Sporting Diana: Captain Amy Cooper

Serving as Second in Command with The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery has proved a dream career for this Pony Club-cum-Quorn stalwart

Captain Amy Cooper of the King's Troop r
Riding Sir Harry Scattercash to fire the 2 minute national silence for Remembrance last year going past the Royal Artillery memorial at Wellington Arch on the way to Horse Guards Parade, the photo was taken by my friend/photographer Michael Patrick who gives permission for his images to be used.

At two years old I remember being sat on a little grey pony named Smokey. It was a far cry from the King’s Troop. I haven’t wanted to get off a horse since. My parents took me for weekly lessons at our local riding school. Eventually, they were worn down and we got a loan pony, Milly. She taught me how to ride. It took a few more years before I convinced my parents to buy me a pony of my own. Aged 10, Barnaby came into my life: unbeatable on a good day, Satan on a bad one.

The Quorn Hunt Pony Club became a big part of my life, competing in all disciplines; my long-suffering father, Adrian, became the only man on the committee. Over the years, he drove around the country so I could compete and would get up in the dark before work to help me look after the horses and ponies. I evented up to Intermediate level on a Connemara cross we called Charlie, bought from a field behind a housing estate.

I’d planned to give up riding…

A gap-year trip around South America took me away from riding and I’d planned to give up while at university. That lasted about two weeks and I found myself looking at a three-year-old. Mojo, a rose-grey gelding. He indulged my eventing dreams but hunting is where he really sets the world alight. When hounds are running he will jump anything in his path. I trust him to keep me safe and have had some truly glorious days with the Quorn.

It was through hunting that I had a chance meeting at the Autumn Frolic with a King’s Troop officer, who was on his long course at the Defence Animal Training Regiment. This planted a seed in my mind. But first I completed a Graduate Diploma in Law and headed to London in an attempt to please my parents and get a well-paid job like my friends. It soon became apparent that living in London was not for me and I returned home to Leicestershire. The King’s Troop had remained in my mind and while applying for training contracts, I also completed the forms to join the Army.

Captain Amy Cooper on her horse Mojo

The King’s Troop stuck in the mind

Four months later, I was on my way to Sandhurst. I commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 2016 and after completing the Young Officer Course was posted to 12th Regiment Royal Artillery on Thorney Island. Mojo came with me and we were often up early to ride on the beach before work. Highlights during this time include selection for the Army eventing team, taking my soldiers snowboarding in Austria, finishing a biathlon season and being invited out to Montelibretti twice to compete at the Italian Cavalry showjumping tournament. I then deployed as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, taking part in large-scale multinational exercises.

On returning to the UK, my post was with The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery as the Right Section Commander. Fortunately, not just Mojo but also my dogs, Monty and Kipling, were able to come, too. Serving at The King’s Troop has been the job of a lifetime and has included two years as a Section Commander, riding chargers on Royal Salutes, State visits, taking part in the Musical Drive at Royal Windsor Horse Show and at the late Queen’s birthday parade inside Windsor Castle in 2021. Another high point was competing in my first hunt race on a military horse named Skylark. Every year the Troop horses take a  holiday in Norfolk. Galloping down Holkham beach on a horse called Hotrod was another special moment.

The greatest honour

Currently, I am the Second in Command and had the great honour of leading Her Late Majesty’s funeral procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on my charger Lord Firebrand, who received fan mail after his performance (including £5 to buy some carrots). Leading the procession was the most poignant moment in my military career and one that will stay with me forever. I was fortunate enough to meet the late Queen on a couple of occasions. I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity; her humility, work ethic and selfless devotion to the people of this country was extraordinary. Serving at The King’s Troop has been an immense privilege and I have never worked with such diligent and good-humoured individuals.

TOP TIP: Embrace the moment (and yoga). Reframing a situation to be exciting not frightening helps to keep you in the moment and takes the pressure off. Regular yoga is also essential to mounting an 18hh horse, in full ceremonial dress, from the floor in front of a crowd.

Thank you to Dubarry for supporting Sporting Dianas in fieldsports. See Dubarry’s range of sporting clothing and footwear here. Interested in the military? Read our feature about the craftsmen behind our military uniforms.