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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the first recipient of the FEI Lifetime Achievement award Nov. 26 in recognition of her leading role as supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign as British monarch.

The award was presented to Her Majesty by FEI President HRH Princess Haya at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace 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 favourite 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.

As well as The Queen’s enduring love of racing, breeding and equestrian sport, the British Royal Family has a long history linked to the horse. The Duke of Edinburgh played polo until 1970 and then took up carriage driving the following year, and also played a key role in compiling rules for the international sport early in his 22-year tenure as FEI President. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and two of The Queen’s grandsons, Princes William and Harry all play polo. The Queen also plays host to the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, which features international Jumping, Dressage and Driving, and where many of the Queen’s home-bred native ponies line out in the showing classes.

Equestrian sport celebrated 100 years in the Olympic Movement at London 2012, where The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips claimed team silver in Eventing. Zara Phillips won team and individual gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2006 and was also crowned European champion in 2005, following in the footsteps of her mother, The Princess Royal, who won the European title in 1971 on Doublet, a horse bred by the Queen out of one of Prince Philip’s polo ponies. Princess Anne, also a former FEI President, is an IOC Member and President of the British Olympic Association, and competed at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976, the first member of the British Royal Family to compete at Olympic level.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is a life-long lover of horses who has inspired millions around the world and I am honored to be able to present the first-ever FEI Lifetime Achievement award to Her Majesty on behalf of the FEI today”, HRH Princess Haya said. “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.”

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