HAC Journal Article, Autumn 2005

The first months of the year are always the bleakest. The wind and the rain…the rain it raineth every day… WS

There were some highs and lows.

It appears that the Light Cavalry had won a secondary prize of a days hunting with the Cotswold Hunt, after their success in winning the Military Cup at the Hunt’s Cross Country Event. They had quite properly, had it passed on to the Active Unit, and via the organising skills of Henry Farrow { 3 Squadron} five young members of the Regiment (Henry, together with Giles Clark, William Murray, Jamie Wallace and Edmund McMahon Turner) paraded for a days hunting with those Hounds.

The day they chose was fortunate, as it involved a proper old fashioned Hunt breakfast (including whisky) at the Peasdown Inn, on the A40. The Regimental riders, having hired, or borrowed local horses, paraded in full fig, correctly dressed for hunting, under the critical eye of the Remount Officer, Light Cavalry, who is elderly, short sighted, and deaf from gunfire. As he watched his charges ‘debus’ from their horse transport he was heard to address one young gentleman, somewhat forcibly, as to his dress, conduct etc. Whilst this wretch complied with the instructions, quite properly, it subsequently appeared that he was a ‘civilian’ hirer, having a day out with Hounds. He later expressed some interest in joining the HAC!

The gentlemen of the HAC were encouraged, by their host, the senior Master, to observed the first ‘draw’ which was exactly on the far side of the main A40 from the pub. This proving blank, the hunt moved off, and were greeted by several hundred thumbs up, or similar positive signs, by almost all the motorists held up, temporarily, by this invasion of the Queen’s Highway. Such is the enthusiasm for the ban on hunting! Well done YouGov, I think you might have got this one right. We suspect there will still be something to do in the autumn.

Anyhow the ‘boys’ jumped some fences, some for the first time ever, saw a fox, or two, watched the hounds working, and even dismounted without permission. By two thirty, after a quick ‘thing’ of about twenty minutes they were mainly tired, and somewhat dismayed to find they had an hour’s hack back to the lorries. Nevertheless a good time was had by all. We are most grateful to Roy Cooper, the senior Master of the Cotswold Hunt, for his generosity, and to Captain and Mrs Waters for both the loan of a horse for the day, and for providing the tea and whisky afterwards. Apparently the evening continued in the Hollow Bottom, a local hostelry, until the small hours!

You, dear readers, must remember that we have all ‘Been’, and ‘Seen’ and indeed, have been ‘Soldiers of the Queen’. To this end it was a privilege to be involved in Op TELIC 5. No, we did not have to sharpen our sabres, we will if called, but ………

We had a very detailed briefing on the Regiment’s role in Iraq, from Johnny Longbottom, Welfare Officer par excellence, and afterwards we asked what we could do to help. Apart from sending a cheerful Christmas card to the boys out there, which seems to have been received, we were asked to provide a venue and recreation for the wives and families of the young people, of whom we are inordinately proud, who have gone out to protect us from ‘the Axis of Evil’. Easy, really – Windsor, cup of coffee, nice horses, and free riding for those that ‘would rather like to try’. We hope those that enjoyed the fun will return for more of this, perhaps next time with their loved ones. They are after all the Company’s Horses!

From joy to sadness. Our long serving trumpeter Tony Scuse, passed away, suddenly, during a camping holiday in March. Our sympathies go to his family. We gave him the traditional, dare we say it, ‘military’, send off that we do for our own. The publican of his local, said he had never had such a good day, ever. Such is the consumption of the arme blanche on these, and all, occasions.

Our intrepid cross country team have been out and about, with some small success.

At the Heythrop Hunt event Gareth Thomas set off, leading the team at such a cracking pace, that the commentator said he thought this looked like a winning time. Pride comes before a fall. Three quarters of the way round, the Cornet, and Officer’s Charger O’Brien, attempted the water fence so boldly, or badly, that they both submerged. Fortunately the Surgeon was just behind, not to save the drowning unfortunates, but to take up the running time; as it is the time of the third horse that counts. Even so all four finished the course with a good time of 5.01 minutes, placing us 8th overall, and winning the Heavyweight prize. The cornet is transferring to the Special Boat Service, and was seen taking instruction from Mrs Waters as how to jump the fence the following day, until he got it right!

Two weeks later at the Berks and Bucks Blood Hounds, where the ‘professional riding’ of the team was noted by the commentator, the day was again saved by the determined and risky riding of the Surgeon, aka the Vice President of the Court of Assistants, who cut a few seconds off the final time, at the last fence, to give us, again, a plausible 8th place. With over a hundred team entries at each event, this is passable, considering the considerable age of some of the riders. But we would seem to need faster horses and younger men to win outright. Come on boys.

The Aston Martin Owner’s Club persuaded us, for endless gold, (or enough to feed a horse for two months) to “embellish their Centenary Parade in the grounds of Windsor Castle”. The fact the Captain General had expressed some interest in this project, and might even be present, sharpened our ardour, shine, and turnout. Originally it was deemed proper that, in the environs of her home, the visiting ‘motors’ should have a proper military escort, and who better that ‘Her Light Cavalry’, as the BBC would have it.

