The history of the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers itself began in 1936. During that year, M.B. (Dick) Zwicker founded the Halifax Ride and Drive Club and began teaching students. In addition to his equitation program, he developed a drill that the students, mounted on their ponies, learned to perform.
This “Musical Ride,” was stabled in the premises on Bell Road, as it still is today. George Low constructed the building in 1908, as a stable for various horses including the Fire horses, Livery horses, Police horses and Fire equipment. It is a landmark building in present day downtown Halifax and has been recently designated as a heritage building.
Zwicker’s Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers was first and foremost a riding school, intended to be of benefit to city children who could not practically own and house horses. This way, city children could continue to learn the sport of riding. As the Lancers perfected their Musical Ride, another whole benefit blossomed – they became widely known and highly respected for their lively and clever performances.
In 1949, the Lancers were scheduled to receive their regimental colors from Lord Cornwallis (descended from the city’s founder). In the early hours of that very morning, tragedy struck. The stables were badly damaged in a devastating fire. Although 36 horses were miraculously led to safety, four well-loved ponies were lost. Despite their bereft spirits, the young students bravely groomed and braided their horses. They then presented themselves and their mounts to Lord Cornwallis. He, in turn, presented them with their colors: red, blue, gold and white (combining the colors of the Nova Scotia flag and the City of Halifax Crest). In his adulate address to the Lancers, he credited their determination and fortitude to their disciplined experience that was “developed by riding ponies.”
The stories of the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers are many and as bright as their colors. Over the years, the great legacy begun by Dick Zwicker has been carried on. Lancer students are highly respected in the field of equitation for their riding accomplishments. Many well known riders are products of the Lancer school.