What are international postal matches?
The concept of postal matches is not a new one. They have been common in target archery for many years. Postal competitions are ideal for our sport: even within our own countries we are spread out and only a fortunate few are able to travel abroad to compete in person with foreign friends. With these postal matches you can compete at home or in your local club, on a familiar horse, and at the time of your choosing.
We welcome participation from everyone; from beginners to masters, regardless of school or affiliation. There are no prizes and people are not judgmental. Let’s all just have fun shooting together!
Our first postal match in July 2013 attracted 63 participants from 6 countries. By 2020 we have hundreds of people involved each month in a variety of matches: at walk, at trot, a canter match on a standard (gradable) track, a try out canter match on a more uncommon straight track, and arena course matches that utilise all the space of a 20x40m arena.
Each match runs for 2 months and you can participate in it at the time and location that suits you (some people take part within their clubs, some at home. The rules and a scoring spreadsheet for the next match will be posted here and results should be returned through our score returns site: www.ihaa.eu. Categories mean that within each match people are competing against others of a similar age or experience to themselves. Results are posted here and on our Facebook page a couple of days after the closing date for the match.
Canter postal matches
These matches have been running since 2013.
The canter postal matches will often include a track that is included in the IHAA grading system (eg: Raid 123, R23 or R233 or Tower 90), so that people might be able to use their scores to work towards their goals in grading too. Other times we might set a familiar non-grading course (eg. Aussie 23, Texas triple). The aim is to set a track that is fun and accessible to all. So that each person can measure their success against people of a comparable age and experience the results are split into the categories of: Adult - experienced, Adult - beginner, Junior & Young rider - experienced, Children Junior & Young rider - beginner and iHBA (including all ages and levels of experience for riders classified as iHBA)
Canter try-out postal matches
These matches have been running since 2019.
The try-out canter postal matches allow us to share tracks that have cultural or historic significance, ones that are in the advanced stages development and testing, and those which are just too difficult to set for the canter postals which are supposed to be accessible to all. These matches might include tracks that are less well known internationally but popular tracks within one region (eg the Turkish Tabla track), or more difficult (eg. the Mamluk90, Skirmish90 or the EOCHA triple) The categories for these matches are: Adult, Junior & Young rider.
Walk postal matches
These matches have been running since 2017.
The original aim of the walk postal matches was to provide a match for those who prefer to shoot at walk due to being new to horseback archery and we still recognise the overall winners of the match as those in the Adult - beginner and the Children, Junior & Young rider - beginner categories.
We are increasingly developing iHBA (inclusive / para hba); of course our iHBA riders may ride at any gait but the walk matches are an ideal introduction to iHBA riders. Equally they are a forum where iHBA riders who are physically unable to participate at canter can keep competing to the highest levels.
We were surprised to find many experienced horse archers using the walk matches for winter training where ground conditions prevent canter, or to bring on novice horses - we now have the categories of Adult - experienced and Junior & Young rider - experienced so that they can compete amongst themselves.
The walk postal matches will tend to be either the Korean triple or Aussie triple (which are designed to be run on a 90m track but may be squeezed into tracks of 50m or up to 90m for those who have less space and otherwise couldn’t participate) or the Arena 30 which is a track that can be run within a 40m area.
Trot postal matches
The aim of the trot postal matches is similar to the walk matches - but the next step up. They were also introduced in 2017 and include the same categories and tracks as the walk matches.
Arena course matches
More chances to compete and more fun.
Those were the two main goals in mind when the arena course matches were developed. There are very few riding schools with 90 metre tracks compared to the amount of riding schools with 40x20m arenas and most 90 metre tracks are not safe to ride during the winter.
Accessible for anyone with an arena
So why not set up a postal competition with courses that fit exactly in a 40x20 arena? This way, any riding school or anyone with an arena can participate in a postal horseback archery match!
Adapting existing straight tracks to an arena has been done previously by keeping them straight and making them shorter. But here arena courses have been developed in their own right, making full use of the arena and using it to train the horse and rider on both sides, making both more balanced.
More emphasis on riding
The above means in the arena courses there will be more emphasis on riding your horse, such as more emphasis on canter lead changes. The idea is to encourage more balance, consistency, and versatility in horse training, such that more archery horses will be able to pick up either canter lead easily and be able to go various speeds for different activities.
Walk, trot and canter
To make these matches accessible for everyone, all tracks can be ridden in walk, trot and canter. There are separate general rules for the walk and trot versions.
Shorter matches and more fun
Riders can spend much less time on their horses in an arena course match. Therefore more riders can use the same horse, making it easier for organisers to have an arena postal match. The short time the match takes should also make it more fun to partcipate and more exciting to watch!
Hunt tracks and Polish tracks are a firm favourite with horsearchers but the space requirement and unique designs had previously hindered their use in postal matches. In 2020 we shared a Postal Polish track designed by Wojtek Osieki to be set up within an 80x40m area but to encompass all of the features of a Hunt track: the curving track, change in canter lead, and all the different shots (front, side, back, ground, offside and long distance).
We’re certain that these condensed Polish tracks will be fantastic for training on as well as allowing a welcome opportunity to compete together in a postal match with a difference.
The IHAA was established in late 2013.
Bringing the Global community of Horseback Archers together via Postal Matches and a standardised Grading System.