This year’s Royal Welsh Show will have its usual pomp and ceremony and boast some of the finest animals from across the UK.
But something unique involving the British Army has been "occurring" in Builth Wells during what is the largest agricultural event in Europe – Trooper Emrys Forlan Jones has been promoted.
Trooper Jones, a Welsh mountain pony, serves with 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry) as the Regimental Mascot.
The six-year-old was given due recognition for his service and promoted to Lance Corporal in the Show's Main Ring by Brigadier Alan Richmond OBE, head of the Army in Wales and also Regimental Colonel of the QDG.
“He thoroughly deserves it,” said Farrier Major, Lance Corporal Mark Holland. “He’s amazing.
“Jones hasn’t put a hoof wrong ever since he made his first public appearance for the Regiment at the State Opening of the Welsh Assembly three years ago.” Farrier Major, LCpl Holland
Tpr Jones was recruited from Betty French's Forlan Stud in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in February 2016, and is the QDG’s first mascot after the Regiment sought permission from the Queen. His family line can be traced back to the 19th Century.
The Regiment said they chose a Welsh mountain pony to keep in touch with their Welsh heritage and the tradition of the Welsh Cavalry charging into battle on horseback. British Army units adopting animals as military mascots is a practice dating back to the 18th Century when the Royal Welsh recruited a goat.
The tradition is believed to have started after a wild goat strayed on to the battlefield during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, leading the Royal Welsh Fusiliers' colour party from the field. However, it’s not all ponies, horses and goats. There continues to be a varied and colourful breed of characters serving with other units, including a wolfhound, ram, antelope, bull terrier and even a couple of ferrets.
LCpl Holland said: "It’s a rare thing for promotion to take place away from the Regimental Headquarters and it’s certainly something that’s never happened at the Royal Welsh Show, so to have Jones promoted in front of thousands of people in Builth Wells is very different to the norm."
“Everyone knows Jones at the Royal Welsh. He’s already a celebrity there. When people pass his pen they love seeing him and call out to him. Jones is special, but very nosey, checking out what the other horses are doing at the show. There’s a fascination with mascots being actual soldiers.”
So, what does it take for a Regimental Mascot to gain promotion?
Lieutenant Colonel Justin Stenhouse DSO MBE, Commanding Officer of the QDG, said Tpr Jones was being recognised for his “performance” on parade at numerous events across Wales and the UK, at times in front of thousands of people and also royalty.
Lt Col Stenhouse.“He has been instrumental in raising our profile. His diary is full and he’s often travelling across the country from our current headquarters in Norfolk to Wales. The Farrier Major was recognised this year at our 60th anniversary and was awarded the Regimental Medal. It is therefore only right and proper that Tpr Jones is also recognised for all he has done and I am very pleased that he has been promoted to LCpl. He has met the requirement many times over.”