November 26, 2014 - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today became the first recipient of the FEI Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of her leading role as supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign as British monarch.
The award was presented by FEI President HRH Princess Haya at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace this afternoon in the presence of former FEI President the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip, and Keith Taylor, Chairman of the British Equestrian Federation.
Horses featured in The Queen’s life from a very young age. She had her first riding lesson in the private riding school at Buckingham Palace Mews in January 1930, when she was just three years old and was given her first pony, the Shetland mare Peggy, by her grandfather King George V on her fourth birthday.
One of The Queen’s favorite horses was the mare Burmese, a present from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1969 when they came to perform at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The Queen rode Burmese side-saddle for 18 years at the Trooping the Colour ceremony, which celebrates the Sovereign’s birthday. The President’s Trophy, presented by Prince Philip for many years to the winning country in the FEI Nations Cup series, was a bronze of the Queen and Burmese.
In the Thoroughbred world, horses bred by The Queen have won more than 1,600 races, and, of the British Classics, only the Epsom Derby still eludes Her Majesty. She also breeds Shetland, Highland and Fell ponies to ensure the traditional bloodlines in these native breeds are preserved and enhanced.
The Queen’s cousin Margaret Rhodes, interviewed last year for a BBC documentary, The Queen: A Passion For Horses, believes that the importance of horses in The Queen’s life cannot be overestimated: “When she became Queen, she had to sacrifice an awful lot of emotions and thoughts of the future, but with horses it's another world in that it reduces you to just the person in relation to the animal, and you're not a Queen, you're just a human being.''
The award is a stunning white gold and diamond brooch of nine interlinked horseshoes, created especially for today’s presentation, and mirroring the insignia of the FEI Awards.