusians’.  To add to the overall atmosphere of their shows they also don authentic costumes under which, I have been told, you will find no body armour. From what I can gather, Laura has spent time as a fairy and had the unfortunate disposition of being a squire – with modern takes obviously offering more gender diversity in the role. I believe this is to be taken by its historical definition – “A young nobleman acting as an attendant to a knight before becoming a knight himself.” – Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press – and does in fact involve catching very large lances, not too unlike the caber toss in reverse.

However, this does not come without blood, sweat and tears. When I asked “Is that not very dangerous?” I received the reply “Yes it hurts but it’s great fun. All the horses are trained for it and all [performers] are put through extreme bootcamp.” Performers are taught gymnastics and do muscle building activities. Not quite the life for everyone but apparently it is for some.

I shall let you make your own mind up as to whether this is utterly amazing or out-and-out madness. However, one thing we can gather from this is that Selkirk High School is fortunate enough to have yet another very interesting person within its ranks.