Monday 3 June 2013

Horses - the counter balance to Monarchy ...

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.
Carriage Driving Windsor Great Park

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.
A side saddle

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.

George Stubbs' painting of 'Eclipse'
a British Thoroughbred (1764-1789)
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.
The Queen with Monty Roberts
in 1996

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 ...

Fell pony in Cumbria
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).

The advertisement this year
The Jubilee Pageant was a brilliant display of horsemanship, showmanship and discipline around the world ... it combined horses, music and dance and brought together more than 500 horses and 800 human performers.

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.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


J.L. Murphey said...

Long live Bess on this her coronation anniversary.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I am happy to know how much care the Queen invests in her horses, how open-minded she is on new methods of treating them, and how she clearly and genuinely loves them.

In our last presidential election, the discovery of how badly Romney's wife treats her race horses hurt him greatly in the race. No one wants a leader who lacks compassion, and I'm sorry -- like wife, like husband.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hilary--A lovely post! I'll have to share it with my daughter, who rides and adores horses. :)

And, yes, the blogging community is so wonderfully supportive and encouraging, isn't it?

A Lady's Life said...

I don't ride but I take great pleasure in brushing horses and loving them.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Reading this is struck's amazing how much of an important role horses have played in our history isn't it??

Old Kitty said...

Queenie has that many horses!? How brilliant!! I think its great that her grandkids are now also enjoying this amazing equine relationship too!!

Take care

Theresa Milstein said...

I like the list about how to treat a horse.

Wow, hard to believe the coronation was 60 years ago. That's a long reign!

Manzanita said...

People from all walks of life are drawn toward horses. Think of how important horses were before the auto came on the scene. The handlers and trainers of the Queens horses must have the highest qualifications and knowledge of horses. Don't we wish all horses could have such intelligent care.

Mike Goad said...

I sometimes find it amazing how so many people here in America are so fascinated by the British royalty. I'm not, but I did find your post quite interesting

Chatty Crone said...

The Queen is very impressive - she looks good at her age and her mind is sound. She must be doing something right. I do love horses, but I don't ride them. sandie

Tina said...

I'm a horse lover, ever since I was about 6. Took lessons. My Aunt Risky has always had horses, so I've gotten to ride my whole life. It's amazingly relaxing, and the communication between you and your horse is unbelievable neat to experience.
Nicely done. And yes, this community is such a supportive one. I know you don't do awards...but I gave you another one for your non-collection ;-) I can't help it - I just want people to go read your great stuff!
Tina @ Life is Good

Janet Johnson said...

This was fascinating! I don't know anything about horses either, but they are beautiful creatures.

And I love that your blog has been such a benefit to you. It really is a great outlet for so many things.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I've never owned a horse, but I do love them.

I think the Queen has Corgis? I love them too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ JL .. thankfully she seems to be full of beans!

@ Dianne - I found the information very interesting ... but you've shocked me re Romney and that scenario .. that I didn't know: I agree if they can't treat the people/animals who rely on them, then they don't deserve to be in the Presidential seat.

@ Elizabeth - oh how lovely - I do hope she enjoys the information .. I want to do another on the history of the horse .. so as Keith from OE has mentioned below .. I'll post that sometime 'soon' ...

It was an interesting thought .. about how much the blog has helped me through the last 4+ years ..

@ A Lady's Life - the horses would adore being brushed, and cared for .. wouldn't we all sometimes!

@ Keith - yes horses have been around in our history, but in the history of the world .. and I was going to include that aspect - but another day! Their back story is a fascinating one ..

@ Old Kitty - yes she has .. so the tv informed me and that must be right! The whole family are equine oriented .. it must be an amazing bond ..

@ Theresa - the same for us ... we just forget. It is extraordinary to believe the Coronation was all of 60 years ago .. she's not quite the longest yet .. I think it's September 1915, when QE II will be longest reigning monarch ..

