Excerpt from The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA (1919): 2
Brand new subalterns, fresh from the Artillery School at Kingston, spilled out their knowledge of gun-drill and foot-drill, driving it home with the same withering sarcasm that had but lately been vented on themselves. Newly-made Sergeants and Corporals, full of lofty and patriotic fervour, thundered out orders and did guards with Spartan severity. Every morning the civilians were offered amusement as the procession of numnah riders (1) wound along the streets, bouncing from one side of their horses to the other, their faces fixed in an expression of suffering and despair, their hands clenched firmly in the numnah-lock. Those were the days of P.T. [physical training], of long runs before breakfast, when the warped tones of an embryo trumpeter called us up in the early hours of dawn.
(1) A numnah is a pad, made of felt or some other padding, occasionally sheepskin, between a horse’s back and its saddle. In cavalry training (and apparently in training of artillery riders) novices learned to ride bareback or on a numnah alone rather than in a saddle. Without stirrups, balancing can be tricky for novices, and justifiably results in “an expression of suffering and despair.”
The photograph above is Percy’s snapshot of “A Pal” who has long graduated from numnah riding. It was taken at Camp Petawawa in July 1916.