Queen Elizabeth’s Horse Wins Historic Gold Cup At Royal Ascot

A beaming Queen Elizabeth II received the Gold Cup trophy on Thursday after becoming the first reigning British monarch in history with a winning horse in Royal Ascot’s biggest race.

The 87-year-old queen watched joyously as, Estimate, her much-fancied young filly crossed the finish line.

The queen, who has been on the throne for 61 years, has attended Ascot every year since 1945. Thursday’s win was her 22nd overall at Ascot, but the first in the signature Gold Cup.

The Queen joins with her horse, Estimate,  in the Winners Enclosure, a first for a reigning monarch in the race’s 207-year history.

The horse-loving queen is widely respected as an expert on horse breeding and racing.

According to the BBC, the queen has won various races at Ascot at least 21 times, the first, famously, came just two weeks after her 1953 Coronation when her horse, Choir Boy, won the Hunt Cup.

The 87 year old Queen Elizabeth II joins with jockey Ryan Moore as they celebrate winning the Gold Cup

Queen Elizabeth II is presented the Gold Cup by her son Prince Andrew, duke of York, after her horse “Estimate” wins.

Estimate, the Queen’s winning filly



Are Hackney Carriage Horses … History?

Hackney horses were once a common sight in Great Britain as they carried wealthy passengers in grand carriages.

But now the numbers of the famous Hackney horses have fallen so low they have been put on the rare breeds ‘critical’ list.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) says that with the number of female breeders in existence reduced to fewer than 300 the situation is dire.

Breeder Barbara Stockton from The Hackney Horse Society (formed in 1883), said the situation was increasingly desperate.

During the 18th and 19th century, the Hackney horses were in high demand. They were famed for their beauty, high head carriage and lofty knee action.

This was an era of great flamboyance and the ownership of smart and flashy carriage horses was a real status symbol.

Having smart looking Hackney Carriage Horses was the mainstay during that time, when flaunting wealth was a lifestyle.

Hackney horses were bred to be elegant and strong with the power to pull the heavy carriages. They had the ability to keep going for miles at a trot.

The admiration of the early ancestors of the Hackney horses goes back for centuries. They were highly thought of by Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elisabeth I who all passed acts concerning horse breeding and the value of the Hackney. Henry VIII even penalized anyone exporting an animal without authority

In the early 1700’s breeders began to cross the native hackney with Arabian stallions to add some refinement to the breed.

The most important Arabian was the Darley Arabian.  Hackneys can be traced back through the stud book to this horse.

The Darley Arabian

At the beginning of the 1900s large numbers of Hackneys were still being exported all over the World to places such as America, Australia, South Africa and Argentina as well as the rest of Europe.

Hackney classes at large horse shows were proving popular. The Hackney horses also played an important part in the First World War as cavalry mounts and artillery horses.

Once considered the English Taxi, the demand for Hackney horses was soon to end.

By the beginning of the 20th century the car had arrived and the Hackneys began to be replaced by motorized vehicles.  Hackney horses were deemed unable to contribute to society and declined considerably.

The Hackney then took on a new role as show horses, but in the long-term the breed cannot survive only for the show rings.

Although usually considered carriage horses, the Hackney horses with their stamina, soundness and intelligence can be enjoyed in many other ways, including cart driving, dressage, show jumping and pleasure riding.

The Hackney horses are of particular use for the disabled as a carriage horse, and for those who cannot ride a horse in the usual way.

As Barbara Stockton states, under the revised Rare Breeds Survival Trusts listing, the Hackney Breed has now sadly been categorized as “critical”.

In the equine world a breed with fewer than 3,000 females is put on the watch list and when there are fewer than 300 they enter the critical stage.

According to Ms. Stockton, ‘being in a recession makes it difficult to build up numbers and breeders are declining in number’.

‘This should be very concerning for all devotees of the Hackney Horses, especially as the Hackney has such a long and proud heritage’.

‘Flying Childers’ one of the most famous early Hackneys

‘The word needs spreading that, although spectacular harness horses, they are also extremely versatile and make great riding horses.’

‘If you have ever had anything to do with Hackneys, either as an owner or spectator, if you have thrilled to see these magnificent horses producing their athletic movement, or enjoyed their elegance, the breed needs your support now.’


Hackney Horse Society UK:

Rare Breeds Survival Trust: 

Photographs: BNPS.CO.UK

Story Sources:
Hackney Horse Society
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Mail Online

Rupert, Irish Draught Horse, Makes Debut At Royal Opera House

Rupert, a 15 year old bay 17.2 hand Irish Draught gelding, recently made his opera debut at London’s Royal Opera House in a production of Verdi’s opera Falstaff.

Rupert, who had never previously appeared on the opera stage, starred as the hunting horse ridden by Italian baritone, Ambrogio Maestri, who sang the title role.

