32 horses from Left Section, The King’s Troop, have been exercised on Woolacombe Beach.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery is Her Majesty The Queen's ceremonial Saluting Battery. It is stationed in King George VI Lines, Woolwich Barracks in London. Known as 'The Troop', it is a mounted unit and all of its soldiers are superb equestrians who are trained to drive a team of six horses that pull the 'thirteen pounder' state saluting gun.
The visit is a vital military and equestrian training exercise which is impossible to deliver in the confines of a London-based barracks. Beach work may look like fun; but it is an essential part of the never-ending work to build trust and confidence between horse and rider.
Not all horses have the confidence to go into the churning surf, especially when the ground beneath their hooves shifts and sinks. But by trusting their rider and overcoming their fears, the bond between the two is made stronger; vital for dealing with the unpredictable during high-profile ceremonial duties back in London.
The King’s Troop is an integral part of the Household Division with duties including: the firing of Royal Salutes in Hyde Park on Royal Anniversaries and State Occasions, Remembrance Sunday, Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday Parade and providing a gun carriage and team of black horses for State and Military funerals.
Since their last visit to the region in July 2011, The King's Troop have taken part in a series of high-profile events including: Trooping the Colour, The Opening of The Invictus Games and Left Section have also taken part in this year's WW1 Remembrance Parades in France.
The King's Troop are also trained as fighting soldiers. Soldiers from the unit deploy on operations in Afghanistan and other conflict zones.
‘This camp is an excellent opportunity for both the horses and soldiers to take a well-earned break from their ceremonial duties in London', says Captain Jack Stamp Left Section Commander, King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
‘The Troop hasn't sent horses to the West Country for a while, but they always enjoy themselves on the region's beaches and what they learn here will make them better prepared for the rigours of their ceremonial duties in London. Members of the public are very welcome to come and see us at our open day.'
Pictures: Crown Copyright 2014 / British Army / Cpl Steve Blake RLC