@ Manzanita - the jockey mentioned above started his love of horses with his father's pit ponies .. so horses transcend 'class'.

Horses were used in so many roles ... the Queen, I'm sure, has the best trainers, helpers, stable hands .. but she obviously cares so much .. and I'm sure all are treated with great respect ...

@ Mike - I rather thought you weren't one of the Royal 'luvvies' .. I just love the customs and tradition that revolve around royalty and the organisations associated with our pageantry and trades etc .. However - I'm glad you found the post interesting!

@ Sandie .. the Queen is amazing in her dedication to her job .. she is an inspiration to us all .. and sets her stall out, as she sees it her standards to adhere to ..

@ Tina - I've always wanted to enjoy horses, but fell off, they frightened me etc .. so they passed me by ..

Sounds like you had a lovely time as a kid and now, still riding .. and I can believe it's an amazingly relaxing pastime - especially when that communication kicks in ..

Your award to the non-doer of awards is brilliant .. and I'm so grateful you want to send people in my direction = thankyou!!! Just delighted.

@ Janet - well I'm glad it made sense .. and yes, they are stunning creatures ..

The blog has always been a benefit, but I'd really only put the intellectual and emotional elements together, when I was drafting this post ...

@ Teresa - I've never really been around horses, other than the odd try which ended in complete disaster - chucked to the ground!

The Queen does have corgis - I featured them in my dog post, and in the Chelsea flower show post 2012 ..

Cheers to you all - just so pleased you seem to have enjoyed it .. Hilary

Inger said...

Dear Hilary, you are something else, as we say here in the United States. And it is a compliment. I love horses too and used to ride. I had wondered if the Queen still rode hers. It is a good thing to have a Queen who is an animal lover, who takes such a strong interest in her horses, and who loves her small, but strong-minded, dogs. No lap dogs for her.

Julie Flanders said...

Oh, I love the fell pony! How adorable. I've never ridden horses as I'm kind of intimidated by it, but I love to watch them. Such amazing animals.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of horses and a lot of breeds. I know horse are expensive to raise and the queen can certainly afford them. Nice she even takes care of the old ones.
Last horse I rode bit me. I'm not much for riding either.

loverofwords said...

We have a horse farm across the street where they raise American Warm bloods. What a pleasure to see them run in their large paddocks. I think working with animals is therapeutic and helps to relieve stress. It is an expensive hobby, though. There were some wonderful scenes in "Pride and Prejudice" showing carriage horses. Another informative blog, Hilary, thank you.

Vallypee said...

A lovely post, Hilary. I am not either for or against the monarchy, but I would not be in their shoes for anything. Dreadful to be born into a job you cannot escape without comment, and certainly not because you don't feel like doing it. I am very impressed by this post, and even more impressed that the queen still rides. At 87, that's quite something.

Suzanne Furness said...

I have loved horses since I was a little girl, they are beautiful, noble creatures.

LTM said...

What a wonderful post! I love horses, and I think it would be so cool to have a large collection like that. To be able to have such a large collection. That picture of the full size v. the miniature horse made me giggle. :o) <3

M Pax said...

I would love one of the Queen's stables. It'd fulfill a childhood dream... I'd need some allowance to maintain it. I rode when I was younger. Horses are very majestic.

Jo said...

I used to ride as a kid in England, have only done so once in Canada, bit disasterous. I knew the Queen took a lot of interest in her race horses, didn't know how far her interest stretched though and that it included many different breeds. Wonderful information Hilary, thanks so much.


Southpaw said...

That's a cool tidbit. I love the photo of the Fell pony!

Julia Hones said...

What a beautiful message and conclusion, Hilary. Horses are humble creatures...
Blogging and writing are ways of connecting. They demand discipline, kindness, consistency. At the end of the day, love and passion make a difference in everything we do.

Janie Junebug said...

