- Monarch rode pony Cartolina Emma in glorious sun on her Windsor estate
- She now prefers to ride fell ponies, noted for their steady temperament
- But one aspect remains unchanged – she refuses to wear a hard hat
She was handed the reins of her first pony as soon as she could walk.
Now, as her 88th birthday approaches this month, the Queen shows no sign of giving up the pastime she has loved since childhood.
Taking in the glorious spring sunshine at Windsor in recent days, the Queen rides Carltonlima Emma, one of her favourite ponies.
Out for a ride: The Queen enjoys the sunshine in Windsor accompanied by her stud groom Terry Pendry
Stable temperament: Her Majesty loves gentle fell ponies, and is the patron of the Fell Pony Society
Outfit: The Queen wore her usual get-up of a silk scarf over her hair, a mac and jodhpurs
Wearing her usual riding get-up of a silk scarf over her hair, mac and jodhpurs, she was accompanied by her stud groom Terry Pendry on a gentle hack around the estate.
It is true that she doesn’t ride as regularly as she did, due in part to a niggling knee injury. And she now prefers to ride smaller fell ponies, a versatile working breed renowned for their steady temperament.
Originating from farms in the north of England, fell ponies are frequently used as riding or driving animals as they are noted for their hardiness, agility, strength and sure-footedness.
The Queen adores the breed so much she has become patron of the Fell Pony Society.
The sovereign donned a pair of white jodhpurs and cherry red leather riding boots and carried a crop in her hand as she picked her way confidently over the uneven ground on her estate.
Family album: The Queen was handed the reins of her first pony as soon as she could walk. This photograph of her on her Shetland pony Peggy in 1930 was revealed to mark the birth of Prince William’s son George
Through the ages: The Queen riding her favourite horse Burmese at the Trooping of the Colour ceremony outside Buckingham Palace in 1983 (left), and out riding in the early morning at Ascot in 1972 (right)
Giddyup: The Queen out riding in 1995. A niggling knee injury has mostly ended her horse-riding days
Royal pastime: The Queen after the Trooping of the Colour in 1963 (left) and at Sandringham in 1994 (right)
Horse fan: The Queen rides on her Windsor estate again in 1992, with a guard in the background
One onlooker said: ‘It is remarkable to think that she is a woman rapidly approaching the age of 90.
‘She isn’t seen riding out at Windsor as much as she used to but still likes to enjoy the odd hack out when she can on a fine day.
‘The ponies she rides now are fairly small and stocky but clearly are a more comfortable ride.’
Sources say the Queen is still a familiar figure at the stables at Windsor and takes a keen interest in all her horses and ponies, many of whom are now ridden by her grandchildren, most notably the Earl of Wessex’s children, Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn.
One aspect of her riding remains unchanged, however – her refusal to wear a hard hat, which has sparked concerns over her safety in the past.
The Queen summoned a rare grin last year when her horse Estimate won the Gold Cup on Ladies’ Day at Ascot
It runs (gallops) in the family: Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were also excited as Estimate romped home
History: The Queen presents an award to PC David Edwards during a police horse show in 1986
In a recent interview, racehorse trainer Ian Balding told how when he was hacking with the Queen at Windsor he took her to task over her refusal to wear a hat.
‘I really think it is ridiculous that you, above all others, do not wear a crash helmet,’ he said.
The Queen is said to have replied ‘I never have and you don’t have to have your hair done like I do.’
It was suggested that this was less an expression of vanity and more a reference to her need to be ready at all times to undertake an official duty.
Rospa, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, urges all riders ‘whether or not they are in the public eye’ to wear a hat in order to reduce the severity of head injuries should they fall.
But recently a spokesman for the British Equestrian Health and Safety Association described the monarch as ‘old school’ and said the fact that she was still riding in her 80s was a ‘good advert for how riding keeps people fit.’
Horse-lover: Yesterday the queen unveiled a statue to commemorate the role of Windsor Greys in Royal life
Family affair: The Queen was joined by her husband and grandson for the unveiling near her Windsor home