The famous robust Italian said that he bonded with Rupert despite having never ridden a horse before. However, he did take a riding lesson on Rupert prior to the rehearsals.

Ambrogio said, “When I met Rupert and it was love at first sight! He’s so elegant and sweet. It has been fun because Rupert is very calm and patient. When I sing he isn’t scared, on the contrary he seems to appreciate Verdi!”

In preparation for Rupert’s Royal Opera debut, the horse was taken to churches where an organist played opera to him. He also had special rubber shoes fitted to prevent his slipping on stage. In addition, he had three handlers in full costume during his stage appearances.

Rupert joined stage rehearsals with The Royal Opera two weeks before opening night and took it all in his stride like a true professional. On his first day of rehearsals, he stood patiently side stage munching a hay-net while waiting calmly for his call.

After a successful performance of the opera, the London reviews said it was Rupert who stole the show. The horse managed to outshine everyone else on stage.

It was no surprise that Rupert was the star.  Even though this was his first opera performance, Rupert is a veteran of both screen and television.

Rupert has also taken part in jousting competitions across Britain and is the lead horse for English Heritage, where he works with both pyrotechnics and gunfire.

With his remarkable stage success, Rupert will undoubtedly be appearing again at the Royal Opera House.


Story Sources:  (re-written: sm-wwh)
Royal Opera House News
BBC News
South East Rider News

Queen Elizabeth’s Favorite Shetland Pony Retires As A Military Mascot

The 23 year old Shetland pony, Cruachan III, has officially retired as mascot for the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

For nineteen years he has taken part in Highland games, fairs, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and numerous Military Parades.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders have had a regimental mascot since 1929, always a Shetland pony called Cruachan.

So far there have been three ponies called Cruachan. In 2006, the  Highlanders were formed into the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The tradition of a Royal Shetland pony as mascot named Cruachan continued.

Regimental mascots not only take part in parades and ceremonial occasions, but often live in suitable accommodation in the barracks with the regiment.

This photo shows Cruachan III and Pony Major Paddy Payne leading the Coming Home Parade of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, after their tour in Afghanistan.


Cruachan III stands barely 3 feet tall and has an unusually calm temperament. He is a personal favorite of the Queen. She has always requested that he be present at any parades when she is at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

It was at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, celebrating the 60 years of the Queen’s reign, that Cruachan III was, again, a star performer.

There were more than 1,000 pipers, drummers and other musicians performing on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.

Military bands from countries around the world including Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and the US performed during the three-week run.

Cruachan III at front and center


According to Cpl William Perrie, who looks after Cruachan III while on duty, it was the pony who stole the show at the Tattoo for 25 nights in a row.

He added: “Everyone just loves him. Basically he was the center of attention every night.”

This year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo marked the last performance of Cruachan III.

It was now time for his much deserved retirement.

Captain Dougie McDougall is happy to see the 23-year-old Shetland Pony retire from service.

All those at the Redford Barracks at Edinburgh who have cared for the Royal favorite Shetland pony believe that Cruachan III deserves his retirement after nearly two decades of military duty.

Cruachan III will now be relaxing in his own field with long-term companion Islay, also a Shetland pony.

As for the Royal Regiment of Scotland, they are preparing for the arrival of Cruachan IV to begin his career as their next Royal Mascot.


Link: Royal Regimental Mascots

Link: Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2012

Link: Reford Barracks, Scotland

Link: Balmoral Castle


Re-written from Story Sources:
Edinburgh Local News
BBC News
Daily Mail
UK Government on Line

UK Ministry of Defence
Katielee Arrowsmith

London Police Horse Pals Retire Together

Vincent and Ursula


Two inseparable horses are set to retire together after spending a total of 30 years in London’s Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch.

Vincent, 22, and Ursula, 21, have built a special bond over the past 18 months after sharing adjoining stalls and playing together in the field at the Met’s stables in Surrey.

Not wanting to separate the two, the staff has arranged for the retiring duo to be sent to the same farm in East Sussex to share out their lives, together.

This was a special exception as horses are rarely retired to one location.

Inspector Alan Hiscox, chief instructor at the Metropolitan Police’s Mounted Branch Training Establishment, said: “Vincent and Ursula have contributed to every aspect of policing in the Mounted Branch, from frontline patrols and ceremonial duties, right through to training our younger horses and new officers”.

The Mounted Branch was established in 1760 and currently has over 140 officers and 120 horses at eight operational stables spread across London.

They have a  variety of roles including, high visibility patrols, public order duties as well as specific crime initiatives and specialist events, such as   trooping the color.

Every officer and horse receives extensive training. They ensure that both horse and rider are well equipped to deal with the rigors of policing in the capital.

