Amid ongoing changes to the British Army under the banner of austerity, the bemusing statistic of four legged firepower outweighing the heavy metal variety persists.
Recently, the Conservative Defence Minister Lord Astor admitted: "The Army currently has 485 horses, serving in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the Household Division and at the Defence Animal Centre."
The last time horses were used in a combat role by the British Army was World War I, when a million were sent to the frontline and only about 62,000 survived. During World War II, General Orde Wingate and his British Chindit raiders used horses and mules to carry supplies behind enemy lines in Burma.
Despite their historic sacrifice, the use of horses in modern military is mainly ceremonial, with the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and Household Cavalry taking on most of the official roles.
Despite the tank being a key feature of the Army since World War I, with significant numbers sent to the former Yugoslavia during the Balkans War and the US-UK Iraq invasion in 2003, Lord Astor conceded: "The total number of Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks is 227."
The chairman of the British Armed Forces Federation countered: "The figures don't necessarily mean we have got too many horses, it's more likely the figures mean we don't have enough tanks.
Tory peer Lord Astor said the total does not include armoured troop carriers known as “infantry fighting vehicles.” He said that as well as the 227 main battle tanks, another 141 “Challenger variants are also in service”.