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Royal Horse Artillery exercise in Norfolk

21 September 2017

Almost 100 horses and their riders from The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery have left the noise and confines of London for equestrian and military training in the north Norfolk coast and the rural idyll of Bodney Camp.

A highlight of the training will be when the horses are exercised on Holkham Beach; an amazing spectacle far removed from the unit's day to day activities in the capital.

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, it is a mounted Army unit and 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 visit to Norfolk is a vital military and equestrian training exercise which is impossible to deliver in the confines of a London-based barracks. Beach work in particular 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; and this is vital for dealing with the unpredictable, during high-profile ceremonial duties back in London.

'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 Greg Flynn, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery. 'The Troop hasn't sent horses to Norfolk 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.'

Since their last visit to Norfolk, The King's Troop has taken part in a series of high-profile events including: The Sapphire Jubilee Gun Salute, The Spanish State Visit, Trooping the Colour, The Opening of Parliament, WW1 Commemorative events and Parades in Belgium and France, 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.


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