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The Royal Windsor Horse Show and Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Celebrations

by Major A G R Owen, The Blues and Royals

W

hen we were told we would be sending two divisions, the Musical Ride and the Mounted Band, to Windsor for the HMQ90 celebrations it was viewed as a sort of working summer camp; potted sports and squadron socials even came into conversation. Oh how foolish we were. The last time such an undertaking had occurred was for the Diamond Jubilee Horse Power pageant in 2012 and the memories of that rain lashed mud bath clearly hadn’t survived into the corporate memory for four years. It is easy to forget how many frictions can be caused by the simple act of transplanting a mounted ceremonial unit away from its custom made cleaning rooms, tack rooms and stables and putting them under canvas in a field. With blue skies and overflowing optimism, we arrived in Windsor the weekend before the pageant and tried to settle in before moving back to London for Cavalry Memorial Sunday. On the Monday, nursing sizeable hangovers, we started rehearsals with ITV for the televised evening performance at the end of the week. However, soon the clouds assembled and the sky darkened and within the hour 150 men and horses were sitting in lashing rain waiting for cameraman 4 to sort his life (or his man-bun) out. We stayed this way for the better part of 7 hours and thus began a theme that ran through the next two days of rehearsals. Morale was lost somewhere in the hoof-sucking, ankle deep quagmire around the stables, and thick Royal Estate mud made a swift march onto all and every bit of state kit, uniform, skin and horse. I am not wont to being overly melodramatic, but the Regiment started to take on a distinctly 1916 vibe.

Some kit evades the relentless march of mud in the cleaning tent

In true Household Cavalry fashion, the men endured it with a Blitz-like stoicism. They were the first to arrive at the grounds in the morning and the last to leave (some 17 hours later). When the author commented on the lack of rest, the men were getting in a tent cluttered with boxes, kit and tack, WO2 (SCM) Sampson, remarked, “Don’t worry sir, they’re so knackered they could sleep on a chicken’s lip”. How true this was. An unexpected respite arrived on the Wednesday, the dress rehearsal day, when the rain reached such a climactic torrent that the Horse Show and rehearsal were both cancelled with the order going out banning all troop and horse movement at the ground. Dawn broke on Thursday morning with a patchwork hint of blue sky to come. Bussed from Combermere Barracks down to the show ground, the troops

The boys can sleep on a chicken’s upper lip. Tpr Bath rests his eyes

arrived to find 150 steaming, soggy and sore-footed horses awaiting a watering order through Her Majesty’s back garden. As we trotted out to the

Tpr Bridger RHG/D helps a LG on top. Hours of preparation went into ensuring the men were immaculate at Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Celebrations at Windsor, including extensive work by the ‘brushers down’ once mounted’

Tpr Metcalfe asks Mr Penrose the secret to cleaning kit

Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment ■ 51

Household Cavalry Journal 2016  
Household Cavalry Journal 2016  
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