That day, after the usual morning chores – things their taskmaster, the master at arms refers to as “strengthening exercises” – such as chopping wood and drawing water, Gorthyn, Maelgwyn and Semond turn to some knightly practice, which they attend to with much enjoyment.
Firstly, they practice with the loop – each squire bringing his horse to a canter and attempting to slip a hanging wooden loop onto his lance.
Semond and Gorthyn fail on their first attempt, and Maelgwyn succeeds. They then move on to the Quintain, where Semond and Maelgwyn both succeed, and again, Gorthyn fails.
Lastly, they take to the fields in a cross country race to test their steads and their horsemanship. This time Gorthyn feels he has a good chance, since he believes he is the better horseman of the trio. They set out and almost right away, Maelgwyn is off to a slow start, but Semond takes a lead. After 5 furlongs, the leaders falter, and Gorthyn takes second place. As they close towards the finish, Gorthyn abruptly tumbles from his horse, and eventually remounts to come in last after Semond and Maelgwyn. Gorthyn is only slightly bruised by his fall, but his ego had taken a bigger injury.
After the race, Gorthyn is much abashed by his poor showing, and mumbles something about the faeries having kept him awake the night with disturbing dreams – perhaps foreshadowing the day. Generously, he gives credit to the excellent skill showed by Semond and Maelgwyn. He then checks his equipment carefully – and discovers that the girth-strap on his fine Camargue charger was loose. It would seem that Alcippe, his pride and joy – had the trick of holding her breath in when one was saddling her! Gorthyn was still learning about his new horses’ characteristics, and this one was probably responsible for his embarassing performance that day.
As soon as he can, he takes his leave from the others to make an offering of mare’s milk in the woods at a faerie ring to placate the woodland spirits, and he plucks a nearby sprig of herbs to hang in the stable over Alcippe.