A day’s work for the cavalry soldier was ruled by trumpet calls, and was split between looking after his horse and riding out on patrol.
The 20th Light Dragoons spent most of its latest, shortest, incarnation in assisting the civil powers in Kent, where they helped to keep law and order and assisted The Revenue (today’s HM Revenue and Customs) with mounted anti-smuggling patrols. It was routine, but hard work with long hours.
From late March to late September, Reveille was sounded by the trumpeters at 5.30 in the morning. The soldiers mucked out the horse-lines, groomed the horses and cleaned the tack. At 8 o’clock the horses were watered and fed, and only then could the troops have their own breakfast. The trumpets sounded “Boots and Saddles”, horses were saddled up and the troops moved out on patrol. Horses were watered again at 4 o’clock and fed from nosebags. The troops generally returned to barracks by 8 o’clock in the evening, when the horses were rubbed down and cleaned with a ‘wisp’ made of straw before being ‘racked’ up (filling the hay racks) for the night. Again, after the horses were cared for, the troops could themselves have something to eat and some time to themselves before bed.