At The Royal Tournament in 1882 a mounted display team from the Household Cavalry performed a series of manoeuvres to music. This display became known as the Household Cavalry Musical Ride and has been performing to the British public, and sometimes abroad, ever since.
The performance is designed to demonstrate the type of horsemanship used by the Regiment in the days when it still fought on horseback. Drills which practice battlefield and ceremonial manoeuvres are carried out to music and focus on precise timing, coordination and dressing to ensure that different components are all working together for one purpose.
Eight soldiers from each of the Life Guards and The Blues and Royals form the core of the ride, dressed exactly as they are for full state ceremonial events – the only difference is that they carry lances instead of swords. Training for each show begins at least a month in advance, on top of the five month riding course required of each man to be admitted to the Regiment.
With them ride four men dressed in the stable-wear of the 1820s, which, although appearing very formal today, was then considered quite relaxed. The uniforms allow a little more flexibility, as it is these riders who perform such skills as laying the horses down and standing up on the saddles. Laying horses down used to be done in battle to conceal and protect cavalry units from enemy gunfire and to allow a stable firing platform for the rider.
Another feature is the musicians. The drum horse usually carries silver drums which weigh 52kg and is constantly surrounded by noise; it takes five years to train him to get used to it all. The four state trumpeters used to communicate orders across the battlefield and still ride the grey horses which helped to mark them out in the melee.
The soldiers of the Household Cavalry are unique across the world in that they are the only mounted ceremonial soldiers who also serve as fighting soldiers on operations. Many of the men may have returned to the Armoured Regiment in Windsor, from which they may be sent on operations around the world. The self-discipline they have honed throughout their arduous riding training will then be tested to its ultimate limit
Every event at which the Household Cavalry Musical Ride performs is uniquely tailored to the venue and requirements. In the past we have travelled as far afield as the United Arab Emirates, and within the UK we have performed up and down the country at horse shows, country fairs, and private events.
For more information on booking the Household Cavalry Musical Ride to appear at your event, please refer to the PDF document below, and contact the Musical Ride Officer for availability and an estimation of the costs involved.
Discover the Household Cavalry Museum
10am – 6pm, April to October / 10am – 5pm, November to March / Last admission 45 minutes before closing.