Military Horses set free for holiday frolics

At the end of the Summer Ceremonial Season, the military horses from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are sent to the Leicestershire countryside for a well-deserved rest and recuperation.

2023 has been an exceptional year for the British Army, and our working animals have been front and centre of some of the biggest and most memorable events of our time. Now the hard work is over, everyone has earned a break!

Trooper Dandie of The Life Guards, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, explained:

It is important that the horses are given the opportunity to rest and recuperate during periods when the pace of ceremonial activity lessens. 2023 has been a very busy year and it’s time to give the majority of the horses the opportunity to re-charge their batteries.”

The British Army’s military working horses are ready for their holidays. They have had their metal shoes removed and their tightly clipped coats have been left to grow out. Just after dawn, the horses were led out onto the square at Hyde Park Barracks where the horse boxes were waiting to take them outside the city. 

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Birdsong and fresh air

They travelled north, far from the noise and bustle of London, far from metalled roads and tourist thronged streets. As they neared their destination, they would have recognised that the air was fresher; that the sounds of sirens and traffic were gradually replaced by birdsong and wind rustled leaves. 

Military horse in a horse box waiting to be taken out

As the horse boxes were driven into the Defence Animal Training Regiment estate the excitement built. 

The horses were led off the boxes one by one and their microchips and hoof numbers checked against the military roll by the staff onsite. After a thorough medical by the vets and farriers, the horses were then led to their pastures. 

Military horse being led out of horsebox down the ramp

A warm welcome and a joyful gallop

With whinnies across the rolling fields, fellow military working horses from The Blues and Royals, that had made the journey to freedom last week, rushed to the fence line to greet the new arrivals. 

Military horses in field looking at the new horse to be released with them

As soon as The Life Guards’ horses’ halters were removed and they were let loose in the field, hooves kicked out and they were gone! A roll in the nearest muddy puddle and a galloping lap of joy quickly followed. 

Freedom…and round the clock care

The horses can now look forward to six weeks’ complete freedom to roam in green fields, eating grass, breathing lungs full of clear country air and rolling in mud baths to their hearts content. The horses will be assiduously watched over and cared for by a fantastic team at the Defence Animal Training Regiment in Melton Mowbray. Made up of soldiers from The Household Cavalry and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, this team makes sure they stay safe, healthy and fit during their holiday until it’s time once more to return to duties in London.

black military horse cantering in a green field

It won’t take long for the magnificent beasts that won international acclaim for their gleaming flanks, proud bearing and highly polished hooves at the Coronation or The King’s Birthday Parade to be unrecognisable. Within a matter of weeks their hooves and coats will be naturally rough and mud stained, their manes and tails long and matted. The beasts will make the most of every minute!

Corporal of Horse Jones from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is the Equitation Officer overseeing the mass move to the countryside of horses from The Life Guards in Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge.   He said;

It is important that the horses are given an opportunity to rest and recuperate in the countryside. Moving large numbers of horses out of the city to run free for several weeks also allows the majority of the soldiers in the Regiment to also take some holiday after an incredibly busy and unprecedented year.”

black military horse having fun in a green field

The secret to our soft power success

Our military working horses have an important role in helping to deliver the UK’s soft power and influence globally. As well as mounting the daily King’s Life Guard 24/7 at Horse Guards in Whitehall, this year The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment has also delivered:

  • A dazzlingly impressive Sovereign’s Escort through London for Their Majesties The King and Queen for their Coronation 
  • Daily performances of the Musical Ride at The Royal Windsor Horse Show
  • The Sovereign’s Escort for The King’s first official Birthday Parade, Trooping The Colour 
  • The Musical Ride at the Concours Hippique International Officiel at Aachen in Germany in front of an audience of 20,000 people 
  • An immaculate Sovereign’s Escort down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh for the ceremony of the Presentation of the Honours of Scotland to The King

Horses and soldiers have definitely deserved some downtime after that! 

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