Royal Horse Artillery exercise in Norfolk

Almost 100 horses and their riders from The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery have left the noise and confines of London behind and headed to the North Norfolk Coast for equestrian and military training.

Today 19 horses were treated to the adventure of learning to swim in the sea - a real test of agility and courage that bizarrely makes them better mounts on ceremonial duties in London. The equine exercises on Holkham Beach are always a real highlight for visitors and locals. 

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery is Her Majesty The Queen's ceremonial Saluting Battery firing Gun Salutes for state occasions and Royal birthdays. Stationed in King George VI Lines, Woolwich Barracks in London, all of its soldiers are superb equestrians who are trained to drive teams of six horses that pull six First World War 'thirteen pounder' state saluting Guns. The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery gunners are also trained as fighting soldiers. Soldiers from the unit deploy on operations around the world when required. Uniquely in the Army, the unit is currently 50% female.

The annual visit to Norfolk is a vital military and equestrian training exercise which the unit would struggle to deliver in the confines of a London-based barracks. Beach work may look like fun; but 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 sky is as grey as the “ground” and the horizon’s moving. Worse is the uncertainty of experiencing the sands beneath their hooves shifting and sinking. But by trusting their rider and overcoming their fears, the bond between the two is made stronger; and this is vital for dealing with the unpredictable, during high-profile ceremonial duties back in London.

‘This trip is an excellent opportunity for both the horses to take a well-earned break from their ceremonial duties in London', says Major Harry Wallace, Commanding Officer of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery. 'The Troop always enjoys themselves on the region's beaches and what they learn here will make them better prepared for the rigours of the ceremonial duties to come this Autumn in London.

what they learn here will make them better prepared for the rigours of the ceremonial duties to come this Autumn in London

With the Dutch State Visit, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, and the Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday celebrations we’re going to be busy!’

Since their last visit to Norfolk, The King's Troop has taken part in a series of high-profile events including: The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Trooping the Colour, the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Royal Welsh Show, and undertaken the rigorous daily Queen's Life Guard duties in the summer to allow the Household Cavalry Regiment to leave London for their own equestrian training.