“He is the right size and shape and World Horse Welfare has been kind enough to loan him to us,” said Corporal of Horse Jamie Broom of the Blues and Royals.
“We hope his conformation is correct and he will be able to do the job. The training is tough and asks a lot of the horse — not every potential drum horse successfully passes training.”
Horses need to get used to noise, flashing lights, loud drums, heavy weights and the public while being ridden with foot reins. They also need to be able to stand very still.
The regiment currently has two drum horses — Spartacus and Achilles — while Agamemnon and Celt are trainees. Digger will be given a more auspicious name in due course.
The seven-year-old gelding weighs 802kg and arrived at the charity’s Belwade Farm in Aberdeenshire in 2008 when his owner could no longer care for him.
Eileen Gillen, Belwade centre manager, said: “His enormous size and the fact that he was only young and still growing were causing problems with the joints in his hindlegs.
“It took surgery and many months of rehabilitation before he was well enough to start work. I always had high hopes for him, but never dreamt he’d have a royal calling.”
Digger travelled to the Household Cavalry’s Knightsbridge barracks on 31 March, where he will be assessed.
Once settled into his new home, Digger will begin a two-year training programme.
Captain Michael Fry added: “The regiment is always on the look out for potential new drum horses. We need calm, solid horses that are strong enough to take 90lb drums and a 200lb-plus rider on top.
“Our drum horses need to be at least 17hh and are normally an eye-catching colour.”
If anyone has a suitable horse, they can contact the regimental Riding Master, tel: 020 7414 2529.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (8 April, ’10)