Soldiers in Scotland have completed a military “Spurs Course” and gained an equine qualification from The British Horse Society (BHS) earlier this month.
The soldiers of Scotland’s regular cavalry unit, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and their paired reserve unit, The Scottish and Northern Irish Yeomanry, recently spent a week at the BHS approved Tower Farm in Edinburgh and gained a BHS qualification, at the same time benefiting from the wholesome world of horses.
Spurs courses are designed to quickly get new members of cavalry regiments up to required start state that they could train with the regiment. This course provided riding as a new skill with the added benefit of BHS qualifications to tie the experience down to real life and give a foothold in the BHS Equine Excellence Pathway which can lead to a civilian career in coaching.
There were three groups of differing experience levels. In the top group, six riders achieved BHS Stage 1, seven reached Bronze and another six beginner riders passed their Introductory Challenge Awards. Coaches were Patrick Print FBHS and Richard Johnstone Smith BHSI. Patrick said: “To think that some of these soldiers had never sat on a horse before 3pm on the Monday and passed out in a drill ride before midday Friday – it’s remarkable.”
“This was a very intensive few days, we included handling, farriery, horse care with a vet as well as equitation; Tower Farm’s standard of horses and turnout was phenomenal as was the enthusiasm of the participants.”, Patrick added. The Spurs course was the culmination of 18 months of work since BHS Scotland started an initiative with the two Scottish Cavalry Regiments with the aim of delivering wider equestrian training for army personnel, while working toward undertaking mounted ceremonial duties in Edinburgh and beyond.
Lieutenant Oliver Horridge from SCOTS DG said: “This week provided a great opportunity for the soldiers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and our reserve partner regiment to reconnect with our original mounted role. We had a fantastic week at Tower Farm, working with their friendly staff and learning from Patrick and Richard, whose enthusiasm and knowledge was infectious. We received brilliant support from the BHS getting all our soldiers an accreditation at different levels depending on their prior riding experience. Many of the soldier had recently returned after a couple of months of exercise in Oman and relished the opportunity to unwind and improve a different skill from their normal day job.”