The tradition of a black Shetland pony as mascot for the Regiment originated from our antecedent regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It dates to 1929 when Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, presented the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders with a black Shetland gelding. The name 'Cruachan' comes from Ben Cruachan, an iconic mountain in Argyll and Bute and is also the battle cry of Clan Campbell. The original Cruachan continued to serve as the mascot until his retirement in the late 1930s.
Cruachan II, another black Shetland gelding, was presented to the Battalion in 1952 and took over the role as the Regiment’s Mascot. On the units return from the Korean War and the Far East, tens of thousands lined Princes Street in Edinburgh to watch the parade - with the little pony right at the front of the procession. Slightly taller than his predecessor, Cruachan II was known to enjoy several beers and famously bit through Queen Elizabeth’s glove during a parade. He saw service in several places such as Germany and Cyprus before retiring in1979. There then followed a period when the custom of the regimental mascot fell into abeyance, and it wasn’t until1995 that Cruachan II was eventually replaced.
Cruachan III, the last regimental mascot of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders took up the role in October 1995 when he was six years old. Cruachan III was purchased by the officers and soldiers of the regiment, and he was beautiful black Shetland pony stallion, standing just over 9 hands high; his father was Harviestown Phyllapine, a Reserve Champion at the Royal Highland Show. His first public appearance as the Regimental Mascot was fittingly at the 1stBattalion Drumhead Service held on the 25 October 1995 to commemorate Balaklava Day. Cruachan served with the battalion across the UK including several operational tours of duty to the Balkans, Iraq, and Northern Ireland. Cruachan III even gained the distinction of being promoted to Lance Corporal in 2001.In 2006, on the formation of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Cruachan remained on as mascot to the Argyll’s, who were now the 5th Battalion of the new regiment, before being formally adopted in 2009 as mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. On 2 July 2011, Her Majesty the Queen accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh presented new colours to the Regiment in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh and it was Cruachan who marched in front of the six battalions on this historic day. Cruachan III retired from service age 23 years on the last night of the 2012 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, having led the guard of honour at the show’s finale.
The British Horse Society named Cruachan III as its equine personality of the year in 2016 and he received an award for his charity work from the veterans’ organisation Erskine in 2017. Erskine named him as one of its 100 heroes, to celebrate the organisation’s centenary — the only animal to receive this accolade. Cruachan III enjoyed his retirement and became a companion to the new regimental mascot until he sadly passed in 2018.
Cruachan IV was gifted to the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2012 as a four-year-old, coming from the Clothie Stud in Dyce. Quickly nicknamed ‘Four’, he was presented to Her Majesty the Queen for approval before he began his training at Redford Barracks, and he undertook his first official engagement in 2013.
Cruachan IV’s new companion is ‘Nightcap’ and when not undertaking public engagements in his role as mascot, Cruachan IV spends most of his time with ‘Nightcap’ in stables at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh where both are cared for by the Regiment’s Pony Major. When weather permits, both horses can often be seen at Portobello beach where they enjoy the soft sand and sea water.
Cruachan IV has been notionally promoted to the rank of Corporal and this is more an honorific distinction in recognition of his service to the Regiment since 2012. He also is entitled to wear the operational medals awarded to the Regiment during his tenure as mascot. Cruachan IV can often be seen at the head of many of the Regiment’s ceremonial events and he is a regular visitor to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Royal Guard at Balmoral. He continues to enjoy being the centre of attention drawing large crowds wherever he appears.