Horses were central to The Queen’s life from a very young age. She had her first riding lesson when she was just three years old and was given her first pony, the Shetland mare Peggy, by her grandfather King George V on her fourth birthday.
One of The Queen’s favourite horses was Burmese, a mare presented to her by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1969 when they came to perform at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The Queen rode Burmese side-saddle for 18 years at the Trooping the Colour ceremony, which celebrates the sovereign’s birthday.
The Queen was extremely knowledgable about breeding horses and her thoroughbreds won more than 1,600 races. The only British classic to elude her was The Derby at Epsom. She also bred British native Shetlands, Highlands and Fell ponies, which enjoyed considerable success in the show ring, along with some of her retired racehorses produced by Katie Jerram.
Our monarch was patron of the British Horse Society, the Fell Pony Society, the Highland Pony Society, the Shire Horse Society, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.