Thousands enjoy Melton festival of military dogs and horses

Lots of interest in some of the armoured vehicles on display at the Defence Animal Centre open day EMN-170626-173908001
Lots of interest in some of the armoured vehicles on display at the Defence Animal Centre open day EMN-170626-173908001

Around 5,000 people visited Melton’s Defence Animal Centre (DAC) on Sunday to enjoy spectacular displays and find out how military dogs and horses are trained.

The occasion was the Asfordby Road base’s latest open day where army personnel from the Defence Animal Training Regiment were on hand to meet visitors and talk about their work.

The Household Cavalry on parade EMN-170626-173931001

The Household Cavalry on parade EMN-170626-173931001

One of the highlights of the day was a performance of the ever-popular Musical Ride by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in the main arena.

There was an opportunity to see how dogs are expertly trained for theatres of war and other combat situations and the training which goes into preparing horses for displays and military use.

It was a great day out for the family with a petting zoo and alpaca farm set up, plus a climbing wall organised by the Scouts.

Lt Col Mark Morrison, commanding officer of the Defence Animal Training Regiment at the DAC, said: “We were delighted to open our doors to the local community and showcase what it delivers on behalf of defence.

A Shetland pony and an Irish wolfhound were mascots in the parade ring

A Shetland pony and an Irish wolfhound were mascots in the parade ring

“We hope everyone enjoyed the day and that there was enough for them to see and engage with.

“My soldiers are extremely proud to showcase the work that they carry out and I hope this came across in our engagement with the public.

“We are very proud of our longstanding connection with the local community and we hope to see everyone on site again in the future.”

Major Martyn Thompson, who is also based at the camp, said: “We believe we had around 4,000 to 5,000 people there on Sunday.

Visitors meet the horses in the stables area EMN-170626-173959001

Visitors meet the horses in the stables area EMN-170626-173959001

“It was around the figure we normally get although no-one can remember the second car park being full as it was at the weekend.”

The event has been running since 2012 but took a break last year. The Defence Animal Training Regiment, which is based at the camp, plans to hold the next one in 2019.

“It does distract slightly from the day job for our staff because it is a long week getting everything set up for the day,” Major Thompson added.

“But the soldiers are very proud of what they do and they enjoyed demonstrating and explaining their work to the public.”

The farriers hard at work displaying their skills EMN-170626-174012001

The farriers hard at work displaying their skills EMN-170626-174012001

Visitors were asked not to bring their own dogs because of the difficulties that would have presented in policing the event.

Oscar Mosley takes a turn in the drivers seat of a Wolfhound armoured vehicle EMN-170626-174025001

Oscar Mosley takes a turn in the drivers seat of a Wolfhound armoured vehicle EMN-170626-174025001

Cadet Holly Lewis and welfare officer Brian Fare at the RAF Association stall EMN-170626-173921001

Cadet Holly Lewis and welfare officer Brian Fare at the RAF Association stall EMN-170626-173921001