ABU DHABI // A British military tradition found a new audience last night when the Household Cavalry's Musical Ride was performed in the capital. The first performance of the show outside Europe, at the Abu Dhabi Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, featured 26 horses and riders who thrilled a crowd that included tourists and Emirati royalty. The 30-minute performance began with a British military band and the Abu Dhabi Police Band playing the UAE and British national anthems, followed by traditional songs from each country.
A film showed the Household Cavalry escorting monarchs on official duties, then the horses being put on a jet bound for Abu Dhabi. As it showed the soldiers riding over the dunes of the UAE, the drum horse and four trumpeters emerged into the arena to herald a display that remains almost unchanged since it was first performed in 1882. To a soundtrack that ranged from Vivaldi's Four Seasons to techno, the audience watched a range of skills that used to be essential in the days when the mounted cavalry was the most fearsome military option. Not all were feats of daring and speed. Four "rough riders" commanded their horses to lie down and stay down, a skill once used by scouts who needed to hide, or by troops who needed cover from fire. Within seconds of the command to stand, the men had remounted and were galloping away. Finally, the soldiers sought the leave of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative to the Western Region and the chairman of the Emirates Falconers Club, which organised the exhibition, to exit the arena. An encore saw the rough riders returning, bearing the Union and UAE flags, which they hoisted aloft before sprinting away. Ruth Taylor, a Scottish resident of Abu Dhabi, said: "It was amazing." Gillian Brennan, from New Zealand, who also lives in Abu Dhabi, said: "It was fabulous. I'll remember this for the rest of my life." email@example.com