Vincent and Ursula have both had illustrious careers having  served at football matches at Wembley and also at the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

Inspector Alan Hiscox  says: “I have had the honor of riding both Vincent and Ursula, they are very special horses.

“It has been very heartening to see them grow close and they deserve many long and happy years of retirement.”

Both horses will now live out their lives together. They will occasionally be ridden, go for walks and spend time in pasture.

They will be well looked after in their deserved retirement.

Mind Your Manners And Your Attire At Royal Ascot This Year

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
at Royal Ascot Races


With the Royal Ascot Races only a month away, the word is out.  It seems things have gotten out of control in the recent past as to what some have chosen to wear to this event and the Queen and her authorities will have none of it.

So, select your outfit carefully.  Visitors to Royal Ascot this June must adhere to a strict dress code if they want to be allowed in.

First, one needs to be reminded that for centuries admission to the Royal Enclosure was a statement of belonging to the social elite.

Traditional morning dress for gentleman has always been mandatory.

Equally suitable formal attire was expected of proper ladies, which, of course, included hats. 

This year, just in case any newcomers were in doubt of how exclusive the honour is, those who transgress the code will be turned away on the orders of Her Majesty’s representative, the Duke of Devonshire.

While gentlemen have not posed a problem, organisers believe that the lines of what is — and what is not — appropriate for ladies have become confused of late.


There will be no strapless dresses,
with hat or without.

There will be no exposure of undue amounts of skin.

In other words, keep it covered.

So, ladies, mind those shoulders,
check the front and the back. 

At Royal Ascot this year,
it will require more than just a hat.


Royal Ascot Website


Oldest Horse Charity In The World

Home of Rest For Horses
Britain ~ 1886 ~ Today


In the 19th century, life for the majority of working horses on the streets of London was appalling.

On 10 May 1886 Miss Ann Lindo, inspired by the book ‘Black Beauty’ and determined to do something about it, set up a home of rest for horses, mules and donkeys at a farm at Sudbury, near Harrow, North-West London.

Fittingly its first resident was an overworked London cab horse.

Among the supporters of the new Society was HRH Prince Albert and before long the Duke of Portland, Master of the Royal Household, agreed to become president.

The role of horse as a working animal has changed radically over the past 120 years. No longer do we see cab horses, delivery drays, working pit ponies or the great Shire horses bending to the plough.

Pit Pony

The Home of Rest for Horses’ residents are today drawn from the ranks of those serving their masters in different ways – the mounted police force, the mounted Army regiments, the Royal Mews, Riding for the Disabled, the Horse Rangers Association – and very occasionally a retired race horse, a polo pony or just a much loved family pet.

Set amongst the rolling Chiltern Hills, The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses caters for the retirement needs of over 100 horses, donkeys and ponies.

Their smaller relatives are also represented – Shetland ponies, donkeys and hinnies – and, of course, the occasional sad case of a neglected pony which requires urgent rehoming and very special care to restore it to health.

It is home to over 100 animals from all over the country, ranging from rescued ponies to retired drum horses from the Household Cavalry.

The residents at the stables share 200 acres of pristine paddocks and loose boxes in the Chiltern Hills, receiving the loving attention they deserve throughout their final years.

Once accepted into the sanctuary of the Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses, they will remain at the sanctuary for the rest of their days.

Three large Shire horses have just arrived to enjoy their well-earned retirement with The Horse Trust.

Jim, at 19hh, is the biggest horse ever to come to The Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses. He arrived along with Tom and Tryfan.

Jim and Tom worked for many years for the Whitbread brewery as dray horses delivering the beer to local hostelries.

Only a month ago, two Shires, “Rosie” and “Duchess”,  joined their former stablemates, “Jim”, “Tom” and “Tryfan” at the Horse Trust’s Home of Rest in Buckinghamshire.

Owner Kay Parry said: “The horses have been part of our lives for more than 10 years. They are precious to us and have been a delight to hundreds of people.

“We are so grateful to The Horse Trust for continuing to keep them where they can continue to enjoy visitors and for providing the care and kindness for the horses in their later years.”

Among The Residents


This magnificent 17 hand, piebald, shire gelding was owned by the army for 18 years. A former military drum horse Leo was used for ceremonial occasions and regularly paraded at Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade. Leo, born in 1982, joined fellow ex-drum horse, Janus at The Trust’s rest home in 2004.


Janus arrived at Speen in July 2001 from The Household Cavalry based at Hyde Park Barracks in Knightsbridge. Born in 1984 this 17.2 hand, skewbald gelding joined the army in 1989 and spent many years in service as a drum horse for the Blues and Royals. Janus and Leonidas enjoy grazing together in the tranquility and sanctuary of the Chiltern Hills.


