KELSO’s square was turned into a mini version of Horse Guards Parade on Saturday, with a rare appearance outside of London of troopers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
The visit was part of the celebrations to mark this year’s 10th anniversary of the Borders Festival of the Horse.
The festival is held in May, but the Household Cavalry was unable to travel to the Borders until last week.
As well as parading in the centre of Kelso on Saturday morning, the 36 soldiers and 28 horses from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals regiments – which comprise the Household Cavalry – performed their world-famous musical ride in the grounds of Floors Castle on Sunday.
The salute was taken by the Duke of Roxburghe, with the backdrop one of the most stunning views in the Borders looking over to the church spires of Kelso and the River Tweed.
The ride was one of the attractions at the castle’s annual massed pipe bands event, which also included a range of other activities, including falconry displays and highland dancing.
The visit by the Household Cavalry was organised by the Borders branch of the British Horse Society (BHS), which stages the month-long Borders Festival of the Horse.
The soldiers and their horses were based at Kelso Racecourse during their visit and Helene Mauchlen, BHS regional organiser, says members were delighted to have brought them to mark the 10th Borders Festival of the Horse.
“The troopers and officers pulled out the stops to ensure our members, the public and Kelso received wonderful access to the musical ride, the regiments and the beautiful horses. This was such an honour for the Borders,” Helene told TheSouthern.
“There was press interest and television coverage and working with Floors Castle on the Sunday paid off as the setting was perfect for the exciting and patriotic ride.
“We held a behind-the-scenes with the Household Cavalry on Friday, on Saturday they paraded in Kelso Square and provided a wedding with a guard of honour and on Sunday they performed demonstrations in the morning and finished off with the full musical ride followed by an amazing gallop.
“The skill of the ride and the sense of pageantry and precision riding was incredible and the horses were very fit and fresh and beautifully presented.
“They all loved their stay in Kelso – there was much socialising and altogether it was a memorable and magical three days.
“It was an honour to host the Household Cavalry musical ride and we must thank everyone at Kelso Racecourse, Floors Castle and of course the Duke of Roxburghe, the local police and the very many people who supported BHS for helping to make the weekend such a success.”
The visit turned the wedding of a local bride into a truly spectacular occasion, after the regiment offered to provide a guard of honour.
Kelso girl, Jane Vass, and her new husband, Bathgate engineer Peter Kelly, emerged from the town’s Cross Keys Hotel after their marriage ceremony on Saturday to be greeted by an archway of mounted troopers, complete with lances and resplendent in their traditional gleaming cuirasses and plumed helmets.
Jane is the daughter of Jim and Dot Vass and Jim said the Household Cavalry’s involvement had made the day even more special.
“It was months ago that someone from the Borders branch of the British Horse Society got in touch. They’d asked the local registrar if there were any weddings planned for that day and Jane’s was the only one,” Jim said.
“They were back in touch about a month ago to finalise things. There were hundreds of folk waiting by the time we arrived at the Cross Keys and there was just a sea of faces when Jane and Peter came out.
“It was a fantastic day and the presence of the troopers from the Household Cavalry made it even more magical.”