In this week’s Royal special issue of Horse & Hound magazine (16 November 2017), Melanie Scott gets given an exclusive tour of The Queen's Highland pony stud at Balmoral Castle. Here’s a sneak peek...
This line up of ponies (from the left: Balmoral Pageant, Blamoral Beacon, Sunblush of Gaick, Blamoral Serene and Balmoral Brave) are oblivious to their paddock's backdrop — and the owner that might be enjoying watching them graze...
The team have prepared the haynets for when the ponies come off the hill, having dropped the deer off to the larder area
The office is a hub of activity for the admin that needs to be done for the Highlands, all of which are bred to work on the estate as a priority
There are only a few stables on the farm steading, which are rarely used — instead there is a covered tying-up area where the ponies are prepared for their work
The working ponies wear a specifically designed deer saddle while working out on the hill
The team is led by Sylvia Ormiston, the estate stud manager, who has had the job here for 10 years
Sylvia shares a moment with the foal Balmoral Bonnie
The stud may be the domain of The Queen, but it is kitted out with all the necessary modern facilities for a slick-running operation
On the day of H&H's visit the main stable block is a hive of activity with ponies and ghillies preparing for a day out on the hill
The working tack room for the hill ponies is packed with kit. The deer saddle is based on a pre-World War One pack saddle which is hinged at the wither and cantle to allow it to fit a variety of ponies
Balmoral Ulleam (William) is tacked up with the deer saddle
Jordan Headspeath with Balmoral Lossie and Balmoral Bonnie