This painting shows a Horse Holder moving off with the section horses, after the other three troopers have left their horses in his care to go into action, or as they called it “go off on a stunt”.
Two Troopers of another section are seen behind heading into the area of action. You can tell by the expressions of the horses that they are eager to get away from the direction in which the noise of military action is taking place. The basic unit of the Australian Light Horse was the Section, which comprised four riders and their horses. The third rider in the section was always the Horse Holder. Trooper one would pass his horse’s reins between the jaw and the headstall of horse number two, and then to the right hand of the Horse Holder, Trooper two would hand his horse’s reins to the right hand of the horse holder and Trooper four would hand his horse’s reins to the left hand of the Horse Holder. Thus the Horse Holder controlled two horses with each hand, his own and one led horse on the left with his left hand and two led horses on the right with his right hand.
The usual mode of operation for the Australian Light Horse was to ride to an attack position, where three riders would dismount and hand their reins to the horse-holder and go forward to attack, or to take a defensive position, while the horse-holder would withdraw the horses to wait out of firing range in what was hopefully a safe position. When the troops required their mounts again, to either go forward or withdraw, the horse-holder would quickly return leading the three horses for the rest of the section to remount and move off.