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Equestrian sport award for Queen


The Queen and her daughter, the Princess Royal, riding near Windsor Castle

The Queen and her daughter, the Princess Royal, riding near Windsor Castle

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrive at the 2012 Royal Ascot meeting

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrive at the 2012 Royal Ascot meeting

The Queen and her daughter, the Princess Royal, riding near Windsor Castle

The Queen has been given a lifetime achievement award for her devotion to equestrian sport.

The monarch, who is usually responsible for handing out honours rather than receiving them, accepted the prestigious Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) accolade - a white gold and diamond brooch of nine interlinked horseshoes - in the Audience Room at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen's love of horses is well known and she is likely to be delighted with the unique award.

The FEI - equestrian sport's international governing body - said the award recognises the Queen for her leading role as a supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, the outgoing FEI president who as a teenager was the first woman to represent Jordan internationally in equestrian sport, presented the brooch to the Queen, describing her afterwards as a "true horsewoman" who has a "truly extraordinary" bond with her horses.

The Princess said: "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is a life-long lover of horses who has inspired millions around the world and I am honoured to be able to present the first-ever FEI Lifetime Achievement Award to Her Majesty on behalf of the FEI today.

"She is a true horsewoman, who still rides whenever state business allows, and her knowledge of breeding and bloodlines is incredible.

"The bond between the Queen and horses is truly extraordinary and I can't think of anyone more fitting to receive this very special FEI award in the Year of the Horse."

Watching was the Duke of Edinburgh, who shares the Queen's love of horses and who was heavily involved in equestrian sport himself as an accomplished carriage driver who represented Britain in the World Championships.

Philip was also president of the FEI for 22 years between 1964 and 1986 and received an its Award for Dedicated and Distinguished Services in 2001.

Keith Taylor, chairman of the British Equestrian Federation, who was also at the ceremony, praised the Queen's knowledge of horse breeding and spoke of how important equestrian sport was to her family - with both her daughter, the Princess Royal, and granddaughter, Zara Phillips, winning championships and representing Britain in the Olympics - with Zara netting a team silver at London 2012.

Mr Taylor said afterwards: "Horses have played such a huge part in the life of the Queen, and it is a family passion shared particularly with her husband and the two world-class champions in her daughter and granddaughter.

"The Queen has an incredible in-depth knowledge of breeding, both thoroughbreds and native ponies, and is patron of the British Horse Society, the Fell Pony Society, the Highland Pony Society, the Shire Horse Society, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association. It's impossible to think of the Royal Family without thinking of horses.

"We are truly blessed to have a sovereign who values the horse and its many types so highly."

The world of horses has offered an essential outlet for the Queen personally, with her cousin, Margaret Rhodes, describing how important horses are to her.

"You see I think that early on, when she became Queen, I think that she had to sacrifice within herself an awful lot of emotions and thoughts of the future and everything else," Mrs Rhodes told the BBC1 documentary The Queen: A Passion For Horses.

''But I think 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.''

As a child, Princess Elizabeth's first riding lesson took place in the private riding school at Buckingham Palace Mews in January 1930, when she was only three years old.

When she was five, her mother led her on Peggy - a Shetland pony given to her when she was four by her grandfather King George V - to a meet of the Pytchley Hounds at Boughton Cover.

In 1938, royal riding instructor Horace Smith began giving Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, twice-weekly lessons at the Palace.

In 1943, she won first prize at the Royal Windsor Horse Show for driving a utility vehicle harnessed to her black Fell pony - a trophy she won again the following year.

She went on to become keenly interested in horse breeding - a long-standing family pursuit. The royal studs were founded at Hampton Court in the 16th century, later moving to Windsor. In the late 19th century, the then-Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, established the Sandringham stud. In 1962, the Queen leased and later bought Polhampton Lodge Stud, near Overton in Hampshire, for breeding race horses.

In the late 1940s she received the filly Astrakhan as a wedding present from the Aga Khan.

Steeple chaser Monaveen - bought with the Queen Mother - was the first winner in Princess Elizabeth's colours of scarlet, purple hooped sleeves and black cap in the Chichester Handicap Chase at Fontwell Park, October 10 1949.

When she acceded to throne in 1952, the Queen inherited the royal colours: purple, gold braid, scarlet sleeves, black velvet cap with gold fringe.

Thoroughbred horses bred by the Queen have won more than 1,600 races, including every Classic except the Epsom Derby.

Her racing manager for more than 30 years was her close friend Lord "Porchey" Carnarvon. When he died in 2001, he was succeeded by his son-in-law John Warren who became the monarch's bloodstock and racing adviser.

The Queen also plays host to the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, which features international jumping, dressage and driving.