The Queen of England has a lifelong passion for horses, and this is well known as she has been seen throughout her reign on horseback and cheering racehorses from the royal box.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth’s late husband was the longest serving FEI president, and Queen Elizabeth II, as well as other members of the Royal Family, have taken part in promoting equestrian sports. Elizabeth II hosts the Royal Windsor Horse Show every year in Windsor Park and up until the late 1960s she raced with her own-bred horses.
Although it would be hard naming all of the horses and ponies the Queen has ridden over the decades, she has shared in the Horse & Hound magazine the names of the horses she has loved riding, as well as the race horses she loved watching in the hippodrome.
Betsy is a black-brown mare the Queen used to ride in the 1960s. Betsy was full of character, and the Queen enjoyed riding him very much.
Presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1969 by The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, The Queen was spotted riding Burmese in several official events as well as for leisure. She rode her in Trooping the Colour and the mare retired in 1986 and spent the rest of her days in Windsor. Here, she passed away four years later at the age of 28. Currently, Burmese is buried in the grounds of the Home Park private.
Doublet is the same horse with which Princess Anne won the European Eventing Championships at Burghley in 1971. Although initially bred to become a polo pony, once they saw his potential for jumping he helped Princess Anne win several events.
For many years, Sanction was the Queen’s favourite. He was the last home-bred horse the Queen rode before deciding to only ride native ponies. Sanction was known for having a strong bond with the Queen and great intelligence, when they went for walks it seemed the horse knew the direction the Queen wanted to go before being instructed. He passed away in 2002, at the age of 24 and is also buried in the grounds of Home Park private.
The Queen and Emma still ride together and have a great connection. Carltonlima Emma has become so popular a kiwi company has created a 1:9 scale sculpture that can be bought for all fans to have at home. Emma was bred near Leeds, and the Fell Pony is one of Britain’s most loved native breeds, associated with the North of England as “fell” refers to the high mountainous areas with common grazing land.
To celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, the Fell Pony Society brought 120 ponies and lined them up in the red route to Windsor Castle of the Queen. She sat on His Royal Highness’ driving Fell pony team, followed by Emma. Fell ponies are always black, brown, bay or gray: Chestnuts, piebalds and skewbalds are not allowed.
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Besides riding herself, The Queen loves breeding thoroughbreds and riding racehorses. Throughout the years, she has developed a deep knowledge in order to understand the complexity of mating, rearing, training and riding these horses.
As they race at speeds of up to 65 km/h, horses are full of muscles and developed from birth. Amongst Elizabeth’s favourites we find Aureole, the horse that was bred by King George VI and the first horse she inherited from her late father. He was a very high-class racehorse - he won seven races and finished second in the Epsom Derby.
Moreover, Doutelle was the first top-class horse bred by the Queen herself. He won the Granville Stakes, the Derby Trials, Limekiln Stakes and 2000 Guineas Trial amongst others. Moreover, he placed in the Gold Cup and retired from The Queen’s Sandringham Stud, dying at the young age of eight.
Title image from Getty Images, last image by Henry Dallal