Meet The Queen’s Horsewomen

THE HORSE TRAINER

Katie Jerram, 52, trains and shows horses for the Queen and she will show the Queen’s horses at the Windsor event – including former racehorse Barber Shop, which she will ride side saddle in the arena. Katie’s partner is the former Olympic eventer, Chris Hunnable, and she has a son Oliver, 27. Katie runs a stable business near Chelmsford, Essex.

The horses I train for the Queen are bred at Hampton Court. They come to my stables as three-year-olds to be broken in and trained. Most are thoroughbreds and the Queen remains devoted to them, even when they are with me here. Some will return to London for ceremonial duties, others might become show horses.

Twice a year I take the Queen’s horses to Windsor Castle so she can inspect them. She doesn’t come to my stables but it’s still one of the best parts of my job. I speak to the Queen and show how well her horses have progressed and we meet in a beautiful indoor riding school dating back to Victorian times. The Queen is a really lovely person, who adores her animals and is extremely knowledgeable about bloodlines and history. Sometimes I go for a ride across Windsor Park afterwards. I pinch myself to remind me how lucky I am to have this job.

The Queen brings carrots to feed her horses. She always carries them in a crisp, brown paper bag. I look after six horses for the Queen and they are all special to her – she doesn’t have any favourites.

Riding in front of the Queen for her 90th birthday will be one of the proudest moments of my life. I’ve looked after the Queen’s horses for 12 years and ridden in front of her many times but this event is very special as everybody wants to make it a spectacular evening. The Queen is always calm, but I think there will be plenty of nerves among the riders on the night!

THE CAVALRY OFFICER

Raidah Albahri, 29, is a second lieutenant in the Royal Cavalry of Oman. She is part of a 170-strong contingent from the Middle East who will be staging a daredevil riding display for the Queen at Windsor in which Raidah will be part of a mounted orchestra playing the flute on horseback.

The first time I met the Queen she was fascinated by my clothes. I was introduced to her at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2012, during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The women in our ceremonial cavalry unit wear traditional Omani costumes cut from lightweight cotton and silk. Her Majesty touched my dress and commented on the bright colours. I told her each costume design celebrates a different region of our country.

Half of the officers in our display are women and the Queen appreciates good horsemanship . Some take part in daring stunts on horseback, standing on their saddles at full gallop, or mounting a full cavalry charge at 35mph. I am part of the mounted orchestra and will play the flute. I think there is a special bond between people who love horses, so we are very proud to have another chance to perform for the Queen.

The Queen asked me how I was able to play the flute on horseback. I told her the biggest problem was steering a horse just with my knees. The music has to be attached to a stand that clips over my arm. The worst problem is wind – sometimes the pages can blow away!

My biggest worry about playing the flute in front of the Queen is cold hands. It’s always warm when we perform in Oman and we ride barefoot, in costumes designed for the desert. So I’ll wear extra clothing under my dress to stay warm at Windsor. I’m hoping it wont rain but if so we’ll wear clear plastic coats so our colourful dresses can still be seen.

THE SHOW ORGANISER

Jo Peck, 51, has been running the Royal Windsor Horse Show for 12 years as the marketing and communications director. She lives in Andover, Hampshire, with her husband, Jerry. She has three children, aged 19, 17 and 14.

Organising the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations has been a mammoth task. Normally, we only have the logistical problems surrounding the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show but this year the birthday celebrations will take place in the same arena afterwards, over four evenings. We’re preparing for 1,500 performers and 900 horses, including Chilean cowboys, Moroccan stuntmen and other riders from around the Commonwealth. Giant screens will show highlights from the Queen’s life and there will be a lengthy VIP guest list.

We’ve been preparing for the Queen’s 90th birthday for over two years. I think we’ve considered every eventuality but the weather is something you can’t predict. The showground was flooded so badly in 2012 that one of my staff canoed across the arena. Working with animals can also be unpredictable and there have been instances of horses jumping out of the arena. They can be flighty animals – especially if they are spooked by a sound.

We never know until the last minute which other royals will attend. In the past we’ve had Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex, Prince Andrew, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Anne and Zara Phillips. The royal party sit on special directors’ chairs trimmed in velvet – they’ve been used for the last 50 years and are extremely comfortable. The Queen often stands by the arena to watch the riding competitions, especially if it’s one of her own horses, and sometimes Prince Philip vacates the royal box to find a vantage point close to a public viewing area. There is no royal loo – Her Majesty just has access to the toilets in the royal enclosure.

The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration from 12-15 May in Windsor Great Park will be a pageant in the evening celebrating her life, love of horses, dedication to the Commonwealth and international affairs and her involvement with the Navy, Army. The final performance attended by Her Majesty, will be broadcast live on ITV on 15 May and hosted by Ant and Dec. The Royal Windsor Horse Show runs during the day from 11-15 May www.rwhs.co.uk

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