The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
by Jennifer Flippance
These photos are of the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery based in London. It’s been a purely ceremonial troop since 1947, when all the artillery was mechanised.
There are six horses to a gun limber with a diver for each pair riding the left-hand horse. I seem to recall the position on the rear horse was taken by the most experienced rider. Most of the time they’re controlling two horses in one hand with a whip in the other. They seem to use this to signal back to the riders behind what they’re about to do (e.g. change speed or direction).
The guns are 13-pound field guns. They date back to 1904 and were used extensively by horse artillery in the First World War. Each gun (which is on wheels) is also hitched to a limber (a two wheeled cart) in which the ammunition is stored.
When the guns were in use, the horses would be unhitched and taken about a mile away to safety. Then would come the call – prepare to limber up – and they race back, attach the horses and gallop away. The limbers are hitched with just a hook, so it just takes a few seconds.
The harness was designed with no girth, so if a horse was killed, it would simply fall out of the harness, allowing the others to continue.
The saddles are made by a company that still uses the original wooden seat forming blocks dating back to 1900. This is a Sergeant’s saddle horse.
The horses are colour coded! They are all bay, but each team is made up of horses of a similar shade – dark bay, mid bay, bright bay etc.
When the gun horses are fully trained, they have their mane permanently hogged. The officers' horses are taller and have long manes.
This is just the cutest horse!
Heading into the stables to be untacked.
Close up of the bridles.
A better look at the guns.
Here is a link to a video of the Musical Drive of The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at Olympia 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTcXUnYuIq0
Thank you SO MUCH to Jennifer for sharing these wonderful pictures! They are absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed looking at them.