Royals

Camilla Shares Love Of Horses On Veterans' Rehabilitation Centre Visit

The Duchess of Cornwall met the team at HorseBack UK on a tour of its centre in Aberdeenshire.

The Duchess of Cornwall has indulged her love of horses with a visit to a charity that helps rehabilitate veterans through their work with the animals.

Camilla met the team at HorseBack UK on a tour of its centre by Aboyne in Aberdeenshire near the royals' summer residence at Balmoral.

The charity is marking ten years of assisting former armed forces personnel in need of physical and mental rehabilitation.

Camilla, known as the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, admired an ex-racehorse named Brook and also met miniature horses Pinky and Patrick.

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Camilla told the gathered veterans, mentors and young people: "I'm so impressed with all that you do here.

"Everybody working together as a team, and you get no better team than people working together with horses.

Before leaving the centre, the duchess told staff: "Now I know where you are, I'll be back."

Founder Jock Hutchison, an ex-Marine who served with 45 Commando in Arbroath, Angus, said: "The two most important things [for a horse] are a community, they need to be part of a herd.

"They need purpose, they need a job - and it's no different for us.

"If we look at people and say you can't contribute because you've been hurt, we're missing a big trick."

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The organisation runs three-week residential courses for former service personnel.

They are paired with a horse for the duration of their stay and must build up a relationship of mutual trust.

The veterans are encouraged to develop a deep bond with the animals, which can aid their recovery.

Mr Hutchison, from Dunfermline, Fife, moved to Aberdeenshire with his wife and young family in 2008 with the intention of breeding horses.

He said at that time there were many young people coming back from Afghanistan with life-changing injuries.

Jock Hutchison Horseback UK BFBS

Someone suggested the estate would be a good place for Mr Hutchison and his family to get away to.

The idea for HorseBack UK then followed.

Those who have been supported by the charity have gone on to help deliver the courses themselves.

Veteran and mentor, John Nalepa, said: "[The horses] recognise stuff, so you interact with them.

"We're all ex-service folk here, by and large, so you're back with family.

"There are no prisoners taken, it's a hugely informative and enjoyable experience."