Today (19 October 2017) the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery will parade in Hyde Park to mark its 70th anniversary. Go behind the scenes to see what life is like for the horses on the yard in Woolwich, London
In February 2012 the King’s Troop waved an emotional goodbye to St John’s Wood in central London — the unit’s home since its formation in 1947 by George VI.
The 111 horses are now based in state-of-the-art, purpose built facilities on King George VI Lines in Woolwich, south-east London. Take a look at what life is like for the residents…
Go behind-the-scenes with the King’s Troop
Monarch Equestrian was chosen to provide the 96 stalls and 48 stables. The soldiers’ ‘lines’ horses — which stand at up to 16.2hh and are hogged — live in stalls, but rotate through loose boxes, and the officers’ chargers — which are typically bigger than 17hh and keep their manes — go in the roomy boxes.
Lines horses names have to begin with the first letter of the Commanding Officer’s (CO) name and chargers are all named after characters from Robert Smith Surtees’ novels written from the point of view of ‘Jorrocks’, a sporting cockney grocer. Names include The Duke of Dazzleton, Miss Lovelace, and Captain Greatgun.
Nothing has been spared on the new site and the horsewalker provides a useful extra opportunity for the horses to stretch their legs.
The indoor school
As well as the indoor school, the ‘Troop’ has access to an outdoor school and a canter track — plus there are nearby paddocks where the horses can be grazed. They are also given stints at grass at the Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray and have recently returned from a well-earned break in Norfolk, where they were exercised on Holkham beach.
With the horses undertaking considerable road work, the forge is in high demand, with the farriers shoeing on average 60 horses a week.
Should there be a veterinary problem, the on-site pharmacy has a digital X-ray machine, weighbridge and padded colic boxes.
The tack room
The unit is on 24 hours’ notice to move for a state funeral, which means the tack cleaning standards are fiercely high.
The trip to Holkham Beach is a highlight for both horses and soldiers during the troop’s month-long stay in Norfolk
At around 8.30am, up to 70 horses head out on morning exercise around the roads of Woolwich — having had their turnout thoroughly inspected first.
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