As the nation celebrates the Golden Jubilee this weekend , Horse & Hound Online pays tribute to the Queen’s love affair with horses

Click here to visit our pictorial tribute to the Queen and her horses.

Ever since King George VI bought a Shetland pony called Peggy for his daughter Princess Elizabeth’s third birthday, the bond between the Queen and horses lives on.

A love of racing

The Queen’s love of the Thoroughbred has been widely acclaimed and her involvement in breeding, owning and riding horses has been a source of much happiness and refuge from matters of state.

She received her first racehorse called Astakhan as a wedding present from the Aga Khan and developed a passion for flat racing after her accession to the throne.

Since then the Queen has owned more than 600 winners. Among the famous racehorses she has owned and bred are: Highclere (winner of the 1,000 Guineas and Prix de Diane, Dunfermline (winner of the Oaks and St Leger in the last jubilee year 1977) and Aureole (winner of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Coronation Cup, Hardwicke Stakes and second in the Derby).

Gift horses

The Queen has also received many horses as presents from heads of state. These include:

  • Surprise, a grey North African Barb gelding, presented by Lord Mountbatten on a visit to Malta in 1954
  • Mele-Kush, a Russian Akhal-teke stallion from Soviet leaders Krushchev and Bulganin on a visit in 1956
  • Bussaco, a Portuguese bull-fighters stallion from the President of Portugal in 1957
  • Pride, an Arab stallion from King Hussein of Jordan in 1958
  • Sultan, a classically bred Thoroughbred, from the President of Pakistan in 1959
  • Valentine, a bay gelding presented by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands during a state visit in 1982.

The Royal Mews

The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, now open to the public, is home to more than 30 horses that are used in the Queen’s official and ceremonial duties.

The majority of these horsesare Cleveland Bays and Windsor Greys, which by tradition draw the carriage in which the Queen is travelling.

With roots dating back to the 14th Century, today the Royal Mews is a living part of Britain’s heritage.

The many coachesand carriages on display include the Ivory-Mounted Phaeton made for Queen Victoria in 1842 and used by the Queen for Trooping the Colour, and the 1902 State Landau and the Glass Coach, used at royal weddings.

The most dazzling of all however is the Gold State Coach, which was built for George III in 1760, which will play a central role in the Golden Jubilee celebrations in London this weekend.

All the Queen’s Horses

An audience of more than 100,000 watched the equine extravaganza All the Queen’s Horses at the Royal Windsor Horse Show over four nights.

Staged in celebration of the Golden Jubilee, this unique performance brings together a cast of 1,000 horses and 2,000 participants in a spectacular never seen before.

If you missed the magic of the live performance, you can see a75 minute programme on BBC 1 at 5.55pm on Sunday 2 June.

For more information about special events taking place during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations click here.