„The history of mankind is carried on the back of a horse. “
The days when horses were needed as tools for humans are over. There are still a few areas where horses are used for specific work, but they are rare. So, one can quickly forget what crucial role these animals played in our all history. If it weren’t for horses, our world would not look as it does today. Studying the academic art of riding, I enjoy looking back, traveling in time, and learning about the days when horses were valued companions in travel, war, and work, and the purpose was more than sports.
Denmark is keeping a part of this history alive with the Gardehusar regiment. The cavalry unit of the Royal Danish Army was founded in 1762. This makes it one of the oldest regiments of hussars in the world still operational, and it is also the only hussars in mounted parade uniform.
Tradition, honor, and horsemanship - the Gardehusar Regiment embodies all of it. With a history that echoes through centuries, this cavalry unit is more than just a military force; it's a living testament to Denmark's commitment to its heritage. Learn more about the Gardehusar Regiment, exploring its training methods, the regal duties of its members, and the bond forged between soldiers and their equine companions.
The Equine Quarters
For the photoshoot, I got to visit the military stables in Slagelse and got a tour around the area. Let me say - I wouldn’t mind having my horse there! Home to the regiment's horses is the military stable in Slagelse. With ample space for 75 horses, the regiment divides its charges into two groups, each commencing their duties in a staggered fashion— one in February and the other in August. These groups, representing the youngest and oldest, form the backbone of the regiment's equestrian prowess.
A Year of Dedication: Military Service and Specialized Training
The life of a guardsman in the Gardehusar Regiment is starting with a mandatory 12-month military service. This service is divided into four months of 'green service,' followed by eight months of intensive training within the stables, called ‚blue service.'
During the blue service, aspiring guards undergo a comprehensive curriculum covering everything from the basics of handling horses to advanced riding techniques. The objective is clear — to equip them with the skills needed to participate in the regiment's most prestigious duty: escorting the queen.
Riding to Royalty: The Queen's Elite Escort
The biggest achievement for a guardsman is the opportunity to escort the queen. However, this honor is not easy to achieve; it demands passing two stringent riding tests. Success in these tests not only showcases the mastery of horsemanship but also underscores the regiment's commitment to excellence.
The queen's escort duties are not limited to ceremonial events; they encompass a diverse range of occasions, from summer cruises and state visits to birthdays, funerals, and other major national events. Each escort is a display of the regiment's unwavering commitment to safeguarding the Danish monarchy with grace and precision.
Splendid and valuable at the same time
The Gardehusars' uniform and the tack of their horse are simply stunning. But it's not just decoration. Every aspect of the uniform has its purpose, defined by tradition. The eye-catching shells on the horse's bridle are a beautiful and unique decoration and protect the horse from enemy sword attacks. The shape of the surfaces offers more protection than pure leather. The cross in front of the horse's chest also aims to protect the horse from blows with the sword. The decorations on the Gardehusar's uniform are reminiscent of the ribs of a skeleton. This outfit was intended to instill fear in the enemy when the regiment rode into battle. The uniform is adorned with the coat of arms of Queen Margrethe II.
More than mere companions, the regiment's horses are given a unique identity. Each horse is given a new name upon purchase, adhering to a specific initial letter corresponding to its birth year. For example, all horses born in 2001 are named with the initial letter G, 2002 with the initial letter H, and so on. This charming tradition reflects the regiment's attention to detail and creates a sense of unity among the equine members.
The Weekly Regiment: Health Checks and Craftsmanship
Every Monday, the regiment's horses undergo thorough examinations by a blacksmith and a veterinarian. This regular health check ensures the well-being and soundness of each horse.
In addition to health checks, the regiment employs a permanent saddle maker responsible for fitting saddles, harnesses, and other riding equipment.
Mentors in the Saddle: Riding Instructors and Musical Pursuits
The training is taken care of by a team of seven riding instructors who educate the guards to be good horsemen and riders. These instructors play a crucial role in passing on the regiment's centuries-old expertise.
In addition, some of the conscripts learn to play the trumpet, so a music teacher is also employed. Some conscripts can play, while others learn it for the first time with the hussars.
A Spectacle on Horseback: Demonstration Teams and International Invitations
Each group within the regiment selects a distinguished demonstration team. These teams showcase their skills at events across Denmark and occasionally on international stages. Their performances are not just displays of horsemanship; they are visual symphonies, captivating audiences and highlighting the regiment's dedication to excellence.
For me, the Gardehusar Regiment embodies more than a military unit; it is a living legacy, an embodiment of Denmark's commitment to tradition, honor, and service. From the meticulous training of guards and their equine partners to the regal duties of escorting the queen, every aspect of the regiment's operations is steeped in history and underscored by a dedication to excellence that transcends time. As these guardians on horseback continue to make their mark at home and abroad, the Gardehusar Regiment remains an iconic symbol of Denmark's enduring legacy and long.
Hej, I'm AnnaThe horse-girl behind the camera
Welcome to my world of equine fine art photography. This is me - Anna, a German living in Denmark, loving horses, dogs and Lakridskugler. Always ready to try creative ideas, explore beautiful locations, or finding the beauty in your daily life. Read more about my work.