The horses of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery enjoyed a late summer break in the West Country last week.
Twelve horses and riders left their Woolwich, London, base to head to Cornwall. It was the first time the horses had been to the seaside in four years.
The horses stayed at a temporary stables in RAF St Mawgan and on Thursday (10 September) headed to the shore to take to the surf on Watergate Bay Beach.
The working horses enjoyed the sea breeze and the cool water, which are a “world away from the unit’s high-profile day-to-day ceremonial activities in the busy capital”, said a spokesman for the Troop.
The visit to Cornwall is a vital military and equestrian training exercise, which is impossible to deliver in the confines of a London-based barracks.
“This camp is an excellent opportunity for both the horses and the soldiers to take a well earned break from their ceremonial duties in London” said Captain Nick Watson, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
“The Troop hasn’t had the opportunity to send horses to Cornwall since 2011, but they always enjoy themselves on these beautiful beaches, and what they learn here will make them better prepared for the rigours of what they face in London.”
Riding on the beach is an essential part of work to build trust and confidence between horse and rider.
Not all horses have seen the sea before, or have the confidence to go into the churning surf, and the waves at Watergate Bay are particularly powerful.
“Even a confident horse can be spooked when the sand beneath their hooves starts to shift and sink,” added the Troop’s spokesman.
“But by trusting their rider and overcoming their fears, the bond between horse and rider is made stronger, and this then becomes vital for dealing with the unpredictable during high-profile events back in London.”
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery is an integral part of the Household Division and their duties include the firing of Royal Salutes in the Royal Parks on Royal Anniversaries and state occasions, on Remembrance Sunday and The Queen’s Birthday Parade. They also provide the gun carriage and a team of black horses for State and military funerals.
Uniquely in the army, the unit is currently 50% female.
Don’t miss H&H magazine next week (24 September) for a behind-the-scenes look at the King’s Troop stables in Woolwich.