Monday, 22 April 2019

Army reservist recreates wartime cavalry offensive

Army reservist recreates wartime cavalry offensive

AN army reservist completed a 100km horse ride through France and Belgium to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Freja Galliven, 23, of St Mary’s Close, Henley, took part in the International Cavalry Association’s Pursuit to Mons last month to commemorate the last cavalry offensive of the conflict.

The 70 riders followed the route from Cambrai to Mons taken by the allied forces as they pushed the Germans through Belgium in 1918.

Miss Galliven, a former student of Gillotts School and The Henley College, signed up for the challenge in December while she was in her final year at Southampton Solent University studying for a degree in criminology and psychology.

She said: “I was utterly honoured to be a part of something like this. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an extremely memorable experience.”

Miss Galliven is a reservist in the 94 Berkshire Yeomanry, Royal Corps of Signals and rode Gisella, a 17-year-old ex-trotter.

The horse belongs to Roger Crevel, who runs a riding school in France.

Miss Galliven prepared for the challenge by riding in formation and for long periods and by training in Windsor with the Light Cavalry, part of the Honourable Artillery Company.

The ride itself took eight days and involved sitting on the horse for about seven hours a day in a period saddle while wearing a wartime army uniform.

Miss Galliven said: “We would stop for lunch and there would be organised parades in some of the towns. Each night we would bed down the horses and set up in a field or local park before trying to get our heads down.

“My friends and family thought I was absolutely bonkers for doing it but it was both humbling and moving to take part.” She raised more than £700 for Brooke, an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules.

Miss Galliven hopes to enrol at Sandhurst Military Academy for officer training in September and will spend the next year on courses.

She said: “I joined the officer training corps as an extra curriculum activity and it opened my eyes to the opportunities within the army. I decided it would be a better career choice than joining the police, which I had hoped to do.”

Miss Galliven has loved horses since she was a child. Her late grandfather Ove Hoglund, who lived in Sweden, used them for work.

She said: “He relied upon them heavily to earn a living through ploughing fields and dragging cut- down trees off the snow-covered mountains. I would go over to Sweden and spend time with him and with his horses every day.

“One thing I learnt from my grandfather was that these magnificent beasts should be treated with respect and gratitude for the unrewarding work they do for us.”

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