The Household Cavalry horses have been enjoying a relaxing break from their duties – since the beginning of December – taking time to recuperate at the Defence Animal Training Regiment in Melton Mowbray.
Following two months of running free in the fields of the Leicestershire countryside, the horses have now returned to their usual home of London's Hyde Park barracks.
The troopers of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment now face the task of getting the horses back on track and ready for the King's coronation in May.
- Who are the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment?
- Queen Consort visits Grenadier Guards for the first time as Colonel-in-Chief
- How does the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment prepare for a state visit?
Once the horses' 'holiday' of frolicking in the fields is over, getting them back to their London barracks is an operation in itself.
Personnel are split into three teams.
The first team collects the horses and hands them over to members of the second team who get them ready to be seen by the team of veterinarians.
Finally, the horses' microchips get scanned to make sure that the right horse is going to the right place.
Once all the horses are given the all-clear, they are loaded onto lorries and taken back home to the Hyde Park Barracks.
The horses arrive rested and relaxed – and covered in mud. Once they have been cleaned and meticulously groomed it's time to get back to work.
In a matter of days, the soldiers of the regiment will need to turn the horses from their muddy states to the immaculate standard expected of the Household Cavalry – it's all hands (and hooves) on deck.
According to Equitation Warrant Officer Dan Evans, the horses thrive on routine, and the aim is to get them back to it as soon as possible, as well as get them fit again.
"When they have their rest and when they go away, we do get a little bit of muscle loss," he said.
"So, when they get back we start off on a build-up programme between 10 to 12 weeks."
The drill is to start with a walk, then add weight and work up to a canter.
Preparation and attention to detail will be especially meticulous this year with the added importance of the coronation date to the Household Cavalry's ceremonial duty calendar.