200 years ago, as today, no part of military procedure was left to chance. There was specific drill for manoeuvring a horse, and cutting with a sabre, but it did not start or end there. Before you can ride off to fight the French, you need to get onto your horse, and once the French have been sent back in bloody ruin, you need to get off again so you can have a sit down, and perhaps a nice cup of tea. The mounting drill used by the 15th is as close as we can get to the actual 19th century drill, and forms a smart and military end to every display. As far as we are aware the 15th are the only Napoleonic cavalry re-enactment group that use correct mounting and dismounting drills as part of the display.
All orders to be given by the senior officer or NCO, other than where indicated, and are relayed by trumpet for larger formations. All orders to be obeyed in "snappy" military fashion.
Groom your horse and dress in the appropriate order of dress. When you have groomed and saddled your troop horse and are in the prescribed order of dress with the correct side arms you will announce this to your section NCO. When your whole section is ready, your section NCO will communicate this to the Senior NCO, who will report to the OC. The senior corporal or dragoon will be informed that they are Right Marker.
The senior NCO signals for all Dragoons to go and stand next to their horse. The girth should be tightened ready for mounting. The horse should be unclipped from the lines, the stirrups run up and reins over the horses head. Right Marker should immediately file out and take post at the designated mounting area.
The senior NCO signals for all Dragoons to lead their horses out and form on the left of the Right Marker. Unless ordered otherwise all dragoons should form in a single rank. Stirrups should be run down ready for mounting and reins put back over the horses head. Once each dragoon's horse is prepared for mounting he should stand in front of his horse, facing the horse. The reins should be held either side of the bit, with the arms parallel with the ground and the elbows slightly bent.
This order will be given once the whole troop is standing correctly in front of their horses. Whilst holding the reins in your right hand just below the bit, take a large step with your right foot to the near side of your horse. Pivot on your right foot so that you are facing front, roughly level with the front of the saddle, holding the reins below the bit with your right arm fully extended.
Turn to face your horse, transferring the reins into the left hand, and taking a contact on the horse's mouth. Place your left foot in the stirrup and grasp the bow and cantle of your saddle in your left and right hands respectively.
Straighten your left leg, standing in the stirrup momentarily before throwing your right leg over the saddle and sitting the horse at the attention. Do not adjust anything other than your dressing, to ensure that the line is properly dressed off.
Unhook your sabre, place your right foot in the stirrup, make sure that your reins, girth and accoutrements are in order. Once all is in order, return to the attention. When you are ready (and NOT before), call out your position as you become ready. This is done from right to left, starting with the right marker. When 'telling off' ensure you are at the attention. Snap your head smartly to the left and call out in a loud, clear, voice your number in the rank. Having called out your number, snap your head smartly back to the front.
Right marker will be 'one', the man next to him 'two' and so on. The last man in the line will not snap his head to the left (he knows there is nobody to his left) but will call out his number followed by "Last Man, Sir". Upon hearing this, the OC will know that the entire detachment is ready for action. The next thing to happen will most likely be an order for the detachment to tell off in either 'files' or 'threes' prior to moving off.
The OC will form the detachment into a line, usually at the 'Order' i.e. 18 inches knee to knee, but occasionally, where space permits, at the 'Open Order' i.e. with sufficient space between dragoons for a horse to pass.
Pat/scratch the neck/ears of your horse until the command 'Front' is given, at which time, return to the attention.
As always starting with the right marker, snap your head smartly to the left and tell off by files. The right marker is 'right' the man to his left is 'left', the next man is 'right' and so on, until 'Last Man, Sir'.
Left of files rein horses back by one length, dressing to the right of the line.
Transfer your reins to your right hand. With your left hand reach down, grasp scabbard at the top suspension ring, and hang from belt hook. Return reins to your left hand and return to the attention.
Keep holding your reins in your left hand your reins in your left hand. Use your right hand to grasp the end of the reins and pull them through your left vertically until you have a firm contact on the horses mouth and 6 -12 inches held above your left hand. On the command 'Front' smartly drop the loose end of rein to the right of your left hand and return your right hand to the 'Attention' position.
Take your right foot from the stirrup.
Upon receiving this order, swing your right leg over the horse and stand upright in the left stirrup, with your left hand holding the reins on the front of the saddle and your right hand at the rear. The right marker (who will be 'behind' you) will raise his right arm straight above his head. When he can see that the whole detachment is ready to dismount he will slap his right hand down on his saddle. At this point, take your left foot from the stirrup and drop smartly to the ground.
Without doing anything else at all, grasp your reins in your right hand immediately below the bit and stand at the attention, next to the horse's left shoulder, right arm fully extended, in the same position as 'Stand To Your Horses' above. Pay particular attention to the dressing of the line, dressing to the right as ever.
Take your reins over the horses head, flip both stirrups over the saddle (do NOT run them up) and stand to your horse again, holding the loose end of the reins in your left hand.
Starting with the right marker, in succession lead your horse away to the horse lines, stable stall etc. not leading away until the man to your right has done so. If you need to travel to the left of the formation take your horse along the back of the line, never the front.