26 FEBRUARY 2008

On a blustery day when most people would rather have been indoors, one regal-looking matriarch was far from deterred from heading out for a little exercise in the inclement conditions. On the contrary, she seemed visibly invigorated by her early morning horseback constitutional.

The enthusiastic equestrian was none other the Queen, for whom a brisk trot through the 26 acres of Windsor Great Park is a relaxing treat.

Now well into her ninth decade, the royal, who takes a passionate interest in horses and owns 25 of her own, never misses the chance to get into the saddle.

Every one of her steeds is personally known to her and observers note the ease with which she talks to and calms the creatures. As one put it: "She loves horses. With animals everyone is equal and they don't know who she is".

The Queen shares her passion with husband Philip, who was also getting in some equestrian activity at the weekend. His sport of choice, however, is carriage-riding. Although he gave up the potentially dangerous competition element two years ago, he still takes the reins in private whenever he can.

Photo: ©
The morning ride is one of the Queen's favourite activities when she visits her weekend retreat of Windsor CastlePhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
Philip shares his wife's interest in horses and until recently participated in carriage-racing competitions. To his delight it's a hobby his daughter-in-law Sophie has taken up, tooPhoto: © Rex
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