A right royal read...
By Carolyn Henderson
This month, I’ve been unashamedly royalist. It’s something that affects the British horse world every May – and it’s all down to a horse show.
It isn’t just any show, though. It’s Royal Windsor, held in Her Majesty the Queen’s ‘back garden’ with Windsor Castle providing a spectacular background. Even the most hardened competitors love it, because it has a special atmosphere.
The national media is out in force, because the royal family is there to watch the Queen’s show horses and native ponies competing. My friend and co-author Katie Jerram produces and competes some of these horses and though she never talks out of turn, it’s clear that Her Majesty is the most understanding and knowledgeable owner Katie could wish for.
My favourite story doesn’t come from Katie, but I really hope it’s true. Her Majesty is often criticised for wearing a headscarf rather than a safety hat, but apparently the scarf is used to give her escort a useful signal. If she ties another knot in it, that means it’s time to gallop; these days, she may stick to riding her Fell ponies, but anyone who knows the breed will appreciate that when they want to, Fells can shift.
When I worked with Katie to produce Katie Jerram on Showing for J A Allen, we featured some of Her Majesty’s horses in the book: not because they have such an illustrious owner, but because they are such great examples of their type. And yes, we do have a very special and private picture of Her Majesty flicking through a copy of the book.
Here’s a link to the book if you want to know more: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Katie-Jerram-Showing/dp/0851319890
People who don’t share a passion for horses sometimes seem to think that if you own a horse, you must be wealthy and privileged. I’ll go with the privileged, but wealthy? You must be joking. I might spend £65 every six weeks on my horse’s shoes, but I’m the Queen of the charity shops when it comes to buying my own clothes.
One reason the Queen and other members of her family love horses is, perhaps, that animals are great levellers. A horse won’t grovel or curtsey and a Fell pony certainly won’t. When your life is dictated by affairs of state, an hour spent with a hairy pony must be truly precious.
A cat may look at a King, but a horse must surely enrich the life of a Queen.