Hundreds of people have been turning out to see the horses and soldiers of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) during their recent visit to Cornwall.
The spectacular sight of the horses galloping along some of the most beautiful beaches in England has become something of an annual highlight for locals and holidaymakers alike.
Around 30 horses and 30 soldiers from both Right and Left Section of The King’s Troop deployed to farms near Polzeath and Camborne respectively last week.
Mums and dads on the school run briefly parked their cars in passing places and on grass verges to hurriedly take photographs of Right Section as it made its way through Polzeath to the enormous beach along Cornwall’s narrow winding country lanes.
Almost 100 people in all were treated to the spectacular site of the soldiers and horses being put through their paces during the summer training camp.
Normally based in St John’s Wood in London, The King’s Troop is an integral part of the Household Troops with duties including: the firing of Royal Salutes in Hyde Park on Royal Anniversaries and State Occasions, Remembrance Sunday, Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Parade and providing a gun carriage and team of black horses for State and Royal funerals.
One of the most important reasons for the visit to Cornwall is to give the horses a well-earned break from these ceremonial duties and to take them for a gallop on the beach… and a swim in the sea.
The visit also forms an integral part of the ongoing training of soldiers and horses with opportunities to practice horsemanship on the beaches - the horses are ridden bareback - as well as to expose the horses to unfamiliar surroundings and - no doubt - the close attention of the public during planned open days:
For both the soldiers and horses, the camp is an excellent training opportunity and I can speak for the whole of my Section when I say the support from the public has been breathtaking,” said Captain Toby Haughey RHA, Right Section Commander.
For many of the young horses it was the first time they had seen the sea and it took courage and a strong jockey for them to fight their way through five feet of crashing surf.
It was quite a challenge for the new recruits to the Section, with neither saddles or stirrups, they needed a calm nerve to stay on top whilst galloping across the beach; something which is sure to give them a huge amount of confidence when they return to ceremonial duties in London.
One of the horses being exercised was ‘Harlequin’, a five-year-old Cleveland Bay. Harlequin was given to The Troop by Her Majesty the Queen following their performance at Windsor Castle Royal Tattoo in May 2010.
Her Majesty was reunited with Harlequin in June 2011 during a visit to The King’s Troop Barracks in London.