King Charles

Londoners' surprise as more than 50 Army horses trot down residential streets

Watch: The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery suprised residents in north-west London by exercising the Troop's horses down their street (Video: David Wells / Forces News).

Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery gave Londoners quite a surprise when they paraded dozens of their horses down residential streets to give them some exercise ahead of their ceremonial Trooping the Colour duties.

Neighbours in one street in West Hampstead, north-west London, were astonished to see about 25 personnel from the Troop on horseback trotting down their street with more than 50 other riderless horses from the Troop on Friday morning.

The Troop has been preparing for Trooping the Colour, the biggest highlight in the British military's ceremonial calendar, and which will this year mark King Charles' first as sovereign, on 17 June, with the Colonel's Review, a review and rehearsal conducted by the Prince of Wales, taking place this weekend, on 10 June.

Giving the horses a good run out often takes place before such ceremonial duties, in what is known as a Watering Order, and the Troop are understood to also exercise the horses in quieter areas, including residential streets, to get them used to the roads and heat ahead of their role on Saturday.

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery exercise their horses in a London street
Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery were seen giving their horses some exercise in a residential London street on 9 June, ahead of the Colonel's Review on 10 June.

One onlooker who lives in the street in London said: "It was quite a sight to see, quite a spectacle.

"I've lived here for a few years now and never seen anything quite like it, a parade of military horses on our doorstep.

"We occasionally see mounted police riding a couple of horses down the street, but the sight and sound of dozens of military horses trotting down the road was magnificent. Such a rare treat."

When exercising the horses like this, the Troop tend to be Forward Mounted, meaning they set up temporary stables in central London, so they do not have to return the distance to their barracks in Woolwich.

Historically, a Watering Order would be an hour-long exercise for off-duty horses which would end with the horses being watered at nearby inns.

Claridge's, London's famous hotel in Mayfair, London, is known to have kept the tradition going, providing refreshments to passing troopers and horses.

Trooping the Colour is a ceremonial celebration of the current British monarch's birthday, also known as the King's Birthday Parade, and takes place at Horse Guards Parade in London.

Trooping the Colour reviewed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will be identical to Trooping the Colour reviewed by the King, with the exception that some additional mounted officers ride when the King is present.

More than 1,400 soldiers of the Household Division and the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, including 400 musicians from the Massed Bands, will be taking part in the ceremony, all of whom will parade on Horse Guards for the second of two formal reviews.

The Colonel's Review, conducted by Prince William, will include 250 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards and, for the first time, the 1st Battalion London Guards (the Foot Guards' Reserve Unit), who will line the processional route along The Mall.

This year, it is the turn of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards to 'troop their colour'. A different regimental colour (flag) is trooped each year and members of the five Foot Guards regiments take it in turns to lead the parade each year.

According to the Household Division's website: "During the ceremony, the King is greeted by a Royal Salute and carries out an inspection of the troops. After the massed bands have performed a musical 'troop', the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks."

The Household Division forms part of the British Army's London District and is made up of five regiments of foot guards and the Household Cavalry.  

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