Two cheeky ponies joined a host of other VIPs as the Army’s regimental animals and their handlers met for the first ever mascot training camp.
Shetland pony Corporal Cruachan IV — famous for his brushes with members of the royal family — was joined by Trooper Emrys Forlan Jones, the Welsh mountain pony of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, as well as drum horse Alamein, of The Queen’s Royal Hussars, and five other mascots.
The two-week training camp was held at the Defence Animal Training Regiment in Melton Mowbray in September.
The aim was to promote the wellbeing of the mascots and for the handlers to learn from animal training and veterinary specialists of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.
Farrier Major Mark Holland, who handles Trooper Jones, said the camp was “really beneficial”.
“Trooper Jones can be cheeky, but he’s good — he keeps you on your toes,” said Major Holland.
“He had never met the other mascots, apart from [goat] Fusilier Shenkin IV.
“It’s been a good experience, not just for us as the handlers to come together in one place, but also for the mascots to come together and get used to being around each other on parade.
“It has not only reinforced the knowledge we already have, but we’ve also learnt some new things that have helped us all and that can be implemented into our working routine and our exercise programmes.”
Army equitation instruction, Corporal Major Daniel Powell who helped organise the training, added it was a great chance for the handlers to learn from each other.
“Some of the handlers have been looking after their regimental mascots for years and others for just a few months, so passing on knowledge and experience has been valuable,” he said.
The gathering also included goats Fusilier Shenkin IV and Fusilier Llywelyn, Irish wolfhounds Corporal Domhnall and Ranger Brian Boru X, and ram Private Derby XXXII.
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Awards were presented following the final parade, inspected by Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Williams MC, commanding officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Major Holland was presented with the “top student” accolade, while Cruachan IV was crowned champion mascot.
The Mercian Regiment, of whom Derby XXXII is mascot, took both the best premises and smartness and bearing titles, with best animal welfare going to the Royal Irish and the public relations accolade claimed by the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.
“It’s been very interesting and a good way of sharing knowledge and learning from each other,” said Ram Major Philip Thornton, who together with Ram Orderly Lee Bradbury handles Private Derby XXXII.
“And a massive well done has to go to Private Derby on winning the award for smartness and bearing. We are very proud of him.”
The mascots have now returned to their regiments to continue with ceremonial duties.
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