Thursday, 16 January 2014

O the wild charge they made!

Last night I went to the Household Cavalry Barracks to watch a Riding Club London lesson.

For those of you who don't know, the Household Cavalry are the Queen's personal bodyguard with ceremonial duties which include trooping the colour.  They have barracks on Knightsbridge Road, opposite Hyde Park, where no less than 250 horses are kept!  Members of the Riding Club London may join lessons on these horses.  I went along to watch one...

Mounting of the Guard (me on the right) (joke)

Mounted bands: trooping of the colour

The entrance to the barracks is a curious little gate set in a wall on Knightsbridge Road.  Having signed in, I suddenly felt too shy to ask for directions so ran off with no idea where anything was.  Turns out the barracks are Quite Big and what I think is my "excellent innate sense of direction" is actually "no sense of direction at all".

Strange neighbours for Harvey Nicks!

Anyway, I followed my nose to the stables and was immediately struck - these horses are not just Quite Big but Very Huge.  Presumably because they have to carry mounted soldiers in full ceremonial dress?  It was funny to see some of the smaller riders next to their mounts!

Victoria and the aptly named Colossus

The horses were all very interested in the goings on...  

Who, me?

This pretty mousey bay was so excited at the prospect of a ride he did a little dance in his stable!


Once in the school, the horses seemed to feel the light weight of their riders and, well, frolicked!  I thought of what someone once said: it's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.  And felt a bit vicariously nervous.  

The school

I couldn't hear an awful lot of what the teacher (Steve) was saying from behind the glass of the balcony but I liked his manner and all the riders I spoke to thought he was excellent.  Perhaps his magic touch was inspired by the (large) coffee Katharine delivered to him before the lesson began!  ;)

Tim, Katharine (who runs the Riding Club) and Lizzie keeping me company on the balcony

After the lesson, everyone trooped back to the stables.

Happy Aqaba and Ada

Yes, I have my own guard to wash me

Out of nowhere, some soldiers appeared and although they were very self-contained and kept out of our way, they obviously loved and knew the horses.  Colossus seemed to be a particular favourite with all these tough guys...  I could see why - no word of a lie, he offered me his hoof just like a dog!

Well hello, Mister!

I can't wait to come back and ride!  Thanks Katharine!