I recently met a very special pair of ears, a pair of very fluffy ears that are based just on the edge of Windsor Great Park. Ears many of you that follow Instagram may have seen, liked and are even avidly following as much as I am.
‘The Ears’, or Rock as he is known to his mum Claire, is fast becoming a bit of an Instagram sensation under the name of @life_through_the_ears . They currently have just over 4,000 followers on this fabulously visual social media platform but thats constantly rising… The principle is simple, it’s Claire’s view through Rock’s ears on a daily basis as they amble around the stunning landscape of Windsor Great Park and beyond.
However, these really aren’t just any old pair of gorgeous fluffy ears as Rock has been playing a pretty large role in London ceremonial life as part of the Light Cavalry, Honourable Artillery Company. After well over 100 years in existence the Light Cav has absorbed or reformed a few times, today you’ll find them taking part in many public duties in and around London at events such as the Lord Mayor’s Show, the Annual Inspection and also by providing Guards at polo matches in Smiths Lawn. Whilst many of the horses in the Light Cav are based at this prestigious polo ground a number are owned by civilians and Light Cav supporting riders, such as Claire, and kept separately to be called upon for specific events or needs throughout the year.
Away from the ceremonial aspect Claire & Rock get to do the most amazing array of activities with the Light Cav. Each year they hold a number of competitions including Tent Pegging, The Slashing Sabres, Skill at Arms, cross country and much much more! I can completely see why Claire is such a fan of this unit with all these amazing once in a lifetime experiences that she gets to do. The whole reason she originally bought Rock was in order to be a supporting rider to the Light Cav. She went on to explain the process she went through in buying him and having him assessed by the unit to ensure suitability… think about those times you’ve seen Police Horse of the Year competitions with all the crazy stuff each horse has to handle… then up it a level or two…
How many of us have horses that would willingly stand still or gallop in a straight line as swords are swung past their ears?!
When you see the whole Rock, and not just those famous ears, everything about him oozes with the attributes you would generally associate with a horse from a mounted military regiment. He’s strong, dark bay, deep chested with a blaze to the forehead.
He’s also extremely gentle, very loving and steady as a, well, rock!
He does definitely have a naughty side to him though, as Claire mentioned some of the times she’s left looking at him wondering where all that silliness just came from… He’s also rather partial to certain patches of grass and will merrily side step his way over if his handler isn’t alert enough to his ways. He’s also not a fan of certain fallen logs he’s seen a billion times before. Yet throw him in the Park with hundreds of deer staring at him and he’s just as likely to calmly watch them amble past as the next horse is to bolt for their lives!
We ambled around the amazing tracks of Windsor in the stunning late autumn, chatting and stopping to shoot in some gorgeous little areas. It was a little overcast and dreary but the colours from those leaves still around were still pulling out all the stops for us. Location wise, it was a ridiculous place to be able to shoot in but from a riding aspect this permit only park is just heaven. So many tracks, so many miles and so many iconic views to take in. I really wanted to get to the famous Long Walk if we could but not knowing the geography of the park that wish had to be parked… this time!
Sadly some of Rock’s ceremonial duties can no longer be carried out as he’s starting to have some hock issues. This year was the first Lord Mayors Show he’s missed in 7 years I believe, it’s just too demanding on his limbs now to risk it even though he’d merrily do his duty. As a result life is starting to slow down just a little for him, but I think he’s entitled at 20 years old. Claire has plans to learn to ride Side Saddle on him over the winter so she can then transfer those skills to other Light Cav horses and then take part in competitions with them.
I had the most amazing few hours with Claire, Rock and Claire’s friend Laura who was an absolute diamond following us around with spare kit and as our official ear attention grabber too. It really was fabulous to meet these ears and his ever smiling owner.
To be honest, if I owned Rock and I had Windsor Great Park to ride in 365 days of the year, I think I’d have a smile permanently etched on my face…
To keep up with the daily images from Claire and Rock on Instagram head to @life_through_the_ears …. give them some love too.
Have a fabulous week ahead!
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