18 year old Elizabeth Windsor, with her pony Hans, accompanied by assorted dogs and the silver cup she and Hans won at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1944.
Lilibet’s first horse was a Shetland pony named Peggy, a gift from her father when she was 4 years old.
Horse & Hound described her horse-crazy childhood thus: WHEN The Queen’s childhood governess Marion Crawford first met a young Princess Elizabeth, she found “a small figure with a mop of curls sat up in bed”, who had tied the cords of her dressing gown to the knobs of the bed and was busy driving her team.
‘‘Do you usually drive in bed?” Marion remembered asking, in her 1950 book The Little Princesses, to which the princess replied: “I mostly go once or twice round the park before I go to sleep. It exercises my horses.” The 30-odd toy horses that she had, each standing a foot high on wheels, had a strict stable routine; their grooming basket stood at the end of a long line of them, first at No. 145 Piccadilly, and later in the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Each night they had their saddles removed, and were attentively fed and watered. And after her and Princess Margaret’s annual trip to Olympia Horse Show with their parents, the toy horses would be put through several weeks of intensive training. On other occasions Princess Elizabeth would harness her nanny with a pair of red reins to set off on a fictional delivery round. “I would be patted, given my nosebag, and jerked to a standstill, while Lilibet delivered imaginary groceries, and held long and intimate conversations with her make-believe customers,” wrote Marion. “Sometimes she would whisper to me, ‘Crawfie, you must pretend to be impatient. Paw the ground a bit.’ So, I would paw.” ***
The global horse community is universally mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. She was a horsey girl before she ever had an inkling she would be Queen.
Earlier this summer she was still defying her doctors and riding her ponies. She skipped the opening of Parliament but was on hand to watch her horses and grandchildren competing - in driving! - at the Royal Windsor. All horsey girls, if we happened to be Queen, know we wouldn’t have done it any other way, either
Christina Hansen of New York Carriage Horses from Horse and Hound