With everyone looking forward to the Jubilee celebrations this weekend we thought it would be most apt to look back, remember and celebrate the day we painted a horse for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Hyde Park Barracks. It was such an honour to meet the queen and talk about horses. What a wonderful day it was!
On Tuesday October 24th Gillian Higgins, equine anatomist and founder of Horses Inside Out, was invited to Hyde Park Barracks, London as part of a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Charles. The Queen named her new drum horse Perseus, visited the forge and was introduced to Gillian who has recently been involved in anatomical training for the soldiers of the household cavalry. Gillian had spent the morning painting Quinn, a British Cavalry Black, with the skeleton in preparation for the Queen’s visit.
“It was a great honour to have been invited. The Queen was particularly interested in aspects of the neck, skeletal misconceptions and the type of paint.”
Gillian was initially invited to the Hyde Park Barracks, to deliver a day course for soldiers of the division in September. Military horses have to carry very heavy weights and have to stand immobile for long periods of time. This can result in sore backs. Gillian’s remit as part of a training programme was to teach the soldiers some basic skeletal anatomy and show them Pilates and stretch type exercises they could do with their horses to make them more comfortable.
Following the popularity and success of this event Gillian was invited to paint a horse to show the Queen the anatomical aspects of the training in the Household Cavalry.
The Queen was paying a visit to the barracks to name her latest drum horse. A magnificent animal with the most wonderful feathers. Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince Charles were also going to inspect ‘the lines’, (army speak for stables) and see some aspects of the soldiers equine training.
We were amazed and delighted when we were approached by the Lance Sergeant to see if Gillian could attend and paint a horse with its skeleton as part of the occasion. Gillian was really honored to meet her Majesty and explain how the bone structure that had been painted on the horse helped to teach soldiers about equine anatomy.
During her brief encounter with the painted horse Quinn (who behaved impeccably), the Queen showed a real interest in the painting and the anatomy and, like so many people who see painted horses was particularly interested in the location of the cervical vertebrae and to discover how the paint was removed!
Behind the scenes in preparation for the Queen’s visit
Much painting, polishing, cleaning and grooming went into the preparation of the barracks, tack and horses for the royal visit. The drum horses had their feathers washed twice, blow dried and chalked!
It takes roughly 4 hours to paint a skeleton on one side of a horse. Quinn enjoyed standing under the solarium during this process as did the painting team which consisted of Gillian, David & Shirley Higgins and Laura Perry.
This certainly was a day to remember!!