The Queen's Funeral Procession Proved More Difficult For The Horses Than You Thought

On September 14, 2022, a 4,500-strong military procession transporting Queen Elizabeth IIs coffin on a horse-drawn gun carriage draped by the Royal Standard made its way through the streets of London. The cavalcade traveled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where she will lie in state until her funeral on September 19, according to NBC News and The Guardian. The many horses taking part in the somber event had special training to deal with the massive crowd of hundreds of thousands of mourners, according to The Times of India.

The intense training acclimated the animals to whatever foreseeable circumstance might occur. The horses, chosen for both their relaxed personalities and dark coloring, did well under the pressure of being pelted with flowers and flags. Soldiers even pretended to weep loudly as the animals passed by in anticipation of the real thing, per The Guardian. But there has been one unusual and unanticipated problem riders noticed during practice that they hoped to have in hand in time for the funeral procession.

Keeping the Horses in Hand

The British military's horses often see duty at parades and other public events at which they get to walk at their normal pace, but in keeping in the spirit of this somber event, they needed to maintain a much slower cadence. "It's quite a tall order to ask them to walk at a slow march pace," Sgt. Tom Jenks told The Guardian. He rode the lead horse in front of the gun carriage carrying Queen Elizabeth's coffin.

Jenks rode 18-year-old Cassius, an old hand at somber state processions that took part in Margaret Thatcher's funeral in 2013. In the live video of the procession on NBC News, Cassius and its fellow horses appeared to behave and keep the somber pace expected of them, but there were a few instances in which their riders had to slow them down. In general, though, the horses were perfectly paced and very calm, probably due to all their hard work beforehand. Cassius is going out on a high note as the military plans to retire him now that he's done his royal duty, per The Guardian.