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by Corporal of Horse D Evans
The Blues and Royals

This year the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, decided that His Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) would celebrate the centenary of the Great Arab Revolt by holding a large scale, combined arms parade which would continue on a yearly basis. The parade was to consist of approximately 800 infantry from the Royal Guards Regiments, 60 camels from the Jordanian Police, and 45 men and horses from the newly formed Royal Horse Guard.  Realising the magnitude of the parade, the Royal Protocol staff sought equine advice, and who better to ask than us?  But unfortunately for Jordan they got LCpl Joyce and me as instructors for two months, with the objective of assisting in the training and execution of a successful mounted parade. The Short Term Training Team also consisted of Farrier LCoH Harris, Saddler LCpl Giesen, and the Regimental Veterinary Officer Major N Housby-Skeggs RAVC, all of whom would be staying for three weeks. This full team allowed our hosts to seek advice on all aspects of ceremonial horsemanship.

The STTT - CoH Evans, FLCoH Harris, Maj J Housby-Skeggs,
Jordanian Guard Comd,  LCpl Giesen, LCpl Joyce

The Parade Adjutant’s horse,

The cultural and language barrier was obvious and proved challenging at first, but after learning the appropriate hand signals, and once the Jordanians became accustomed to hearing Arabic spoken in a cockney accent, it was clear that mounted units, wherever they may reside, share a common passion that transcends language. The horses used by the JAF were of Portuguese and Spanish origin, the Lusitano, which for centuries have been bred for bull fighting, making them brave and quick to react.  This meant training was difficult, but still achievable, with the help of experienced hands from both sides. 
The team shared valuable insights into the positioning of horses and men during the training process. As this was Jordan’s first ever mounted parade, there was no room for trial and error, and the learning curve for both horse and rider was steep. New horses were trained to deal with loud military band music, infantry were used to conduct drill so the noise was not foreign to the horses, and then there was the fly past with jet pilots trying to get the best view of the parade ground and be close enough to catch a glimpse of the King himself!  All of this was alien to the horses, but with a carefully planned and executed timetable it was achieved.

The venue of the parade was a purpose built pavilion with room to rival our own Horse Guards Parade.  No expense had been spared and once completed it was ‘fit for a king’. There were two full dress rehearsals prior to the King seeing the parade, when problems were ironed out discreetly and photography was banned.  The latter was to prevent any leak onto social media as the whole parade was to be a surprise for the King.  The Chairman of the Jordanian Armed Forces and Crown Prince Hussain bin Abdullah presided over these reviews and were both very happy and proud of what their troops had achieved.

The Al Reyeh parade ground
Cross training - CoH Evans makes a return to the Camel Corps tradition

On the Arab Revolt Centenary Day there was a huge amount of media coverage, and dignitaries from all over the world, including the UK, attended.  The parade went off without a hitch and the King was extremely proud and gave nothing but praise to his soldiers.  Spirits were high and it was requested that we should stay for longer to assist in the forming of the new mounted unit, the Jordanian Royal Horse Guard.  This was both flattering and confirmation that we had succeeded in the parade and our mission.  It was also obvious that a deep bond of friendship between British soldiers and the JAF had been forged.  The Jordanians were kind, hospitable and accepting of our methods, experience and sometimes humour.  For a country in such a volatile region, to see such a public display of pride and patriotism was particularly stirring, and for us to witness it first hand was a privilege.  After the contacts that have been made and the experiences enjoyed by all, we are looking forward to working with our Jordanian colleagues again in the future.

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