War horse – where it all begins
The Army School of Equitation is a contrasting combination of sparkling ceremony and gritty craftsmanship. On one side there's the pomp, circumstance and straight backs of the riders who train for royal parades, weddings and show jumping competitions.
These are the shiny-booted officers who parade along Pall Mall in their finery and gallop about on the rolling, open hills of Melton Mowbray.
Then there are the grizzled jaws and calloused hands of the farriers, who spend their days working inside at a furnace, rhythmically hammering out white-hot horseshoes.
"For the riders, for the horses, the farriers – this is where it all begins," said Captain Derren Payne, who runs the Equine Training Squadron at Melton's Animal Defence Centre.
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"All of the horses you saw at the royal wedding would have been through here. Any state ceremony, in fact – all military horses start their lives here."
There are about 250 members of the Household Cavalry, in London, and 125 who ride for the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
Fans of flamboyant royal parades and state ceremonies will be familiar with both regiments.
But what people might not know is that training alongside the riders and parade horses are the apprentices at the Army School of Farriery, who undertake one of the longest apprenticeships of all service personnel.
They spend about three years learning blacksmithing techniques as well as veterinary skills – which enable them to care for the hooves – and will join one of the aforementioned regiments once they have qualified.
Forge Farrier Major Bob Blackwood is responsible for training these apprentices.
He said: "This is one of the only trades in the Army where you're guaranteed a job if you leave.
"Our farriers are ranked as some of the best in the world – and we have to be."
The centre, which can hold up to 370 horses, goes through about 4,000 iron shoes a year.
"It's like painting the Forth Bridge," said Major Blackwood.
"But we're keeping an important trade alive."
Both corps of the equine regiment are based at the 360-acre Animal Defence Centre, in Melton.
The huge site is set among the lush green hills of the Leicestershire countryside and includes an indoor parade area where instructors are trained and assessed on a regular basis.
It's here that the skills needed for royal and ceremonial parades are learned.
But it doesn't always go to plan.
During Kate and William's royal wedding parade, one Household Cavalry horse threw its rider to the ground before bolting up Whitehall and heading for home – the Horse Guards' Barracks, which weren't far away.
"Not every horse can cope with going down the Mall in front of 40,000 people," said Lieutenant Colonel Richard Pope, commanding officer of the Animal Defence Centre.
"Each animal has a personality, just like a person."
The horses are brought in when they are about five years old and sourced from one particular European region – but we can't say where, it's classified.
"We select the horses for their qualities, and whether we think they'll make good parade horses," said Capt Payne.
"But they all have their own personalities and they do occasionally get spooked."
Capt Payne admitted there was even a horse at the centre which was "scared of his own shadow" – but he was a good training horse.
He also said there was one in particular which he'd been paying a little extra attention to – although he's not really supposed to have favourites.
"I like Herstmonceux," said Capt Payne. "But I don't know if I'm supposed to say that."
The Animal Defence Centre has a long history in Melton.
Lt Col Pope said: "In 1903, there were more than 6,000 horses here.
"But you've got to remember that horses were all the Army had at that time – there weren't any tanks, soldiers got about on horseback.
"So this site has a proud equine history – one that we're determined to continue."
The horses of the King's Troop and the Household Cavalry all return to Melton twice a year for a "break" and a check up at the onsite veterinary hospital.
"They come out here for Christmas and during the summer. They can't work continuously," said Capt Payne.
"But it's not a holiday."