Subbie Ride Course 2016

Lt Alex “Whoa-OMG-OMG” Young

After almost a year at the Regiment, the 4 new subbies, along with 2 soldiers from Maintenance Troop, and 3 soldiers from Signals Troop, were set to begin our week long ride course. As we gathered at the stables early on a crisp November morning, we were all a little unsure about what the week would entail. Our sense of smell however, was giving us some sense of what was to come. After a quick introduction by the Troop Warrant, Sgt Paul “The Crippler” Kruhlak, we were shown the morning routine at the stables. This involved feeding and watering the horses, grooming the arena, and everyone’s favourite activity, mucking out the stalls. After finally completing this daily ritual, we met the horses for the first time. We quickly realized that the maintenance requirements of a tank pale in comparison to those of a horse. Between mucking the stall, grooming the horse, and cleaning the tack, taking care of a horse is definitely a full time job.

We were all excited to finally mount the horses for the first time after all the grooming was completed. Our first ride however did not include what we thought would be a normal piece of equipment: a saddle. Learning to ride bare back increases your balance, coordination and riding position, or so MCpl Colin “Saddles are for the Weak” Davidson told us. To us however, it mostly just hurt. Collectively, we made almost until noon before Lt Leland “Gravity sucks” Kirkham took the first tumble. He was not the only one for long however, as Lt Alex “Why does this always happen to me” Neshcov and Cpl Kirk “I wanna be in the infantry” Vantongeren soon joined him.

The second day started with another round of feeding, mucking, and grooming. Once we mounted our horses, again without any saddles, we soon moved into the trot, which amplified all the sores that we had collected from the day before. This is what finally dismounted our British exchange officer from the Royal Lancers Lt David “Polo Players have Saddles” Clarkson. We finished the morning tired and sore, but eager for the next day, when we finally earned the right to use saddles. By the morning of the third day, we had settled into the routine somewhat and quickly got through the daily tasks.  After we figured out how to put on the tack, we mounted our horses and comfortably settled into our saddles. The saddles turned out to have additional challenges, as one had to continually think of riding and foot position.

A day full of trotting and cantering left us all even sorer than we had been before. On the fourth day we were a well-oiled machine at the morning routine and quickly got out into the arena. The day consisted of learning and practicing cavalry drills, which is the most basic drill sequence that Mounted Troop performs. This required a level of skill, precision, and horsemanship that we did not yet possess, however we improved throughout the day until we reached a somewhat acceptable standard. On Friday, the final day of the course, we once again mounted up and took to the riding arena. This time we were joined by several soldiers from Mounted Troop, who filled out our ranks, and helped guide us through the Cavalry drills. With their help, we successfully got through the Cavalry Drills, and finished off the course with a few fun games. For the subbies, these games mostly comprised us watching the Mounted Troop Riders, gallop around while we tried desperately, if not always successfully to stay on our horses. It was however, a very enjoyable way to finish off a very enjoyable course, that left us all bruised, battered, and tired, but all proud to have earned our spurs.