The Daily Telegraph
Horses accustomed to showers of flowers
HORSES that will pull the gun carriage bearing late Queen’s coffin have had flowers and flags thrown at them to prepare them for today’s procession.
Soldiers pretended to sob as they threw them to prepare the animals for the huge crowds expected to line the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall today as the coffin is taken to lie in state.
Sgt Tom Jenks, 30, will ride Cassius, the “number one” horse, on the left and will also be charged with overseeing the “gun team”. Speaking at Wellington Barracks after an early-morning rehearsal for the procession, he said: “The horses … get exposed to loud noises, flags, flowers, people sobbing or making different noises.
“We try to do it regularly, once every couple of months … so it’s never a surprise. Even to the point [of ] banging loads of drums [and] making aggressive noises in case anything [arises].”
Lead horse Cassius, 18, will take part in its final public event on Monday after a 12-year career during which it featured in Margaret Thatcher’s 2013 funeral. Sgt Jenks said: “He’s retiring after this parade. He was not kept on especially but we couldn’t retire him until we had another horse of his establishment able to replace him. It’s fitting that he gets to retire doing this job.”
Some horses initially struggled to adapt to the slow pace required for the funeral procession, Sgt Jenks added. “It’s quite a tall order to ask them to walk at a slow march pace.”
Usually, parades are based on horses’ natural walking pace, which is twice that of today’s procession.