The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery equestrian exercise in Woolacombe

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery has left the noise and confines of London for equestrian and military training in the rural West Country.  It’s the first time they have visited the area with its scenic beaches and combes (wooded valleys) for three years. 32 horses from Left Section, The King’s Troop, will be staying in the area until Sunday 22 September.

The horses have been exercising on Woolacombe Beach; an amazing spectacle far removed from the units day to day activities in the capital. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery is Her Majesty The Queen’s ceremonial Saluting Battery. Stationed in King George VI Lines, Woolwich Barracks in London, it is a mounted unit and all of its soldiers are superb equestrians who are trained to drive teams of six horses that pull the six First World War ‘thirteen pounder’ state saluting guns.

The visit is a vital military and equestrian training exercise which is impossible to deliver in the confines of a London-based barracks. Beach work may look like fun but it is an essential part of the never-ending work to build trust and confidence between horse and rider. Not all horses have the confidence to go into the churning surf, especially when the ground beneath their hooves shifts and sinks. But by trusting their rider and overcoming their fears, the bond between the two is made stronger; essential for dealing with the unpredictable during high-profile ceremonial duties back in London.

The Troop is holding a public open day on Saturday 20 September at their temporary stables in the grounds of Mount Edgcumbe Park from 10:30 - 16:00 to thank the local community for hosting them during their stay. The open day will include horsemanship performances and informal mounted displays by Right Section, The King’s Troop RHA between 12:00 and 14:00.

Photographer: Corporal Steve Blake; Crown Copyright