Rare horses from Azerbaijan spent two months travelling to perform for The Queen at Royal Windsor Horse Show this weekend (12-15 May).
The Karabakh horses thrilled the packed audience with their displays of riders standing, going under and leaping on and off their mounts.
The chestnuts galloped across the arena, in the home park below Windsor Castle, behind a lead grey.
“We are honoured to have this opportunity to perform for Her Majesty the Queen,” said Lionel Zetter, director of the European Azerbaijan Society.
“This occasion manifests the great love both our nations share for horses, and is a great opportunity to show the British public our magnificent national animal, the Karabakh stallion,”
A total of 15 horses came to Windsor via Russia to perform for The Queen, with dancers who performed alongside the horses in traditional dress.
It is not the first time they have put on a display for Her Majesty; in 2012 they came to Windsor to take part in the diamond jubilee pageant.
There are now nearly 2,000 Karabakh horses in Azerbaijan but the breed nearly died out in the 1990s as a result of civil and ethnic wars.
The rescue of hundreds of horses from a stud farm in Agdam, a town in the Karabakh region in 1993 is credited with saving the breed.
The two groups of owners who evacuated the horses risked their lives to re-enter the farm while Armenian forces were bombarding the area.
In 2007, Azerbaijan’s ministry of agriculture drew up a 15-year plan for preserving and publishing the breed.
Most of the horses are now used for chovqan, an ancient form of polo and a national sport in Azerbaijan.
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The game goes back 2,400 years and in the Middle Ages was key to the training programmes of some Turk calvary units.
The game is said to be the origin of modern day polo and in Azerbaijan people of all ages turn out to support their teams.
The Karabakh horses can be seen in action on ITVthis evening (15 May) when Her Majesty’s 90th birthday celebrations at Windsor are broadcast live. The show starts at 8.30pm.