In this year of celebration at the Coronation of Her Majesty, the Queen, sixty years ago ... there are numerous articles, magazines, editorials, a DVD on Coronation Britain, tv programmes – various ... all to be expected as we learn the Queen counter balances matters of State by time with her horses.
|The Queen riding with Ronald Reagan|
in Windsor Great Park
Princess Anne remarked her pram was an extension to the Queen’s horses ... but obviously that equine love has been imbued in the Queen’s children and grandchildren ... through their polo playing, or as with Princess Anne and her daughter through representation at the highest level, especially the Olympics.
Prince Philip too has his love of carriage driving, which over the years we have seen him compete with the Queen watching on ... their love of equestrianism has been a unifying bond for the Royal family.
Her knowledge of each of her thoroughbreds is prodigious, her memory of her bloodlines strong ... while she reads the Racing Post first thing in the morning ... notes are to hand when she visits her stables ...
Horses usually foal at night away from predators’ eyes, and can hold off if the weather is dreadful, as in this year ... the Queen has in total about 180 horses and ponies in her stables, of which 25 are brood mares ...
... she cares a great deal about her brood mares ... wanting to ensure that each generation is faster, fitter and happier – improving the blood line.
She loves riding and takes whatever opportunity is around ... her 87th birthday this year was spent with her horses, at a stable in Hampshire ... where she was making notes on the new foals ... but looking very relaxed and happy ...
... we know she’s an extremely competent rider, having seen her ride side-saddle at the Trooping of the Colour, which marks the official birthday of the British Sovereign – usually on the second Saturday in June, this year it is on the 15th June.
British Kings and Queens have been breeding race horses for nearly 500 years – the thoroughbred is the fastest equine breed on the planet ...
Apparently in the Coronation year, 1953, the Queen instigated contacting Sir Gordon Richards, the very highly respected jockey, to help her understand her horses ...
... Sir Gordon introduced the “Laying on of Hands” practise to the Queen for her horses, this was not standard procedure in the 1950s ... but shows the Queen is enterprising and open-minded about the training and treatment of her horses.
Also in the 1950s she consulted a neurologist about the over-excitable thoroughbred sire, Aureole, to help calm him, which did seem to have some effect ...
... and this thought process continued when in 1996 Monty Roberts, The Horse Whisperer, was invited to Windsor to demonstrate his ideas ... the Queen was very encouraging and they stay in contact.
The Queen ensures that in retirement her horses continue to be well looked after, and takes as much interest in their welfare at this stage ... often where the horses act as ‘nannies’ to the leading yearlings ...
The Queen has 43 British breeds based at her five stables, Windsor, Hampton Court, Hampshire, Norfolk and Balmoral ... she is an active participant in ensuring that rare breeds survive, as listed in the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Highland Ponies – who round up sheep with a whistle, and are so well suited to working in the Highlands – they carry deer carcases off the hill, or trek with tourists ..
The Queen rides her Fell ponies when she’s at Windsor ... enjoying the freedom of the Great Park ... she has not retired to an armchair to consider her options!
|Highland Pony Trekking|
In May each year she hosts one of Britain’s most famous horse events, the Royal Windsor Horse Show, in what is effectively her back garden, The Home Park – the private estate attached to the Castle ... it is a celebration of all things equestrian ...
- Pony club games,
- Exotic breeds
- Carriage riding
- Glittering displays by the Queen’s Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment
- Rare Breeds
- The Diamond Jubilee Equestrian Pageant 2012 held on the last evening of the Horse Show brought the equestrian world to Windsor – performers from 16 countries (Inuits from Canada, cowboys from Oklahoma, presidential bodyguards from India, Cossacks from Russia and Huasos from Chile).
According to the article in The Telegraph, although every continent will be represented ... the quarantine regulations for horses from Africa required it would instead be represented by zebra and cattle!
|Three Mares and Foals - painted by|
George Stubbs in a landscape
(1763 - 1768)
The horse world has shown us a more intimate side of the Queen, and we appreciate her understanding of her horses, her connection with them ...
... horses will reflect the best in human nature:
- if you are kind
- if you are consistent
- if you are disciplined
- if you show affection
|"Lath" the first thoroughbred foal, in|
1732, from the Arabian Godolphin, who
went on to be a very successful sire;
painted by James Seymour
... they will reward you ... it is not possible always to win ... but that’s not important at the end of the day ... the passion and love for her horses shows us The Queen’s human side ...
... where she enjoys the intellectual aspect of trying and testing ways to improve her horses, while the emotional element shows her passion: which has proved a healthy counter-balance to the role of Monarchy.
|Full size v miniature|
Her in-depth fascination for and great knowledge of the creature that is at the centre of this equestrian sport ... are both an escape and an emotional outlet.
It’s been interesting to write about the Queen and her horses, I know very little about them, cannot ride ... but when I wrote the last paragraph, I suddenly thought ...
... yes, that’s what this blog has given me ... an intellectual outlook on life, yet that emotional release, when my mother was ill, through the great blogging community.
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