The Chief of Police, recovering from the shock and awe of a Royal Wedding, could not conceive the idea of a dozen horses trampling, and dunging, over the cobbles of sacred Windsor and, having done a ‘risk assessment’, he decided it was ‘a bridge to far’. He probably goes abroad and has a baby when the Household Cavalry turn up. Anyhow we were binned. Brakeless elderly Astons swept through the Town to the Private Park. However ‘Someone’ prevailed, and the parade was led by St George, {aka Sgt Instructor Paul Allison} riding our own Osaka. Troop Horse Osaka, being grey, and perhaps not the easiest ride, looking as though he expected the Dragon to appear from every side street, entered into the spirit of the thing, producing the stunningly artistic photo reproduced in the Daily Telegraph.

We received the motors in the Private Park, and enlivened the proceedings with a first-class Side Saddle display by our supporting lady riders; a tent pegging display; and an excellent ‘Recruit Ride’ given by our new HCMR friend Staff Corporal Major Des Payne .Due to Health and Safety, Insurance, and other thingamadiddlys we had to pass him off as a ‘civilian’ instructor’. Oh dear! O Tempora O mores! All this effort was for nought, severals noughts, from the generous Aston Martinis - and to our great joy, and honour, the Captain General herself came down and spoke to St George, patted a rather embarassed Troop Horse Osaka, and said, in general, what fine chaps ‘Her Light Cavalry’ (BBC and Palace speak) were. (Photo)Aston Martin Owners Club 2005

The guarding season is upon us. Our dedicated dismounted gentlemen spend hours protecting the Monarch, literally, from those who, uninvited, would wish to join Her Majesty in the Royal Box at the Smith’s Lawn Polo - a seriously important task, without charge, wage, or even a sandwich or glass of water! The long hours of duty, which also requires watching the mounted lot rank past, do not, however, go unnoticed by the Royal Family. Generous remarks filter back. (But, oh for a glass of bubbly, Ma’am!)

One of the pleasures of guarding is guessing how the announcer will introduce us. Last time it was as “the oldest cavalry regiment”; this time we were “formed in 1678”, and were affiliated to the “Honourable Artillery Company of St. Johns Wood!” Despite the briefing notes provided at each event they still seem to make it up on the hoof.

When ‘invited’ to the possibility of doing endless duties of a similar kind, which also involved the horses, at the Windsor Three-day Event, we said that, costs being what they are, there would have to be a small honorarium. A few hundred pounds was suggested, but not accepted. They must have spent a great deal more on the ‘civvie’ guards who were trying, ineffectually, to control the crowds, protect the Royal Box and all. They also lost out on the glory our presence.

At the Royal Windsor Horse Show, ‘St George’, with Osaka, this time more properly in Full Dress took part in the Tent pegging competition. I fear more practice is needed, as he/we were only sixth, but there were a strong entry from all units including the Police. Well done Paul. Perhaps they will want us next year!

The Mess supper in the newly refurbished Ante Room saw scenes of unparallel debauchery in May. The Confrerie du Sabre D’Or, a French champagne loving organisation whom we guard annually at their ‘do’ at the Dorchester, seem to have taken rather a shine to us. Anyhow there was a lot of knocking off of the corks of bottles with sabres - theirs, not ours, fortunately - and the group of splendid Chelsea Pensioners, our guests, had tears in their eyes saying they ‘ad’n’t ‘ad so much fun since Armistice night,’ or whatever!. Anyhow a good time was had by all. There are numerous unpaid mess bills still to be settled for quantities of bubbly consumed! So much owed by so few……!

Back in March rumours began to circulate that something was afoot concerning the NCOs. Officers went about with worried looks, wearing side-arms, and keeping a saddled horse in the stable. Memories of Meerut? (For the uninitiated, the 3rd Light Cavalry mutinied at Meerut in 1857, slaughtering their officers, and starting the Indian Mutiny.) However all turned out well, as it appeared that David Jeffcoat had asked them and their ladies to a lunch party at his house. We understand that a lot of claret was consumed, and a good time had by all. Thanks David. Sorry not to be there.

Finally a word must be said about the horses at Flemish Farm. Currently twelve in number, it must be remembered that they are the Company’s horses, and they are there to be ridden. Should you wish to ride a horse, or need a lesson, or two, we really just ask you to book well in advance. Ring Caroline on 01753 622291 to book.

For those with a military bent we shall be starting a Long Cavalry Course, with Household Cavalry instruction, at the beginning of October. There are a few places left, so if you can spare a day or evening, or two - actually thirty weeks - come and learn to ride properly, with a sword! This is open to any member, or very immediate family. Don’t miss the chance. Limited spaces. There is also a Side Saddle ride – ladies, come and try. If you are really good enough you might get a place in the quadrille.

Gentlemen - Make Much of Your Horses


Note: Pictures of some of these activities can be found in the Photo Galleries on the Light Cavalry website. Click here to close this window and return to the main web site.