‘Mischievous’ retired King’s Troop horse reunited with former riders

An 18hh gelding who served with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and became known for his “extraordinary” bucks on parade is enjoying a happy retirement where he has been reunited with some of his former riders.

Falstaff retired to the Horse Trust in November 2015 after eight years as an officer’s charger, attending ceremonial parades and taking part in musical drives.

A spokesman for the charity said the gelding is as “mischievous as ever” and has not lost his “quirky ways”.

Credit: The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery

“Even though he’s 18 we still have to try to stay a few steps ahead of him,” he said.

The spokesman said Falstaff enjoyed a special reunion in 2019 when vet Nicola Housby Skeggs joined the charity.

“Nicky and Falstaff go way back as they were partners when Nicky was a captain in the King’s Troop and spent a lot of time riding him. Falstaff is her favourite and it’s so lovely to see them back together again,” he said.

Nicky told H&H both she and her husband rode the gelding on parade.

“He was well loved because of his enormous ears that flopped to the side when he was relaxed and his extraordinary buck that could unseat any rider,” Nicky told H&H.

“It was always exciting to see who would get to ride him on a blanket ride, a flatwork lesson with no stirrups or saddle, as it was rare to see anyone make it through without being covered in riding school surface.”

Nicky said Falstaff was a big character within the troop.

“I’m often asked for updates on him. It’s an absolutely honour to be reunited with him at the Horse Trust in his retirement – although I am often held responsible for his cheeky behaviour,” she said.

“I have told the grooms they should be very proud to receive a nibble from him as he once had a nibble on the Duchess of Cornwall during the official opening of the new barracks at Woolwich.”

Another of Falstaff’s fans is former King’s Troop centre section commander Nick Watson, who rode the gelding during the 2014 ceremonial season.

“The first parade I rode Falstaff at was the Queen’s birthday salute in April 2014,” Nick told H&H.

“He had a habit of very noisily slapping his bottom lip and he could put in a fairly large buck when he wanted to. I wasn’t unseated by him, but he would never do it at a convenient time – on the musical drive as you prepared for the gallop and Falstaff put a buck in it was always a bit of a heart-in-mouth moment but they were always bucks of enjoyment rather than anything malicious.”

Nick added that he received a special surprise for Christmas from his wife Charlotte and newborn son Harry in the form of sponsorship of Falstaff at the Horse Trust.

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“It is nice to follow him through his retirement because you grew an affinity with the horses whether you were riding them regularly or not. The horses in the troop are a big part of your life while you’re working there,” he said.

Jeanette Allen, chief executive of the Horse Trust, told H&H the gelding is “enormously entertaining” to have at the charity.

“He’s a real star and has so much character, it’s a genuine pleasure to care for him in his well-earned retirement, even when he would rather not be caught,” she said.

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