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15 September 2014

A Wonderful Surprise At Balmoral.

A report from Yvonne Thomson.

The BHS  Diamond Jubilee Ride at Balmoral this year turned out to be a real surprise…..

Firstly we must acknowledge the following, without whom this great ride could not have taken place.

H.M. The Queen for permission to ride around the estate.

“Talking Horse” magazine, the main sponsor.

Helene Mauchlen,  BHS Development Officer

Loraine Young,  Chairman BHS Scotland

Pat Somerville,  BHS Access Officer

Annella Cowan,  BHS Board of Trustess

Marjory Norrie,  British National Riding Clubs representative.

Roger Searle.  Local BHS Representative and Ride Organiser.

The ladies had contacted Roger Searle last December with a view to setting up the ride on the Balmoral Estate.  Roger duly had discussions with Peter Ord, the Queen’s Factor at Balmoral, and then went on to plan three routes; a 10 Km for lead rein ponies and a 20Km and 30 Km for others.

Roger then spent eight hours on the Thursday prior to the event marking the three routes.  It was a wonderful ride. Going around Alltcailleach Forest with marvellous views to Loch Muick, and yes, we could see Lochnagar too. The ride went past a small hut. This was the late Queen Mother’s favourite place for picnics. She would walk up from Birkhall House. It is quite a climb on the horse, never mind on foot.  We were so lucky with the weather it was blue skies and bright sunshine all day.

BHS access officer Mrs Pat Somerville was taking in the entries. On a table near her was a beautiful iced cake in blue and white with the BHS logo, the Saltire and two horse shoes, lettered  “BHS Diamond Jubilee 60 years”.

About 5 minutes before the “Off”, we were asked to line up behind a tape as Her Majesty the Queen was coming to cut the Diamond Jubilee cake.  You can just imagine our astonishment !  We had been joking earlier in the day saying would the Queen be here? and now it was really happening.   Only one or two on the committee knew beforehand that she was coming.  The Queen arrived in a Range Rover, in country dress, head scarf, kilt and body warmer and was introduced to the officials.

The Queen then cut the cake.

Roger was introduced to the Queen then mounted Hunter to be the first rider out followed closely by Mrs Sally Coutts the Vice President of the Highland Pony Society, widow of the late and well respected Captain Ben Coutts, and a very well known figure in the HPS. Both she and her husband were judges for the HPS.

Captain Coutts also wrote for the Press and Journal and featured on television and radio about countryside matters for many years.

Being first in line I had the privilege of an interesting chat with Her Majesty about my Haflinger and hers.  Schadow was duly rewarded with a pat or two. The Queen, looking splendid in her kilt, moved down the line to talk to Yvonne Monro and gave everyone a bit of her time. She stayed for 45 minutes, very charming, relaxed and happy talking about horses to horsey people.

Poor Les, a great admirer of the Queen, was stuck at home recuperating from surgery and missed the chance of a lifetime. 

Every rider got a slice of the cake and two beautiful rosettes on completion. A full field completed sound and happy.  Many Thanks are due to all the dedicated BHS people, most of whom actually rode the course, who set up this most lovely of rides, not least SERC’s own Roger and Brenda Searle who put in an enormous effort to ensure the ride’s success.