HEAVY CAVALRY UNIFORMS, ARMS & EQUIPMENT - DRAGOON GUARDS & DRAGOONS
DRUM HORSE FURNITURE
Along with drums and drum banners, the horse furniture for the magnificent animals chosen to bear them became more elaborate as the century came to an end. Decorative headstalls and brow bands became the norm often fitted with brass or gilt studs. By the late 1890s every regiment had unique bridles, with the King’s Dragoon Guards even having a plume to its horse’s headstall.
Many drum horses had an officer’s pattern shabracque and when they were abolished in 1897, the regimental drum horses retained them. For the 6th Dragoon Guards, this was a bonus because the short lived white shabracque was the one that stayed with the drum horse. The only regiment (as far as is known) that had a specially designed shabracque was the Royal Scots Greys who had a scarlet one.
The horses themselves naturally had to be big and strong to carry the heavy drums. They were often shire breeds which needed to be seventeen to nineteen hands high. They were not, in this period, the heavy Clydesdale types that are used by today’s Household Cavalry regiments. Although piebald horses tended to be popular some regiments preferred white, brown or black horses. By the end of the century, white horses were used by the 1st, 5th and 6th Dragoon Guards and the Royal Scots Greys. Bays were used by the 2nd and 4th Dragoon Guards and the remainder used piebalds. There were variations however. At one point the Greys had a black horse as did the 7th Dragoon Guards. In many cases the drum horse became a beloved mascot of the regiment as in the Greys whose white dappled horse may have been the most famous, known as “Plum Duff”.