The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery has hosted a behind-the-scenes tour at Woolwich Barracks to show their training ahead of the London International Horse Show (13-18 December).
The day began with a traditional King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery ‘Form Up’ – a formal inspection on the parade square ahead of daily duties and exercises. A trip to the Official Gun Park – with a talk by Commanding Officer Major John Baileff – followed, where the Troop’s First World War-era QF 13-pounder guns were displayed.
The King’s Troop’s preparations for their display at the London International Horse Show start months in advance, allowing the time required to master the complex manoeuvres seen in the Musical Drive. Troops follow a regimental training schedule that ensures the lead horses, centre horses and wheelers work efficiently together. Amidst their busy military schedules, the Troops practice twice a week at Woolwich Barracks.
During the morning practice, the whole performance team ran through the display, a 13-minute performance which includes complex drills and movements, such as the Big Drive and the Wagon Wheel. Comprising four guns, 26 horses, 14 mounted soldiers and 16 dismounted soldiers, the display demonstrates the talent and skill of the soldiers and equines.
The behind-the-scenes tour also showcased the training the regimental horses. Young horses are trained to harness, by the King’s Troop soldiers themselves. Once they have completed their basic training, young horses – also known as Remounts – are paired with experienced horses to become acclimatised to the sensation of pulling a 13-pounder gun.
The horses’ proficiency is attested in a similar manner to soldiers. Just as soldiers move up the ranks with experience, the horses’ competency and maturity is assessed and those horses that have passed training and performed in two public displays are deemed Military Working Horses.
To conclude the day, the inner workings of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Tailor’s Shop were revealed, and Sergeant Major Colton, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Master Tailor gave insight into her role.
Sergeant Major Colton has been in this position for nearly 10 years – she was the first female Master Tailor ever appointed in the British Army and is responsible for overseeing the correct dressing and turn-out of the whole regiment in key duties and performances.
“It is a real privilege to be performing at London International Horse Show this year and a fantastic opportunity for the public to see the skill of the Troops and Horses up close in this format,” said WO2 Gostling, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Equitation Instructor.
“It takes a lot of time to get the Troops up to the standard required to perform in such a fast paced, regimental sequence – so we will continue to train over the coming months, alongside our everyday roles, to make sure we are foot perfect for the show”.
Lead image credit: London International Horse Show/Alex Treadway