Well it is about seven weeks since I was last on the Horse, and as I looked out to see the rain had cleared, I wondered what had happened to my resolution to be fit and ready for the “final push” ………

The good news though, was that the day’s work was to be on the lower back leg (fetlock?) so less climbing would be involved. The even better news was that we had eight volunteers from the 702 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service, based at Yeovilton – and they really would be fit!

Nick Tarrier and Eliott Green , from the Dorset Countryside Ranger Service had set up early so the lads were already in action when I arrived and were rapidly adjusting to the different challenges. After all, being a helicopter mechanic working to the finest tolerances is just a bit different from wielding a mattock on a hillside in a high wind! But adjust they did – and with a lot of banter and good humour they were soon shifting gravel, soil and turf.

I learned from the lads that 702 Squadron is a training squadron and that where possible, community projects form a part of the basic training. We were very lucky that one of Yeovilton staff had read about the project in the Register (our local free magazine) and had offered the lads for up to six days. With another day from the scouts, this will complete the “final push” and our Horse will be back in shape.

One of the main tasks of their first day was to fill the revetment under the hind leg with the turf, so that we could finally eliminate the white scar on the hillside that has been there for so long. After a nervous few weeks, when the turf on the front back leg had appeared to die, it is now showing good signs of re-growth, so we are pretty confident the plan is working. I certainly hope so as I did a fair bit of the turfing!

The lads had pretty well finished the hind leg as I headed home for lunch and they took a well-earned rest in the drizzle that had just set in. Luckily it was short lived and by the time I returned they had moved on to complete a makeover on the King’s boot before hauling all the tools up the hill and heading back to base.

As John Hayes and I surveyed the results of the day’s work, it was difficult to visualize how it had been just a few hours ago. And it was easy to see that these guys are used to precision and absolute cleanliness – as the leg was groomed to perfection and certainly ready for parade!

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