The Horse Trust is delighted to welcome its third drum horse to the sanctuary in Speen. Constantine, a 17.1 hh Clydesdale, served the Household Cavalry for 20 years and during that time paraded ten times at Trooping of the Colour.

This 23 year old gelding joins ex drum horses Janus and Leonidas who both retired to the Home a number of years ago.


Stevie, an 11.3 hand white donkey, has recently joined our family of donkeys at the Home. This 30 year old cuddly newcomer is already attracting a lot of attention from visitors to the yard. He is very friendly and enjoys tons of love and affection.

Just Otto

Simply known as Otto this 17 hand black gelding arrived from The Royal Mews at Windsor Castle in 2004. Born in 1984 Otto won the Queen’s Cup twice and enjoyed eventing at Blenheim. Now teamed up with old stable mate Lancelot Otto has settled well into his new life in the Chiltern Hills.


Fagin, a stunning 18.1 hand grey gelding has been reunited with old friends Dawkins and Cratchit from the Greater Manchester Mounted Police. Fagin was beginning to suffer a significant loss of sight in both of his eyes and has retired early from his duties with the police. He is an exceptional character and an adored addition to the herd.


Thomas is a little black bundle of fun who is approximately 36 inches high.  This adorable Shetland pony, with a slightly greying muzzle, struts around his field with his head held high and has made many best friends in the short time he has been here – both human and horse!


Sefton who retired from the Household Cavalry in Knightsbridge in 2005 is the nominal successor of a famous predecessor. The Home gave sanctuary over twenty years ago to Sefton, the horse that suffered multiple injuries at the hands of the IRA after the Hyde Park bombing on 20th July 1982. The ‘new’ Sefton is a striking 16.2 hand black gelding who was born in 1987.


A Safe Haven …

The Horse Trust manages the Home of Rest for Horses.  This sanctuary is funded solely by donations and legacies and provides lifetime care for more than 100 retired working horses, ponies and donkeys.

The Home of Rest for Horses ‘focus of charitable duty now extends far beyond providing a safe haven for elderly horses, ponies and donkeys.

Never losing touch with that core objective, it now embraces a wider agenda which priorities welfare, science and education and has therefore  re-named the charity “The Horse Trust”.

Website:   “The Horse Trust ~ Home of Rest for Horses”

Clydesdale Becomes Britain’s Biggest Horse


” Digger”

Mounting this Trojan steed
is a tall order for any rider


Measuring over 19 hands, 6ft 5 inches, and weighing 900 kilos, Digger the Clydesdale is thouht to be Britain’s biggest living horse.

And at only 4 years of age this magnificent animal still has some growing to do.

Digger is the largest horse we have ever had to deal with and at just four years old, is still a baby,” says Eileen Gillen, manager of the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) at Belwade Farm in Aboyne, Scotland, where Digger is kept.

“He was hand-fed as an orphan and from then on he just grew and grew. He is the equivalent of a growing teenage boy – never out of the fridge.

“Heaven knows what size he is going to end up.”

Digger arrived at the farm in December after a call for help from his owners, who were suffering from serious health problems and finding it increasingly difficult to cope with such a big horse.

“He was hand-reared from two weeks old which is not the easiest thing to do so all credit to the previous owners – he was just too big to cope with,” says Eileen.

Digger arrived just 10 days before Christmas – it was some Christmas present I can tell you.”  


 However Digger’s height, measured from hoofs to shoulder blade is not an exact reading of his size. ”

We can’t measure him absolutely bang on because our measuring system doesn’t go past 19 hands,” explains Eileen.

“He is the about 6 ft 5 inches hoofs to withers – which is hooves to the top of the shoulder.

“He has obviously got to bulk out because he is just a frame – but who knows what height he will end up growing to.

“His feet measure between 10-15 inches – a good foot across.”
But Eileen, 48, who has been caring for horses for the past 35 years, is not interested in breaking any records.

Digger is certainly over 19 hands and when his head his up he will measure up to 9 ft.

Digger’s unusual size means that he has a bigger appetite than most horses.

“Because he is a growing lad he is a little under weight. But he is eating three times more than a normal horse and consuming about 20-25 gallons of water a day.

“We have a big yard and he lives in there, but even to get him here we had to get a specialist lorry with lower stabilised floors.

“He is a big docile horse – he will do what he wants. He is not one for running around. He takes life very slowly, which is the nature of his breed.


His friends at the farm include12-year-old Sweep, a mini Shetland pony who, despite his intimidating size, is best friends with gentle giant Digger.

At 34 inches tall, he can walk straight under his belly.

“She is out mascot and when Sweep first met Digger his height didn’t seem to bother her – she wasn’t intimidated,” says Eileen.

“They just love to play together as you can see.”


News Link:  UK Daily Mail

Earlier Post:  Tina,  Guinness Tallest Horse in the World.