When the Queen rode her first pony as a little girl of three, it was the beginning of a deep, enduring passion.
Since then, she has lavished time and affection upon her many horses, and they have been present in every important moment of her life — from Choir Boy, the racehorse that won at Newmarket just months after she inherited the throne, to Doublet, the eventer, bred by the Queen, with whom Princess Anne won the European Eventing Championship in 1971.
Carrozza’s victory in the Epsom Oaks — The Queen’s first Classics win —took place as she celebrated the fifth year as a monarch, while Dunfermline marked the Silver Jubilee year by winning two Classics in 1977.
Even during 1992, her annus horribilis when she had to contend with Princess Anne’s divorce from Mark Phillips, a fire at Windsor Castle and the separations of Prince Charles from Princess Diana and the Duke of York from the Duchess, she found time to take her grandchildren riding.
To this day, she never misses Royal Ascot and still enjoys a good hack around Windsor on her favourite pony, a beautiful Fell called Carltonlima Emma.
To celebrate The Queen’s 90th birthday, here are some of the best moments of her lifelong love affair with horses.
Horses were part of the young Princess Elizabeth’s life even before she learned to ride: here she goes for a park outing with her nurse in an open carriage.
The Princess has some fun at the Richmond Royal Horse Show in June 1934.
Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and the Duchess of York visit Brown Jack, a racehorse, at Olympia in 1935.
The Queen’s father, King George VI, shared his passion for horses with his daughters and went riding with them — here they are in Windsor Park in 1938.
Princess Elizabeth sports a pair of stylish jods for a ride in Windsor Park in 1939
A Royal Family portrait wouldn’t be complete without horses!
Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret have some horsey fun in a paddock at Windsor Castle in 1944.
Princess Elizabeth relaxes on a ride at the Royal Lodge in Windsor.
Princess Elizabeth rides as a Colonel of the Grenadier Guards in the 1949 Trooping the Colour.
A team of eight greys pulls the Gold Stage Coach carrying The Queen to her coronation in 1953. Only greys are ever used to pull the hugely heavy coach, which is apparently very uncomfortable.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Princess Anne enjoy a day out with the ponies at Balmoral in 1955.
The Queen leads her horse, Carrozza, ridden by Lester Piggott, to the winner’s enclosure at Epsom in 1957.
The Queen gets up close and personal with a horse during a visit to the North Mimms veterinary stables in hatfield in 1959.
The Queen canters along the Ascot Racecourse in June 1960, wearing a head scarf, which has by now become an integral part of her riding outfit.
Princess Anne is as passionate about horses as The Queen and the two have often enjoyed riding together, as they did in the April of 1967 in Windsor Park, where a young Princess Anne rides High Jinks (left) while The Queen rides Sultan.
The best way to enjoy a horse show is on horseback, of course. That’s how The Queen watched the Driving Grand Prix at Windsor in 1971.
The Queen, Prince Philip and one of their horses celebrate the Silver Wedding at Balmoral in September 1972.
The Queen accompanies one of her best racehorse, Highclere, at Epsom in 1974.
Jockey Willie Carson rides one of The Queen’s racehorse, Dunfermline, to victory in the Epsom Oaks in 1977.
Nothing beats a good hack to cement international relatioships — The Queen and the late Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States, enjoy a good ride around Windsor Castle in 1982. She rides Burmese, the horse that was long her partner in Trooping the Colours.
Prince Charles gallantly kisses his mother’s hand after she presents him with a polo cup at Windsor in 1984.
‘Who do you think will win, Grandma?’ The Queen takes a very young Zara Phillips to the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1987.
Memorable moment: The Queen takes a snap at Royal Windsor in 1995….
…but clearly didn’t have as good a time in 1997. One is not amused!
The Queen braves the elements for a ride with her grand-daughter, Princess Beatrice, in 1999.
In an almost exact replica of an earlier image, The Queen and Zara Phillips still talk horses — this time at Cheltenham in 2002. Phillips even has the same haircut!
The Queen admires a beautiful horse at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2004.
What better way to celebrate one’s birthday than on a horse? The Queen marks her 79th birthday with a ride at Windsor in 2005.
The Queen’s stunning Balmoral Jingle comes first in the Ridden Mountain and Moorland event during the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2005.
Estimate makes the Queen’s proud by winning The Queen’s Vase at Ascot in 2012.
The Queen and the Duchess Of Cornwall visit Ebony horse club and community riding centre in Brixton.
The Queen unveils the statue of legendary racehorse Frankel at Royal Ascot on June 16, 2015.
The Queen opens the new School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey in Guildford, Surrey, last October.
The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall attend a horse whispering demonstration by Monty Roberts in aid of the Brooke, a charity that supports working horses and donkeys.
Top image: Queen Elizabeth II, public domain