Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery

Today's post is a guest blogger piece by British hobbyist Jennifer Flippance. Enjoy!

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:

Thank you SO MUCH to Jennifer for sharing these wonderful pictures! They are absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed looking at them.


  1. Wonderful pictures and write up! Thanks to both of you!

  2. This horse look so sweet! I think I read somewhere that 17 million horses were killed in WW1.. This may not be completely accurate but it was a phenomenal number.

  3. very, very interesting. The horses have to be very well trained as they could easily escape, back out of, the harness if they wanted to. Thanks so much for the wonderful pictures and information.

  4. I have just come across this while trawling through your blog. Would just like to mention that there is also always one set of black horses - in case they are needed for state funerals! There are also no brakes on those gun carriages - they are slowed and stopped by the rear pair of horses dropping their weight back into the breaching straps. I've been lucky enough to see them in action in their Musical Drive several time and the speed and precision of these guys is breathtaking.