This morning we enjoyed a surprise visit from The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery gunners who came to exercise their horses. Stabled at RAF St Mawgan the horses have come from their usual home at Woolwich, London to concentrate on some specific horse and rider training.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery’s primary role is one of ceremony and is made up of 111 horses. They are a mounted unit of the British Army where the soldiers are superb equestrians and trained to drive a team of six horses that pull the First World War ‘thirteen pounder’ state saluting guns.
Its duties include the firing of royal salutes, providing a gun carriage and supplying a team of black horses for state and military funerals. The Troop performs the duties of the Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guards for one month each year and they are renowned for their impressive Musical Drive performance at every Royal Tournament that can be seen at shows around the country including the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Many of the manoeuvres of the Musical Drive have remained unchanged since it was first performed in 1897.
The King’s Troop also has an operational role as part of our territorial defence. Both men and women are trained as fighting soldiers and six are currently deployed at any one time. When the Army mobilises, the King’s Troop provides HGV drivers who deliver ammunition to artillery units around the battlefield.
Each year the horses and soldiers come to a beach – away from work and their ceremonial dress and uniform – to undergo intensive equestrian training, the sort which they would not be able to do in London. Many of the horses will never have seen the sand or the sea before and it can be very unnerving for the horses. The exercise builds great trust between the horse and rider, trust which is essential in other areas of their duties. They also enjoy other activities like show jumping and dressage skills, testing both horse and rider in different environments to which they feel comfortable.