Tent-Pegging: A Mystery Revealed

Cyberspace can cause extraordinarily random expansions in one’s field of knowledge. I’ve just picked up a response to a blog I posted yonks ago on growing giant bamboo called A Taste of the Tropics (by the way, the original giant bamboo to which it referred fell victim to Dr Biswell’s somewhat fallible memory for looking after stuff in pots when we went away for a fortnight – fortunately, the Real World Consultant was in a position to issue the immortal words ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ & giant bamboo is still very much with us). Anyway. The point is, I was contacted by a courteous optimist who asked me how it was getting along, and did I have any male, i.e. solid bamboo because he practised the mounted sport of tent-pegging and needed some to make lances with. Tent-pegging? I asked – first of myself, then of Google, and this is what I found:
‘Tent-pegging is one of the most popular equestrian sports and was 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. … 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.’
So now I know, and now you know too. Tell me, had you heard of tent-pegging? I have handed on my equestrian correspondent to the Scottish Bamboo Nursery, which has absolute thickets of full-grown bamboo of all kinds; & hope all is well. I suppose the other question is, why do elephants particularly dislike being bashed on the toenails? Rather well defended by Dame Nature, one would have thought.

2 Responses to “Tent-Pegging: A Mystery Revealed”

  1. the tropical godfather Says:

    Why do elephants particularly dislike being bashed on the toenails? Because it chips their nail varnish of course! I should have thought that was obvious.

  2. Jon Says:

    More to the point, HOW did they discover that this was the most effective way of stopping elephants? It sounds like an extremely dangerous process of trial and error.

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