A True Cavalry Experience

Recently, I had the greatest of opportunities to attend the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) stables.

Meeting the troop was thrilling and eye-opening for me.

As Canadians, we all know of or have heard about the Musical Ride that the RCMP performs. Some of us have seen it on television or perhaps in person.

What you may not know is that the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) also perform this ride. The ride originated in 1874 with the North West Mounted Police (NWMP).

Those officers would perform drills to music as an off-duty assignment, which then evolved into the musical ride as it is today.

Their origins date back to 1900 when Donald Smith, the first Baron of Strathcona and Mount Royal, saw a need for an armed cavalry regiment to aid the British in the Boer War in South Africa.

Smith explained the unique skill of the North West Mounted Police and Cowboys of the region as being just what was needed to win the war.

He trained the regiment and supplied them with horses, and equipment. In the spring of 1900, they were deployed.

When they returned from the war, Donald Smith turned the regiment over to the crown, and since then, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) has been protecting Canada.

The regiment, based in Edmonton, was very welcoming to my visit. I toured around the facility, met their horses and the men who rode them, and learned about their rich history.

The troop is dedicated to upholding the living history of their unit, and they ride on saddles dating back to the early 1900s.

The Horse Master trains both men and horses in the ride, while Saddle Masters maintain equipment.

They are an integral part of our Canadian military as each man is actively serving in the regular armored regiment.

Today, this ceremonial troop performs the musical ride incorporating the maneuvers used by the original troop.

Watching them train was thrilling. A dozen horses in the arena with their riders, charging across the ground, is something that cannot entirely be described beyond comparing it to being able to feel thunder.

The earth beneath your feet shakes, and the energy is charged and palpable around you.

It is a fantastic feat to coordinate horse and rider in a complex ride. Riding close enough to brush up against one another, these horses and their riders skillfully navigate the field, demonstrating their abilities to the delight of large crowds.

If you have never seen the Musical Ride or only watched it on TV, I strongly urge you to try and see them in person.

When I spoke with Captain Ali Mansour, he said that he was thrilled and excited to be returning to Armstrong to perform alongside the Okanagan Military Tattoo.

He explained that the crowds in Armstrong were some of the best he’d ever seen, a sentiment shared by many of the seasoned riders.

The Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) can be seen performing the Musical Ride this May 26 with the Okanagan Military Tattoo at the Armstrong Fairgrounds.



By: Guest Writer Pam Thesen