The Queen: A History with Horses

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It’s normally considered ungallant to mention a lady’s age, but when that lady is 87 years old, happens to be Her Majesty the Queen, and continues to ride her beloved horses whenever she can – well, it would be less than gallant not to mention it.

Nobody who saw her face when Estimate won the Gold Cup could doubt that this was a moment when all the cares of her position, the responsibilities thrust upon her by accident of birth, were forgotten in pure joy and excitement.

And equally, when you look at the footage of the Queen alone with any one of her 180 horses you can see that there is a special bond, possibly closer even than the bond she has with her Corgis. Those of us who own horses may have a different experience – we have to muck out, worry about paying for stabling, feed and horse insurance, and be out there every morning and every evening; but the bond between us and our horses is exactly the same.

Possibly it’s a relationship where she can just be herself. The horses know nothing of her status; she is just another human being. They are not out for patronage or influence; there is no ceremony, no deference. For the Queen there is just the relationship of a woman to her horses, she does not have to be the Queen for them, she can just be Elizabeth who has loved to be with them since her grandfather gave her a pony for her 4th birthday.

Often she is seen with Monty Roberts, famous as a ‘horse whisperer’; perhaps he has passed on that art. Could it be that the Queen whispers to her horses, sharing with them her concerns, worries, dreams and hopes? It would be nice to think that she has willing ears into which she can pour her cares knowing that her secrets will always be safe.

Whatever it is, it works. To have any passion is to have life and the Queen continues to live her life to the full, working as few her age have to. If her horses help her to do that then we should honour them too.

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