I read the authorized biography of The Queen Mother. It said she loved gambling on horses as she became older but quite often lost money and had to ask The Queen to help her out. Horses are so beautiful.


Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating post. I enjoy learning about royalty, and the horses, oh my, they are truly phenomenal!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Once again, another interesting post. I do love horses, but it's been a lot of years since I went riding. The last horse I rode was kinda pitiful I brought an apple with me, but the old mare I'd been rented didn't have a single tooth. Poor thing.

Hard to believe the coronation was sixty years ago, isn't it? My grandmother from Scotland was living with us at the time, and she gave me a book about the coronation. The pictures in it were beautiful. Too bad I don't still have it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - thanks so much .. I remember your A-Z posts about your journey across America and know horses featured prominently and showed your love of animals. I'd love to share your joy .. something that never happened in my life .. but the Queen and her love of animals is very apparent.

@ Julie - isn't the Fell pony gorgeous .. you and I are in the same category .. not too comfortable around the creatures, but love looking at them.

@ Alex - she funds her horses from her own pocket. Horses usually throw me .. I'm not happy with that - I haven't been bitten though!

@ Tasha - that must so wonderful to look out across at - and see the animals just grazing, or enjoying themselves. You're right about the working with animals .. it is very therapeutic and relieves stress. Like you I love seeing the animals portrayed in films, or in our pageantry .. and when they're 'dressed up' as they would have appeared in that era ...

@ Val - I'd hate to lose all the custom and tradition and that history .. swapping our pageantry for grey suits = no thank you!

Like you though I wouldn't like to live in a goldfish bowl .. the Queen and Prince Philip have been pretty impeccable in their lives and as you say still riding in their 80s ... now Prince Philip is 91 - 92 next Sunday ..

@ Suzanne - I loved the thought of them, and have always liked watching them .. just never quite caught the bug of riding ..

@ Leigh - I too would love to have a few or more horses, ponies and a farm to nurture as part of my life. Glad I put the picture in of the two horses for comparison .. they are sweet aren't they, those miniatures ...

@ Mary - what a fabulous dream to have .. where would you have your stables - around your astronomy observatory? Wonderful sight to see ...

@ Jo - I gave riding a try, my best friend rode .. but I never made the grade. I hadn't realised how involved the Queen was in the Rare Breeds and their protection, or in the breeding of her thoroughbreds -so glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Holly - thanks .. nice to see you ..

@ Julia - yes it's interesting how much can intertwine in our lives .. and how essential love and passion are when we strive to achieve our best as humans.

@ Janie - I know the Queen Mother certainly ensured her daughter grew up around horses .. but who knows what happened .. it's always possible I guess. The Queen Mother loved racing though and had racing horses herself ..

@ MJ - so pleased you enjoy the dual aspect of this post .. and both are incredible subjects, I agree ..

@ Susan - I love horses, have never got to grips with racing though ... the other events I love watching.

Your poor old ride - no teeth .. and she was still working - something slightly wrong there ..

re the Coronation - yes we had mugs, and I'm sure books, though I don't remember those - good memories to have re your grandmother though ..

Thanks so much - so delighted you're all enjoying reading this .. cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

It's well known that the Queen loves her horses and corgis more then their children who had a rather poor childhood. We saw the preparation for this event at the horse guards in London, they started to put up the seats probably for VIPs.
I was always afraid of horses, although my son started riding as a child, a drama for me to drive him there. Now I love them and can even pet them !
My grandma took me to the cinema to watch the coronation in 1953 ! What an event for a little girl. It was the first time I had been in a cinema !!

Lynn said...

I always love your informative posts like this. I wanted to attend that trooping of colors one June when I visited England, but my fellow travelers didn't want to brave the crowds. I would have loved to see Queen Elizabeth.

Glynis Peters said...

I love seeing HRH face light up when she is near a horse. I wish I could ride. I tried it once, and ended upside down with a slipped saddle. Last time I sat one one!

Laura Eno said...

