Reeds is based on a Turkish training exercise. Posts are placed in two rows, and topped by reeds/sticks of varying heights. The rider goes down the middle, and uses a sword to cut down each reed, alternating strikes to the left and right. An alternate version uses different post heights, starting at 5 feet, and then being reduced in size to 1 foot — the varying heights of the reeds would train a rider to hit multiple live targets at nearly any height, thereby hamstringing, beheading or disemboweling them.
H. Rabie, in “The Training of the Mamluk Faris”, writes: “At first, a green reed the height of the faris was fixed in the ground. The horseman approached it from the right, riding very fast, and cut a span from it. He repeated the exercise a number of times until only one dhira (about 26 inches) was left from the length of the reed. The next exercise consisted of fixing five reeds to the ground on the right hand side of the faris, the distance between each reed being ten dhira (about 21.3 feet). The faris approached on horseback, cutting each reed, piece by piece, as in the preceding exercise. The last exercise of this kind involved the placing of five reeds on the right hand and five more on the left hand for the faris to cut through, piece by piece.”