of the Blues & Royals Squadron, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

The Blues and Royals were formed in 1969 from an amalgamation
of the Royal Horse Guards (Blues) and The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons).

The Household Cavalry were recruiting 30 new cavalry horses this year (2012) with each horse needing a name.
The Army sets a letter of the alphabet for each year and this year's letter is M. So all the horses needed to be given a name beginning
with the letter 'M'.
The regiment opened a public voting list. Once voting closed, the most popular names, along with some names chosen by the regiment were chosen, including “Majesty” and “Middleham” from the Public vote and “Musa Qaleh” and “Magpie” from the regiment.

One of Middleham's Town Councillors, Councillor Byford, proposed "Middleham" as a name for one of these horses thinking it would be great to have a link between Middleham and it's equine history and industry of racing and this famous, high profile regiment. This would be a relationship between our town and community and the Household Cavalry that will last for the horses entire service life, perhaps 15 years or longer and would be a super opportunity to publicise Middleham's equine industry, with history through the Castle; as a place to visit and, who knows, perhaps we can arrange occasional meetings between racehorses from our yards and "our" cavalry horse e.g. at Royal Ascot?   The average career for a cavalry horse is 16 to 18 years after which they are retired.

Having served in the Royal Military Police Mounted Troop, Councillor Byford knows just how many public appearances (e.g. at the Great Yorkshire Show), website photographs and other publicity opportunities there are with army horses on display. There could be regular links with our school and "their" army horse, even a visit to see him/her in barracks in London - lots of opportunities, in fact.

The Story so Far

Trooper Middleham
(Photo by permission of MoD)

Young Trooper Middleham passed his parade tests with flying colours, but he didn't pass the eagle eye of the chief vet who spotted that this big Irish part thoroughbred (and quite a lot of something else) is not the six year old he was thought to be but is in fact only a two year old.
The upshot is that Middleham will not now start his ceremonial duties this year. He would have to carry a fit soldier rider, plus 5 stones (32kg) of saddlery and ceremonial armour etc for hours at a time on London's roads which requires strength and stamina and would be particularly demanding for such a big, young horses frame.
With an extraordinarily busy season ahead, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, it has been decided to send 'Middleham' to the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray for a summer of grazing and then they'll see how he looks. He will probably be kept there for a couple of seasons and be lightly ridden.

This isn't quite what anyone expected. Middleham's Troop Commander, Captain Alex Owen, said that Middleham had been the best behaved horse on the parade - either novice or more experienced horse, so he is very keen to nurture what looks like being a very good cavalry horse. Captain Owen explained that horses must be almost entirely black – white socks and facial markings are permissible in ‘Troopers’ (soldier’s horses) while entirely black colouring is required for ‘Chargers’ (officer’s horses). Middleham is fully black, so with his excellent temperament on parade, it is likely that he may be looked at for Charger training in the future.
If successful he may be used by an officer to ride on the wheel of Her Majesty’s carriage or lead a division or Regiment on parade.

Before Middleham was named he was referred to on all official documentation by his ‘remount number’ (the number stamped into his hoof). To make life easier in the stables the soldiers often give the remounts their own ‘stable name’. Middleham, a very slight and gentle horse, was affectionately known as 'Monster'.

Now that Middleham has passed out of training he has all four hooves stamped.
The front two show that he is a Blue & Royal and his Squadron number.
The rear hooves display his army number.

Stamping hooves started during the Peninsular War when it was discovered that Officers were selling their horses off to pay gambling debts and claiming they were dead to get a new one issued. By stamping the hooves the rider would have to present the numbered hoof to the Quarter Master in order to get a new remount issued.

The soldiers in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are all active duty soldiers who also serve with the Household Cavalry Armoured regiment and many have seen tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. On operations the soldiers exchange horses for tanks. The ability to deal with and care for horses makes Household cavalry soldiers ideally suited to life living off a vehicle in the dusty deserts of Helmand.

We will be following Trooper Middleham's progress and keep you all informed !









Trooper Middleham
(Photo by permission of MoD)

Middleham standing proudly on parade
at Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge after a successful morning in Hyde Park. Our horse has returned to his Squadron, the Blues, after six months growing up time out at grass in Leicestershire.

He is being ridden and schooled by Senior Equitation Instructor, Lance Corporal of Horse Scholes. Middleham’s development and work will be carefully managed to make sure he doesn’t
do too much too soon.

If all goes well, he should take part in his first public ceremonial duties for the State visits of
the President of Indonesia to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 31st October
and the Amir of Kuwait to Windsor Castle on Tuesday 27th November.
We hope to have some pictures of Middleham in full State Regalia on his first duties
and let you know how he gets on.

Trooper Middleham's Photo Album/News Updates - click here


The Household Cavalry have regimental pages where you can follow what the horses and men are doing, Also they have produced a book 'Uniquely British' to raise money for their Foundation - Take a look at the links below!