Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown

If I get too discouraged with the challenges of saddle fit, and never achieve a level of proficiency aside, I suppose I could take the route of the elderly, mourning Queen Victoria, so aptly played by Dame Judy Dench in the movie Her Majesty Mrs. Brown..

... and simply be led about on a pony. In the movie, we are treated to scenes of the Queen being led out each day by her cheeky Scottish servant Mr. Brown, when she would sit aside on a horse and read her daily letters. I watched this movie when it was first released back in 1997. I thought of it again just this past weekend while creating the Critical Situations post. In light of it's side saddle references, I think it deserves some attention. And, if side saddle isn't enough, I found that it was Gerard Butler's first movie appearance. I don't remember his character at all. I think this demands rewatching!

In the movie, John Brown gets quite familiar with the Queen and quite cheekily coaxes her out of her mourning and insists she get out and ride each day. In fact, their relationship was quite well known, even scandalous as rumors abounded that they were in fact secretly married. The Queen looks rather dowdy in the photograph below...

... but leave it up to Landseer to class up the scene with this lovely painting.

Of course, the Queen did not always have to be led out on a pony. The drawing below shows her schooling a horse over jumps in a riding school at Windsor.

And below is a statue of her in front of St. George's Hall in Liverpool

Naturally, a Queen would have a well trained and prepared mount and would not likely encounter a Critical Situation. Somewhere I read that when Queen Elizabeth II was still riding aside in ceremonial functions, her horse was taken out and galloped for several miles in the morning before appearing in the parade or other ceremony.


  1. A Highland Pony such as the one that Dame Judy Dench is on, is every hard to fir for a sidesaddle as they are very wide and lack a prominent wither. Queen Victoria is also on a Highland Pony. Your lovely horse is a much better candidate for a sidesaddle.

  2. Queen Victoria's pony in the Victorian photo of her and John Brown, was named Fyvie :) LOL, my son had to do a project on the Victorians and this was one of his tidbits of information ;)

  3. QEII's cerimonial horse was called Imperial, and his careful training was entrusted to Doreen Houbon, who also wrote the definitive guide to sidesaddle riding.

  4. Just wantted to let you know how much I am enjoying your blog!