The Parachute Regiment pony mascots date back to 1950 when Pegasus I, a black New Forest pony, was presented to 1 PARA by the Lt. Ben Arkle. During his time with 1 PARA, Pegasus served in Cyprus before going to Egypt in 1952. He returned to the UK in 1954 and proved very popular in the Aldershot area, as well as regularly touring with the Band. On one occasion when the band was playing in Ryde, Isle of Wight without Pegasus in attendance, the public demanded to know where he was.
Over the years a number of Battalions also obtained ponies as mascots. One pony, Bruneval I in 1962 was serving with 2 PARA in Cyprus when African Horse disease broke out and was unable to return with his unit to the UK. He was given to 70th Sqn, RAF with an offer from Air Marshall Sir MacDonald to buy 2 PARA a pony on their return to the UK. It appears that Bruneval didn’t take to the RAF, he was described as having a temperamental disposition and often ran away down the runway. The decision was taken to retire him to Limassol Zoo where he grew old with two donkeys and a camel for company.
On 11th November 1965, the decision was taken at a conference of Commanding Officers and endorsed by the Regimental Council the following day, that the services of Battalion ponies would be dispensed with immediately. In future there would be a Regimental Pony Mascot. This was to reduce the issues of stabling and manpower required to look after them.
Sgt. Ringway, a Skewbald Miniature Shetland Stallion, took on the role as Regimental Pony Mascot. He was presented to the Regiment by the PRA in 1962. Following a successful performance at the Allied Forces Parade in 1975, whilst in Berlin with 1 PARA, he was promoted to Sergeant. The German Press and National TV were invited to the barracks to see him marched into the Sergeants Mess by the Band and Drums and given his new Sergeants coat by the Commanding Officer. On being taken into the Mess the RSM read him the Mess rules. The Mayor of Spandau sent him his congratulations and a bag of carrots, whilst an elderly lady sent twenty Deutschmarks to buy food. He died whilst still with 1 PARA in Berlin in 1975. Obituary notices were placed in the Times and Telegraph newspapers.
From records in the Airborne Assault Archive it appears that there was some discussion whether the Regiment should continue to have a Mascot. However, in February 1977 Sgt. Tex Banwell presented the Regiment with Pegasus II (or ‘Peggy’ to his friends) and was flown out to Berlin on a Hercules to join 2 PARA. During the Queens Birthday Parade in 1977 he collapsed from sun stroke but recovered. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 1978 after being inspected by the Colonel in Chief, the Prince of Wales. In 1979 he was destroyed following a leg injury.
Sgt. Pegasus III was donated to the Regiment on the 5th May 1980, by Mr Peter Heims as a replacement to Pegasus II. Sgt. Pegasus came to the Regiment aged 5 years old having been rescued from a life of neglect and mistreatment. On the 13th May 1980 he was inspected on parade by the Colonel-in-Chief. Following his steadiness on parade on Airborne Forces Day in 1980 and participating in the parade for the Royal Wedding he was promoted in July 1981 to Lance Corporal, with following promotions to Corporal in March 1983 and Sergeant in January 1990. Not all public duties went to plan. During an appearance in 1991 at the Savoy hotel, he fell asleep whist on public duties and on the occasion of the Queen Mother’s Birthday Parade he attended a call of nature whist on the parade.
In July 1995, Sgt. Pegasus III there were discussions as to whether he should be put down due to continued bad health. The new Pony Major, Sgt. Soane prescribed a course of Tender Loving Care, along with a new companion. The new companion was Dodger, a three year old brown Shetland pony was donated by Mrs M Ripley to keep Sergeant Pegasus III company. In his younger years he was described as having a “frisky temperament” that “frustrated the efforts of the Pony Major to train him for ceremonial duties”. Pegasus recovered and was soon on parade for PARA 90 at St. Pauls. Cathedral. Pegasus was also on parade for Sgt. Soane’s wedding in 1990. In 1992, Dodger was given his official parade name of Falkland.
Following Pegasus III retirement to Dover, a new pony was presented to the Regiment. Pegasus IV was presented to the Regiment at a platoon passing out parade by Col. (Retired) and Mrs Ben Arkle at Catterick on the 15th January 1999. Pegasus IV and Dodger were posted from Aldershot to new stables at Colchester in November 2001.
In addition to the official mascots, there have been a number of unofficial mascots. One of most memorable being Myrtle the Chicken. Lt. Col. Joseph Glover used to jump with Myrtle on a regular basis, including his jump into Arnhem. Myrtle died when she was caught in cross-fire during the battle. Lt. Col. Glover buried her with full military honours with the assistance of his batman who remarked “she was game to the last”.
1950-66 Pegasus I 1 PARA Mascot
1954-62 Bruneval I 2 PARA Mascot
1954-66Coed Coch Samswn3 PARA Mascot
1957-61Geordie I 17 PARA (V)Mascot
1962-65 Geordie II 17 PARA (V) Mascot
1962-65Bruneval II 2 PARA Mascot
1962-75Sgt. RingwayJunior Company Depot PARA/ Regt. Mascot
1964-65Sgt. Arnhem 10 PARA (V)
1977-79 LCpl. Pegasus IIRegt. Mascot
1980- 98Sgt. Pegasus III Regt. Mascot
1985- 2011Falkland (Dodger) Regt. Mascot
1999- 2014Pegasus IV Regt. Mascot
2014-presPegasus VRegt. Mascot
Pony Majors/ Pony Handlers
Pte I Forrester
1966 Pte Strathdee
1977- 79Pte S Mulholland*
1989- 95Sgt D “Soapy” Soane
1995- 02Cpl Osborne
2002- 06Pte Bryant
2007- 13Cpl A McCree
* Believed to be first to be hold appointment of Pony Major.