THE moment an Army veteran summoned a field full of horses by bagpipe has been captured in a spine-tingling video.
John “Jocky” Johnstone served in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles and was based in West Germany during the Cold War.
The 59-year-old gets help dealing with his Army experiences by spending time with horses at a charity facility in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.
Jocky, who learned to play the bagpipes while serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, always takes his instrument with him.
And one morning he decided to put on an impromptu performance for the horses – with amazing results.
The clip shows all 20 horses, some of which are hundreds of metres away at the start, gradually gather round and watch, transfixed by the sound.
Jocky, from Edinburgh, joined the Army in 1975 and left in 1990 to work as a bus driver in his home city.
Fellow veterans recommended that he get help dealing with his military experiences from Horseback UK.
The charity posted the amazing clip, filmed on Friday, to their Facebook page with the caption: “Time to bring out the bagpipes and summon the horses. Polly seemed particularly impressed. Thanks as always to Jocky Johnstone.”
The footage has been viewed over 451,000 times since it was posted the same day.
The clip begins with Jocky standing in a muddy field, where Horseback UK keep their therapy horses during the summer.
One particularly curious black and white horse, Polly, begins to circle around Jocky as he fires up the pipes.
Polly, a four-year-old, was the first horse Jocky had ridden when he first visited Horseback UK – and he was convinced she would bolt.
However, she and the other horses in the field can be seen lifting their heads as the musical notes echo across the field.
Slowly but surely, around 20 horses begins to gravitate towards Jocky – while Polly stands right in front of him as he plays.
After a couple of minutes the former infantryman is surrounded by curious horses – who are all staring at Jocky and his pipes.
As the clip ends, all of the horses from the field have gathered around and appear to be listening patiently to his playing.
Jocky, who also attends a veterans’ breakfast club in Edinburgh once a month, decided to seek help through Horseback UK around 18 months ago.
The charity use horsemanship and working outdoors to help veterans and disengaged teenagers to deal with trauma, helping them to grow in confidence and regain self esteem.
Since 2009, 500 military personel have visited the site in Aboyne to undertake their three-week residential programme which has recently been accredited by the SQA.
After completing a three-week course there, the former bus driver decided to give back – and returned to mentor other veterans.
Speaking today, Jocky said: “The horse at the front of the video, Polly, she was the first horse I ever rode. I thought she would bolt and run off once I started playing, but she stayed. It wasn’t the reaction I expected, and the rest were just as curious. It was fantastic.”
He added: “I’d never been on a horse before in my life before I went. I completed three phases, including horseback archery, which was quite out there.
“It has given me confidence in myself, it’s made me better with people, and I’m able to be more assertive. I want other veterans to know this exists, being in the army never leaves you, it still hasn’t really left me.
“I’m 60 next year, but now I feel as if I’m 40, and I’m going back up next month to help them out again.
Emma Hutchison, Horseback UK co-founder, said today: “Jocky always brings his pipes with him so we decided to go up to the summer field, where a lot of the horses are, kept to see their reaction.
“Polly has an interesting story behind her too. She was rescued at six months old by World Horse Welfare, she was stuck in a barbed wire fence.
“We’ve had her for around two years now and she is becoming much more sociable and curious.”
On social media, Noel Andersen said: “What a great way to welcome in the new day and another plus for horses to show what great taste they have in music.”
Meryl Spencer added: “They’re definitely thinking ‘will he please stop that awful noise!’”
Rebecca Stevens wrote: “My new favourite video. The horses look so confused.”
Emma Starmer commented: “Awesome. This is so great. I defy anyone to watch and not smile.”