The Queen’s last ride: Her Majesty’s stud groom on her much-loved mare Emma

  • The late Queen’s stud groom has spoken of Her Majesty’s great equine loves – including her last and much-loved pony Emma.

    Terry Pendry was a guest on episode 18 of the Fell Pony Podcast, hosted by Tom Lloyd, which was released on 26 June. He discussed his career, from racing to the Household Cavalry, serving Her Majesty for nearly half a century.

    Mr Pendry was made a military knight in honour of his service this year, the latest accolade in his distinguished career.

    “I’d willingly give all my medals back to enjoy just one more day with Her Majesty,” he said. “We miss her so badly.”

    Mr Pendry said that, having had early riding experiences on cows, on his uncle Ray’s farm, which was “exhilarating”, his first pony, Kelly, was a £40 Hereford market buy.

    “He was a hard taskmaster, who could buck for England,” he said. “I saw the orchard from an upside-down position, hanging out of apple and pear trees, but he turned out to be an incredible pony.”

    Listen to the full podcast episode

    Mr Pendry rode pointers, went into racing as an apprentice, then moved to London with his wife Sue.

    “She wanted to see Princess Anne’s wedding presents, so we walked through Horse Guards Parade,” he said. “I thought ‘Horses. I know how to do that’, which is how I joined the Household Cavalry.”

    During his time with the regiment, Mr Pendry rode in Trooping the Colour; his first in 1974 and every year since, escorting The Queen along The Mall on Burmese.

    “You never get tired of it,” he said. “You can’t fail to be impressed by it, and it’s quite good fun, actually.”

    Mr Pendry said it was probably his influence that led to Her Majesty’s involvement with Fell ponies.

    “She was passionate about all our rare breeds, about wanting to save and look after them, in particular Fells and Highlands,” he said. “Sanction was her last riding horse, who we sadly lost in 2002, and really, she was getting to a certain age where I didn’t want her riding horses too much longer, because if she came off one, she wasn’t going to bounce. I encouraged her to swap to ponies.”

    Showing producer Lizzie Briant put Mr Pendry in touch with the late Thomas Capstick, who owned Carltonlima Emma.

    “He had this pony, and realised she wouldn’t last a winter on the fells,” Mr Pendry said. “He had her sold to Holland but I persuaded him that maybe he’d like to sell her to The Queen.

    “He said he wanted pound notes with The Queen’s face on them. I said ‘Awfully sorry, she doesn’t deal in cash, but she banks with Coutts and she’s good for it’. He said he’d do it – and I said only if he put her in foal to his top stallion. He said ‘You’re a hard taskmaster, Mr Pendry’, but he did it.”

    Mr Pendry said Emma always had “the most wonderful disposition”, and is still, aged 27, “firing on all cylinders”.

    “She’s semi-retired, but doesn’t want to be,” he said. “She’s an absolutely amazing pony.”

    Emma touched hearts across the world last year as she and Mr Pendry stood on the Long Walk at Windsor to say a final farewell to The Queen, and he said: “That was one of the saddest days of my life.

    “I served Her Majesty for 20 years in the Household Cavalry and 28 direct. At least two thirds of my life in service to the sovereign, and I just had to do that.”

    Mr Pendry said he knew, at Royal Windsor Horse Show 2022, “we didn’t have an awful lot of time left”.

    “She rode right to the end,” he said. “She rode Emma on 18 July, then two days later left for Scotland. And we all know how she came home.”

    Mr Pendry said there were two animals with whom The Queen had a “telepathic” connection; Sanction and Emma.

    “If The Queen wanted to turn left, Sanction did it without her even thinking it, and Emma was one of the same,” he said. “The Queen absolutely adored her.”

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