Friday, 11 October 2013

The Queen's favourite

Highland ponies

The Highland pony is an ancient breed, although there have at times been other breeds introduced into their breeding - including Arab, Clydesdale and Percheron to make them larger and stronger.  They have had many roles throughout history, including logging, carrying stags for the shooting parties and going to war.  

Yellow dun Highland pony

They have also been favoured by the Royal families down through the years: 

Queen Victoria talks about riding Highland ponies.  In "Life in the Highlands" the Queen describes a September day in 1842 when she and Prince Albert were the guests of the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle: "We set off on ponies to go up one of the hills, Albert riding the dun pony and I the grey, attended only by Sandy McAra in the Highland dress. We went out the back way across the ford, Sandy leading my pony and Albert following closely, the water reaching above Sandy's knees" 

Queen Elizabeth II is patron of the Highland pony society and In 2007 she opened a full-time Highland pony stud at Balmoral.  One of her ponies won its class at the Royal Highland show in 2010.  She is also often seen riding Highland ponies around the estate.

 Mouse dun Highland pony

However even after all their popularity and hard work they are still on the watch list of British native pony breeds - they are listed as 'at risk'

 Dark grey Highland pony

Hopefully their popularity may come back and people will realise how adaptable and fun to ride they are, even for adults, and they will be able to come off the rare breeds watch list.

White Highland pony

 Scottish Highland pony

*Please click on the photos to see them larger

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