Besides the jousting, competitions of a different sort took place. Riding at Rings, a staple of the training many youths go through as they labor to become men worthy of knighthood, has often seen squires compete in it before lords and kings for the sake of prizes. But it’s rare indeed to see women compete in it, as a number of young ladies of high birth did on the grounds of the Red Keep. With a gathering of the nobility to watch, the king presided over a contest in which Princess Daena and one of her ladies in waiting, Lady Carmella Dondarion, competed against Lady Ammena of House Piper and two northwomen, Lady Marian Stark and Lady Aisling Ryswell. The contest began in earnest, but perhaps under the stares of so many in the crowd the bold princess and her lady-in-waiting faltered in their first two tries at the rings, while Lady Marian rode boldly and—to the surprise of many—the Ryswell and Piper maidens seemed to ride flawlessly.
It’s well known that in the North, the ways are different enough that women might well have more training to ride with skill, but for southron lordlings it was an unusual sight indeed! And what of the daughter of the riverlands? Each time, she matched Lady Aisling, until a last course was called to determine the victor. In the end the Piper maiden faltered, and Lady Aisling took home the prize of 50 gold dragons. All the contestants were also awarded a golden ring, inscribed with the king’s name and the date of the contest.