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How to Prepare for a Parade
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How to Prepare for a Parade

The Hard Work Behind The Scenes.

Nо ceremonial happens by magic. Each major parade takes many hours of careful preparation.

Soldiers have to clean all their personal kit. Cuirasses (breastplates), helmets and swords are painstakingly polished. It takes about 45 minutes using Brasso and chalk brushes to clean cuirass and helmet. Buckskins (white leather trousers), gauntlets (long gloves), cross belts, and sword slings are scrubbed down and a layer of white sap (similar to tennis shoe whitener) added. Cleaning jackboots (the tall, black leather boots worn on parade) is hugely time consuming. Hot beeswax is soaked into the leather and then tins of polish are laboriously layered on - many hours of continuous work. Troopers work through the night to get themselves ready for a State visit.

How to Prepare for a Parade

How to Prepare for a Parade

An immense amount of work goes into achieving the exceptional standards on display in a parade.

The soldier also has to prepare his horse, which must be groomed so that it shines. White socks are washed and then chalk is added to make them even whiter. The black pigmentations within a white sock are known as ermine marks - black polish is placed on these marks to make them stand out. The horse's head kit (bridle) and all other leather and metalwork is carefully polished. The horse is then saddled up, head kit put on and hooves oiled.

Over 150 horses are then led on to the parade square and each soldier is helped on to his horse by a storeman, holding the rider's sword to prevent it from damaging the highly polished boots.

Before every escort, the commanding officer and the adjutant inspect the entire regiment to ensure the highest standards of turnout. The inspection takes nearly an hour. To produce the finest mounted ceremonial in the world requires absolute attention to detail and the highest standards at all times.

How to Prepare for a Parade

To ensure the highest standards of turnout, before a major parade the entire regiment forms up beforehand at the barracks for inspection by the commanding officer and adjutant. This in itself takes nearly an hour.

After the escort, the regiment returns to barracks and forms up for the Regimental Dismount. The regiment breaks into four ranks from two. The right-hand man of the whole regiment rides forward to ensure everyone can see him, then on a series of nods and hand signals from the right-hand man, the regiment follows him and dismounts. It is the most efficient and safest way to dismount 160 riders in their cumbersome full State uniforms.

The State uniforms known as Mounted Review Order (MRO) can be awkward and uncomfortable. The combined weight of the horse's equipment and MRO weighs
62 lbs (28 kgs) which can be unforgiving on a hot day in London. So, after four hours in the saddle, the end of a parade is a moment of great relief for both horse and rider.

The farrier`s axe.

Farriers ride on every major parade when they carry highly polished axes. The spike on these was to administer the last rites to badly wounded horses on the battlefield. It was common for scheming soldiers to make money by selling their horses after a battle then pretending they had been killed. To prevent this, horses' hooves were branded with regimental numbers (as they still are today) so that if a horse was killed, the farrier used his axe to remove its hoof as proof of its death.

How to Prepare for a Parade

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