Every year the Household Cavalry holidays in Norfolk, my home county. The annual paddle in the sea at Holkham is a press favourite, but not so many people know about the show they hold in Thetford. I went for the first time last Saturday with Mum and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, even if we were too tuckered to stay for the musical ride at the end. Imagine the world’s friendliest gymkhana – not a Pony Club mother in sight – and you will get the spirit of it.
There was showjumping, tentpegging, a lively sidesaddle display from the Flying Foxes (who made one of the soldiers try life aside – cue wolf whistles and a royal wave from the gentleman in question) and a chance to meet the gee-gees. Big bags of carrots were for sale and members of the public were encouraged to wander round the stables, stuffing treats into the horses. It must be hell for the grooms on Monday, but boy was it fun for us and the blacks, the greys and the giant roan drum horses.
We met Merlin (in the video he’s Mercury) and I’ve included photos of his saddle hangings, which list all the battles in which the regiment has been engaged. Note that Merlin is a bona fide drum horse, ie he carries drums for the British Army. Recently some enterprising folk in America have decided to breed and sell “Royal Drum Horses” and I wish the Queen would sue the pants off them. I also wish more shows recruited tentpeggers – the thrill of seeing three horses line up abreast and charge as their riders angled lances or swords for the narrow peg was quite something. I fell in love with a doughty and rangey “cavalry black” called Dreadnought, who won both the showjumping competitions. Bags Dreadnought when he retires.