Navy rider takes on the Arctic

  • Riding across frozen lakes is not normally part of a sailor’s life — unless you are stationed in the Arctic Circle.

    Leading hand (LH) Kayley Smith, 28, from Manchester has been riding since she was five and jumps for the navy team.

    She is currently developing her cold weather warfare skills with her Royal Marines’ unit in Arctic Norway and couldn’t resist taking out local Fjord horses in her time off.

    “The horses are incredibly strong to ride through waist deep snow and nothing fazes them,” she said.

    And hacks are always full of surprises.

    “We came round the corner recently and there was this moose in the middle of the track. I reined in, worried that the moose might spook the horse, but there was no need, he wasn’t bothered at all,” she said.

    “In the end the moose shuffled off and we just carried on.”

    Navy Exercise Aquila 15

    Riding across a frozen lake is another challenge she faced.

    “It was absolutely beautiful, but as we got to the middle, we could see the ice cracking and moving underneath us,” she said.

    “There was nothing we could do about it, we just had to keep going, but the horses didn’t seem to mind at all.”

    “We’re all trained in what to do if we fall through the ice though,” she said.

    The Royal Marines is only British unit equipped to fight in the Arctic.

    “The knowledge and skills needed to fight and survive out here are very different from those of normal soldiering, and it is essential that we continue to come and train in Norway so we are prepared for the next time that we need to conduct operations in this kind of environment,” said a spokesman for 3 Commando Brigade.

    When back home LH Smith’s has set her sights on riding for the Navy at Windsor Horse Show.

    “My horse Major is injured at the moment so I need to get him well again,” she said. “To ride in front of The Queen would be amazing and we’ll be working hard to get there in 2016.”

    H&H recommends wearing a safe hat when riding at all times

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