One of the problems with breeding British Native Ponies is that some of the most interesting resources on the topic never make their way across the pond. I feared the same would be true for the recent BBC production “The Queen: A Passion for Horses.” So I was thrilled to find my fears were unfounded when someone shared a link to it on the internet (click here). It was a wonderful treat to escape for an hour into the world of The Queen’s equines.
The majority of the story is about Her Majesty’s stable of racehorses, but Highland and Fell Ponies commanded a few minutes’ coverage, too, including acknowledgement that The Queen often rides her Fell Pony mare Carltonlima Emma. What I found most striking was the footage of The Queen visiting her newborn Thoroughbred foals. The intensity of her observations of them indicated to me her profound interest.
Here are a few other highlights from the video (to encourage you to watch it, too!):
- The Queen owns 180 horses and ponies of different breeds
- The goal of her Thoroughbred breeding program is to create an improved racehorse: faster, fitter, and happier. I was struck by the inclusion of the last adjective, as that isn’t something I often hear from people involved with racehorses.
- The Queen received her first pony at her 4th birthday from her grandfather, King George V; footage is included of her riding the pony at age 6.
- If you’ve never seen a foal born, there is footage included, with appropriate commentary about the amazing feat of a newborn getting to its feet for the first time. While the narrator describes the tremendous effort a mare goes through to give birth, I don’t think this particular video does justice to how ‘labor’ gets its name.
- The one major horse racing prize The Queen has not won is The Derby. I know I’ll now be keeping my ear tuned for this race each year to see if she can complete her collection of prizes.
- Monty Roberts, the acclaimed natural horsemanship clinician says, “The Queen’s interest seems to be not just are my horses winning races but am I giving them a better life.”
There were many enjoyable moments for pony enthusiasts in the program. My favorite was probably Princess Anne saying about her childhood, “Ponies were the natural extension of the pram.” Highland and Fell Pony enthusiasts are fortunate that The Queen has taken such an interest in our breeds, without which the breeds would probably not be doing as well as they are. For that I give great thanks.