I'm so happy you've found a greater purpose in blogging, dear Hilary. I know you've enriched my life with your topics and insights, opening avenues I might not otherwise have explored.
That Fell pony is beautiful. I don't think I've seen one before. The miniature horse cracks me up. It's so cute!
I loved and rode horses when I was much younger but haven't in years now. Never have I tried to sit sidesaddle. It looks like pure torture!

Bish Denham said...

That's a lot of horses!And you've written quite an informative piece, for someone who is not a horse person. Neither am I, though I have ridden them. I prefer donkeys.

I love that last picture of the miniature and the full sized running.

D.G. Hudson said...

Horses have always intrigued me.
When I was young, my mother would draw horses for me, and I would try to copy her drawing. It's how I became interested in art.

Hubs doesn't care for horses, so my kids and I went for a vacation ride once. The lady leading the trail ride didn't tighten the saddle enough, so it started slipping as we went uphill. But that's another story.

I do have a soft spot for the Queen, and my mother liked her enough to throw an Elizabeth into my formal name.

nutschell said...

wow 60 years! Long live the queen indeed--and their horses too:)

Karen Lange said...

I've always thought horses were such majestic animals. Thanks so much for sharing all of this info. I am so glad to be a part of your blogging journey. It's been such a blessing getting to know you a bit through your blog. Looking forward to all good things to come! :)

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Terribly sorry for not visiting your site as of recent. It's been rather hectic and I'm trying to catch up.

It is well documented the Queen's love of horses. And your in-depth article brings more to light. I know she rather likes to go to the occasional race.

I rode a pony one time at the London Zoo. I put the picture up on my blog a little while ago.

Did you see the Coronation celebrations on the telly?

Most importantly, this posting triggered an emotive sense within your heart. Bless you and the poignant reflection at the end of your posting.

Cheers and to your health, Hilary.


Sherry Ellis said...

Animals do understand kindness!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - I'm sure the Queen loves her children - but she is head of state and there are responsibilities - I'm sure as a mother she would have preferred to be with her family .. but that was not an option. I'm glad your son had the opportunity to try riding and you now love them.

You were lucky to have that treat with your grandmother .. a lovely memory ..

@ Lynn - I'm sorry your friends didn't want to brave the crowds - as I'm sure the Trooping of the Colour is an amazing sight in real life.

@ Glynis - the Queen's face does light up doesn't it .. I ended up on the ground, not even hanging on - unceremoniously dumped ...

@ Laura - I knew I was educating myself, and knew then I forgot the vicissitudes of my mother being terminally ill .. but had never separated the reason for blogging into an intellectual and emotional realisation before ..

Delighted to read you enjoy the blog with its various topics, insights and then opening those avenues that go elsewhere ..

Horses offer such a great experience .. I always wanted to ride, but obviously fear took over and the poor horse wasn't too happy either! Glad you enjoyed the photos ..

@ Bish - thankfully there were good reference sources .. donkeys are incredible creatures too .. Wiki provided me with good pics.

@ DG - congratulations on that Elizabeth in your name, my mother had too - I didn't get Elizabeth ..

I'd love to be able to draw lovely you could learn from her and then enjoy her love art too.

Oh dear - doesn't sound like a very good trek leader if that was allowed to happen and sounds an uncomfortable landing ..

@ Nutschell - yes 60 years on the throne .. they are all doing well considering!

@ Karen - horses are majestic aren't they .. and I'm honoured you're happy being here .. I love being with everyone too ..

@ Gary - no worries .. life is busy and there are definitely moments I feel overwhelmed.

I was glad the horse programme appeared on telly, as too the Coronation celebrations yesterday .. I did watch.

Just something clicked with the realisation as to how much the blog has helped the journey of terminal illness ... and my ability to come out into the light of my own life as I had something positive to get on with ...

Thanks Gary - I hope you're holding up with being so busy ..

