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Riding the King’s Troop Horses
As an active equestrian and lover of anything horsey, I was delighted to be asked to join the Riding Club London at one of their weekly lessons with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Woolwich Barracks.
This was to be an evening flatwork session with a military instructor from the King’s Troop on their fabulous forward going well-schooled horses, in the purpose-built covered arena within the barrack’s equestrian centre.
I was booked on the Friday session at 7 pm, so we needed to be there for 6.45pm as we had to be checked in at the Guard Room. This is a military base so the necessary security measures are required.
It added to the unique experience for a riding lesson as we had to be let in by an armed guard at the locked gates. We made our way over to the centre and I was stunned by the size and facilities that I saw.
As you can imagine everything was organised in military precision. Even the feeding bowls were stacked neatly along the walkways by each of the blocks of stalls (stables).
There were row upon row of stables blocks all the same and in spotless condition.
I met our instructor, Shaun, for the evening and was shown to the tack room to get ready.
Again, I was fascinated by the kit in the tack room which was full of horsey gear including the full ceremonial tack.
I’m glad I didn’t have to use one of those saddles which are made of hard rigid material. As Shaun explained, comfort doesn’t come into it when you are on parade.
There are no easy options here and everything is very functional down to the army spec blankets.
I met my fellow riders, just four of us, so a small group. All were friendly and chatted passionately about their riding experiences and the interesting times they have had with the Riding Club.
Shaun took us out to meet our horses after checking our riding experience. This is where you want to play down your experience in case you are given a ‘very’ fast going horse! None of them will be plodders, obviously and you need to be able to ride well. Maybe I shouldn’t have said I had my own horse and ride regularly on Wimbledon Common.
I was introduced to ‘Trippy’, one of Shaun’s favourites. He was a fine athletic looking horse with a glint in his eye. I only hoped he didn’t ‘trip’ over or maybe his name suggested something else?
We headed out of the stable block and off to the arena. Maybe Trippy was already testing me as he made a beeline for the hay packets stacked up! He obviously didn’t get any.
I have never seen a sand school arena like this one, well at least I haven’t ridden in one. It was enormous with racked fresh sand and mirrors all around the sides. This is to enable the rider to check their and their horse’s position. However, Trippy liked looking at himself too! He is a real character!
After a final check of the girth and stirrups to ensure all was safe, we started to warm up in open order.
We then trotted around the arena as a group. These horses don’t hang around, well Trippy certainly didn’t. He was very quick and light on his hooves and he didn’t like being at the back behind the less energetic ones.
Shaun decided we were to do some pole work and proceeded to fetch and carry several poles from the store cupboard at the back of the school.
Pole work is a good exercise for improving balance, control and steering and precision in your aids.
We first walked the poles keeping straight and looked straight ahead. The mirrors are so helpful with this.
Then we trotted over the poles. Except that Trippy had other ideas and kept breaking into a canter and dancing over the poles.
He was very excited and energetic so I had my work cut out getting him to calm down and listen to me. After several goes we were working well together and he kept the trot steady. This was also after I had to show him who was boss! After a sharp telling off and a firm correction, Trippy was completely different. What I hadn’t appreciated is that the horses are used to fairly strong treatment from their soldier riders as they have to ‘pull’ them around quite a bit in their troop duties, as Shaun explained. I am used to gentle hands on my horse and had to adjust my style considerably.
I’m glad we ended with a near-perfect execution.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time riding with the King’s Troop Horses in their fabulous facilities.
Thank you to Trippy and Shaun. I learnt a lot about military horses.
As the Riding Club says you get to have some ‘Unique and Extraordinary Experiences’ with them.
Members of the Riding Club London are fortunate to have the opportunity to ride the Household Cavalry and King’s Troop horses. The horses are kept at military bases so this is a very special experience and is only possible due to the relationship and arrangement the club has organised. The Riding Club is the only private entity to ride with these military troops.
Being a member of The Riding Club allows you to take part in special member-only riding lessons at some fantastic locations in and around London.
The Riding Club London is “A membership club organising brilliant events and socials for equine enthusiasts —with the emphasis on fun!”
Set up by its founder when he returned to London from working overseas and couldn’t find anywhere suitable to ride. He also wanted to meet like-minded equestrian loving professionals in London and to help others navigate where to ride with quality horses and instructors.
The Riding Club is a London based membership club bringing together like-minded equine enthusiasts of all levels for fun social and riding events.
They offer a wide variety of riding for members including weekly lessons, weekends away, holidays and unique member-only riding experiences from side saddle to advanced dressage training and Household Cavalry lessons. There is a very active social calendar including themed monthly drinks with special guest speakers, dinners, parties, BBQs and trips to major equine events. Meeting people with similar interests and making new friends is one of the major benefits of becoming a Riding Club member!
The Riding Club is now in its 10th year and has around 300 members. Check out the website for full information on club membership and all the benefits.
A membership club organising brilliant events and socials for
equine enthusiasts —with the emphasis on fun!
020 3589 2385