The Military Drum Horse is likely one of the most popular and recognizable equine members of the King of England’s Band of the Lifeguards regiment.
Actually, named after a “job” performed by the horse, the Drum Horses were a very important member of the regiment and all cavalry Drum Horses carry the rank of Major. In historic times, the only way of communicating with the men on the ground was with Drums and flags – if the Drums were beating during a battle, the fighting continued, and only when the drums stopped and the flags changed could the soldiers stop fighting, and the battle would end”. The Drum Horse had to be strong enough to carry two large Kettle Drums, plus a fully outfitted rider, and maintain a calm disposition throughout the battle, they were an integral part of many military exercises, and were often given mascot status by the troops.
Thankfully, Drums in the modern military are no longer used in battle but still hold an important role in ceremonies, they must carry the full weight of the Drums, rider and traditional gear (around 300lb), be able to navigate through crowds of thousands and maintain that same calmness they displayed on the battle field all those years ago. The mere fact that a Drum Horse can remain calm in large busy crowds, while being controlled entirely by reins attached to their rider’s feet is a testament to the Drum Horse’s extraordinary temperament. Although Military Drum Horses are usually piebald or skewbald in colour. It is not uncommon to see them in solid colours. Historically all Drum Horses in the Military were geldings, that changed in 2021 with the introduction of Juno, a mare who debuted at the Trooping of Colour ceremony in 2023.
In the modern world, Drum Horses are being redefined for use internationally in various ridden and driven disciplines. They combine the size and stature of the Shire and Clydesdale with the colour and hair of the Gypsy Horse to create an animal that possesses the best traits of each breed. Slightly lighter than their full-blood draft counterparts the Drum Horse makes a talented athletic mount which can compete successfully in many ridden or driven disciplines, and are by nature a calm, level-headed horse.
The Drum Horses may have thundered out of our History books, and now they are thundering into the future, the IDHA is thrilled to be behind this incredible breed.