Well, Bucks County Show is over for another year and the thing I was looking forward to the most didn’t let me down.
The Household Cavalry Musical Ride performed in the main ring twice and both performances were fast and thrilling, set to fabulous music including Lord of the Dance and You Know My Name by Chris Cornell, the theme to James Bond’s Casino Royale.
Both pieces were entirely appropriate, the first because all the black horses in the show are from Ireland, and the second serving as a reminder that the riders are not only taking part in entertainment, but also work as real fighting soldiers.
The Household Cavalry is made up of soldiers from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals. Part of their work is ceremonial at Horse Guards Parade, but they also serve in war zones and have been to Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Falklands and Northern Ireland.
The soldiers involved in the Musical Ride are not permanent, they are there for a period of time before new riders take over. The men at Bucks County Show were all aged between 19 and 28 and trained on the 18 week riding course all mounted soldiers do before taking part in ceremonial duties and then applied to join the Musical Ride.
The officer in charge, Captain Jack Pile, told me most of the men had learned to ride only in the last 18 months, and at least half a dozen hadn’t even sat on a horse a year ago. This makes their incredible choreographed display even more impressive.
They were accompanied by four grey horses ridden by members of the Corps of Army Music, and the drum horse who was carrying a 52 kilo drum and who is trained for five years to get used to the noise of the instrument.
Many people sitting and standing near to me commented that this was the best main ring performance they had seen at the show for years, and I think it was especially moving because these men are real soldiers and deserve our respect for the dangerous work they carry out in war zones.