@ Sherry - yes animals are great absorbers of feelings aren't they ..

Cheers to you all and thanks so much for coming by .. Hilary

jabblog said...

Horses - just overgrown dogs, really;-)

Patricia said...

My mum was always very interested in the Royal family and kept us posted over the years - more about their political actions than style and horses. My mum was not a horse fan, but she liked the polite and proper and thought the Queen should not just have a pressed nightgown every night, but as Queen she should have a different, clean, pressed nightgown every night!

My father met Queen Elizabeth at the end of WWII and he loved horses, especially the 2 huge work horses that he drove as a school bus or sleigh in the Canadian Prairies to get all the children in the area to school. He spoke to the Queen about Education (He was HM Education Officer in the Navy) and they shared a horse story

~Sia McKye~ said...

Very interesting post, Hilary. I can see the benefit of balancing cerebral stress of a high profile job and hands on care of animals.

Animals really don't care who you are or what your position is. You can relax around them and be yourself.

Horses ARE affectionate to those they care about. My Arab, Sassy, is one who likes to touch me, nuzzle me, she even tries to groom my hair, lol! She walks beside me if I'm walking in the pasture. She always greets me from where ever she is in which ever pasture when I come outside. If I stand still she lays her head on my shoulder.

My quarter horse, Doctari is a bit more reserved but he also greets me and comes up for petting or brushing.

Animals have always given me a sense of peace and so much love when I'm around them.


Kittie Howard said...

Long live the Queen! She is such a comforting constant!
I also know very little about horses, but your post was so beautifully written, I can see how they helped shaped Queen Elizabeth's reign.

The Queen is also knowledgable about Shakespeare. Years ago, one of our senators, Sen. Byrd from West Virginia, also a Shakespeare scholar (and very counter to his image) and the Queen would come together upon occasion to see if one could trick the other with a question about a Shakespearean play. The Queen usually won the day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janice .. I'm sure they are! Just never quite acclimatised this version!!

@ Patricia - I'm sure your mother was right about getting a different laundered nightgown every night - but I've no idea!

I'm sure the Queen was delighted to share a horse story with your father - and what an interesting tale to tell his children.

@ Sia - I think all animals do that don't they .. and the fresh air. Then an animal will just be with you .. so it makes sense about the relaxing around them.

I know we saw the animals being affectionate with their handlers and the Queen loved being with them ..

Your Arab, Sassy, sounds lovely .. and what fun to be around her and share those times with her .. endearing thought.

Doctari obviously appreciates you too ..

I hear you .. re the sense of peace and their love when you're around together ..

Thanks - gorgeous comment ..

@ Kittie - yes the Queen sure is of the gold standard, as we've just seen in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Coronation.

Interesting story about the Queen and your senator .. she used to put plays on for the royals when she was a child ... and she must have seen many performances of Shakespeare over the years ..

Another fascinating snippet of information that I didn't know about .. good for our Queen winning!

Cheers to you all ..

I'm getting on with the Coronation posts, in London today .. hope to get one up tomorrow .. Hilary

Romance Reader said...

A lovely post, Hilary and so interesting. I just showed all the photo to my horse-mad hubby!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Nas - if your hubby is horse mad he'd know way more than me .. and love the story here .. protecting all the breeds etc ..

Thanks so much .. Hilary

Tara Tyler said...

oh the life of royalty. beautiful horses & fascinating facts, as usual!

Rosaria Williams said...

Always a pleasure getting to know a bit of history through the eyes of a contemporary blogger! What a great service you provide, H.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Tara - glad you enjoyed the combination of royalty and horses ..

@ Rosaria - thanks - I guess I must throw a different light at times .. just delighted you enjoy the postings

Thanks to you both .. Hilary

Juliet said...

How interesting. I haven't really appreciated this side of the Queen fully. Am catching up on your fascinating posts now I have a spare moment - have been very busy. Thank you Hilary.