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The Queen's passion for animals: her lifelong love affair with Corgis and horses

The 96-year-old monarch was an animal lover

queen animal lover
Phoebe Tatham
Phoebe TathamContent Writer
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Ever since her childhood, the Queen displayed an overt fondness for all creatures great and small.

MORE: 12 cute photos of the royal family and their adorable pets

Her deep appreciation for the animal world certainly continued into her adult life, with the monarch welcoming a cohort of furry companions during her 70-year-reign. Following the sad news of Her Majesty's passing, HELLO! is taking a deep dive into her royally pampered menagerie. From her beloved, faithful Corgis to her passion for racehorses, here's everything you need to know about the Queen's love of animals.

WATCH: The Royal Family's Dogs

The Queen's Corgis

Since ascending the throne in 1952, the Queen had owned more than 30 Corgis in her lifetime. At any given point, she had up to ten — and tolerated no less than the royal treatment for them.

RELATED: James Martin bonds with the Queen over corgis

MORE: The Queen's corgis have their own royal menu

It's thought that at the time of her death, the Queen owned two Corgis - Muick and Sandy - and one Dorgi (a dachshund/corgi crossbreed), named Candy. Other much-loved royal Corgis include Susan, Willow, Holly, Vulcan, Dookie, Monty, Honey, Berry, Emma, and Linnet.

queen corgis© Photo: Getty Images

Her Majesty grew up surrounded by Corgis

The Queen's father, King George VI, arguably sparked Elizabeth's obsession with Corgis after she was gifted her first pup Susan on her milestone 18th birthday in 1944. Their bond proved so strong that Her Majesty even snuck her four-legged friend on her honeymoon in 1947!

Famously referred to as "her family", the 96-year-old's canine clan enjoy a life of luxury at the Palace. Indeed, her pampered pooches are fed lavish home-cooked meals prepared by a chef. In an exclusive chat with HELLO!, former royal chef of 11 years Darren McGrady lifted the lid on the extravagant ritual.

queen holding corgi© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen pampered her dogs

"When I worked at the palace, we actually had a royal menu for the dogs," Darren told HELLO! Online. "It would be chosen and sent to us in the kitchen every month by Mrs Fennick, who took care of all the dogs at Sandringham.

"It would list each day what the dogs were to have. One day it would be beef, the next day chicken, the next day lamb, the next day rabbit and it alternated through those days."

queen silver jubilee corgis plane© Photo: Getty Images

Her Corgis travelled in style alongside the monarch

The dogs' feeding routine was just as strict, added Darren. "Every day the Queen's footman would come down to the kitchen at around two or three in the afternoon, and take the dog food upstairs to feed the royal corgis. They each had their own bowls," said the chef.

"The Queen would feed them herself, I think after she'd had her tea."

Her love of horses

Queen Elizabeth also enjoyed a lifelong love affair with her treasured horses. The keen equestrian had her first riding lesson at the age of three and continued to ride well into her 90s.

queen young child horse© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen started riding at the age of three

She was given her first pony, a Shetland mare, by her grandfather King George V when she turned four.

MORE: 10 times the Queen went gooey-eyed over horses

In light of her ongoing mobility issues, the Queen reportedly gave up her equine hobby for a short time last September after experiencing 'discomfort' from sitting on a saddle and steering the reigns.

According to insiders, Her Majesty has resumed her favourite pastime in the form of 'gentle trips' around Windsor Castle.

queen riding windsor© Photo: Getty Images

She adored exploring Windsor on horseback

Beyond the saddle, the monarch has moreover established herself as a veritable racehorse breeder. Numbering around 180, the Queen's horses and ponies are kept at various royal residences and stables, with many sharing a base at Balmoral and Sandringham.

Many of her thoroughbreds have gone on to win impressive titles, and in 2013 she even made sporting history when she became the first reigning monarch to win Royal Ascot's Gold Cup with her thoroughbred, Estimate.

queen royal ascot win© Photo: Getty Images

The 96 year old enjoyed victory at Royal Ascot

British racehorse trainer Sir Michael Stoute experienced the Queen's unwavering passion for the equestrian sport firsthand. Speaking of her talent, he said: "I've found that training for the Queen comes with no pressure.

"Because of her understanding, her deep knowledge and her thirst for more. She's always thinking ahead – what am I going to do with this animal? Am I going to breed it? Who should I breed it to? Temperament, speed, stamina."

The Duchess of Cornwall echoed these sentiments in a recent interview for ITV regarding Royal Ascot. "She can tell you every horse she's bred and owned, from the very beginning, she doesn't forget anything.

"I can hardly remember what I bred a year ago, so she's encyclopedic about her knowledge," Camilla said.

queen duchess camilla© Photo: Getty Images

Her Majesty dedicated much of her life to horse racing

Only last year, the Queen was inducted into the official hall of fame for British flat racing in honour of her lifelong dedication to the sport.

In response to the news, the Queen's racing manager, John Warren of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: "I suspect that the Queen will have a lot of inner pride in being invited into the Hall of Fame."

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