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The Horses (part two)
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The Horses (part two)

Household Cavalry horses are named alphabetically, each year's horses sharing the same initial. For example, Invader, Imogen and India arrived in 2008 and Jubilee, Jenna and Jupiter in 2009.

From arrival to taking part in ceremonial occasions, the average horse takes six months to train.
Varied ceremonial roles demand different characteristics: officers' chargers should be confident enough to lead other horses; troop horses in the divisions need to be able to cope with working closely with others; standard horses must be rock-steady to carry the regimental standards or flags; and band horses calm enough not to bounce musicians around.

The Horses (part two)

Foot reins, clearly visible here, are used by the kettle drummers to control the drum horses.

Drum horses, the largest, are Shire or Clydesdale crosses. Distinctive, with their gold-coated drummers and solid silver kettle drums, they are skilfully controlled by means of 'foot reins' so the drums can be played without reins getting in the way.

The Horses (part two)

Tent pegging is a traditional cavalry sport. A horseman at the gallop tries to spear a small ground target with a sword or a lance.

Household Cavalry horses must be fit. They are exercised early each morning around Knightsbridge on the 'Watering Order', a routine dating from when horses were taken from camp to the nearest water source.

The Horses (part two)

The bond between men and their horses is a strong one.

For three weeks a year, the Mounted Regiment leaves London for Norfolk. Here, horses and soldiers enjoy the countryside, take part in competitions to improve their riding and even go to the beach for a cooling swim. And the horses get holidays too - they are sent 'out to grass' twice a year for a well-deserved break.

The Horses (part two)

A drum horse out to grass' at the Defence Animal Centre in Leicestershire.

Horses generally retire at around 18, but some serve into their 20s. Fit ones go to retirement stables or to members of the public with suitable stabling. Those with ailments that would compromise their quality of life are humanely put to sleep.

The Horses (part two)

Early morning rehearsal.

On 20 July 1982, the Irish Republican Army set off a car bomb in Hyde Park just as the Queen s Life Guard was passing on its way to Horse Guards. Four soldiers and seven horses were killed in the massive blast. Sefton, ridden by Trooper Pederson, was desperately badly wounded, hit by 38 metal nails, one which severed a major vein in his neck. Skilful surgery by the regimental veterinary officer saved his life. He and the other surviving horses were showered with get-well cards, sacks of letters and gifts; sugar, carrots and hay. Sefton became a national hero overnight and attended occasions to raise money for the families of those killed in the explosion. He retired in 1984, eventually dying in a rest home for horses in 1993, aged 30.

The Horses (part two)

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