Monday 1 January saw five riders from across the UK take part in the All The Queen’s Horses parade through the streets of London as part of a Lawrence of Arabia group. The team consisted of Amelia Zebedee on Eastworth Ahmoshini, Rowena Bertram on Marcus Aurelius, Karen Dewey Musty on Calimeer, Jo Marsh on TES Elouff, and Sasha Melia on Mukhtar Ibn Eternity, who was taking part in the ride for the second time. In their own words, they share their experiences of riding through London and being photographed outside Buckingham Palace.
Mukhtar Ibn Eternity and Sasha Melia
I got involved in the parade through working for Central Horse News magazine. Photographer and friend of the magazine Jo Monck, who incidentally also owns two purebred Arabians and a part-bred, is one of the official parade photographers who put me in touch with the parade organiser in 2015. Mukhtar Ibn Eternity, or ‘Mooky’ as he is known, were then invited to take part in the 2016 parade. I was invited back with this year with the chance to recruit four more Arabians to join me. I invited Rowena, Steph, Karen and Jo to come along on their horses. The main parade this year had a theme of Lights, Camera, Action, with the All The Queens Horses part theme being movies. We were very lucky to get into the Lawrence of Arabia group, it couldn’t have been more perfect for us!
Mooky (ex Monsoon by Djammal out of Mahleika) is by Platinum World Champion Eternity Ibn Navarroné-D (Ansata Sinan x Navarroné-P by El Khidar P) and is a 12-year-old AHS Premium Performance Sire and NaStA performance graded stallion, who has excelled firstly in both an in-hand and ridden showing career, followed by a recent move into performance. where he is regularly winning/placed in eventing, show jumping, dressage, hunter trials, and so on. In 2016, Mooky qualified from thousands for the British Eventing Arena Eventing Championships at Blenheim Palace and he also won the Midland AHS Group Performance Points Award Championship. He has been owned by me since he was a foal when I purchased him from his breeders, Phoenix Arabians.
Eastworth Ahmoshini and Amelia Zebedee
Originally, Amelia’s mum, Stephanie, was due to ride in the parade, and it is she who shares their story here
I was asked to join the parade when we were on holiday in Dubai. Obviously I jumped at the chance, and when we got home, I started to prepare the costume immediately!
Everything was going to plan until 2 December when I got the date through from the hospital to have an ACL reconstruction on 23 December! So I had to pass up riding on New Year’s Day and asked my 12-year old daughter, Amelia, if she could ride. She was absolutely over the moon! We immediately had to begin altering the outfits so that Amelia could ride in hers and mine would fit my friend, Sarah, who came as a walker. I had to have everything finished and prepared before my operation as I didn’t know how I would be after it.
The day arrived and we left home at 5am. We hadn’t gone more than 25 miles when the temperature gauge in the car went right up! We stopped at Winchester Services and checked the engine but it wasn’t hot and steaming, so we carried on and the gauge didn’t rise again.
We got into central London and drove around a couple of times before finding our meeting point! The whole thing was so well organised and we knew where and when we had to be at the start, and there was no need to worry about anything.
Eastworth Ahmoshini (Moashiro x Ahmalia by Golden Cavalier), known as ‘Skip’, behaved impeccably as usual and we all were able to thoroughly enjoy the amazing atmosphere. It was very noisy, with brightly coloured outfits everywhere you looked. To be able to ride around inner London, with famous landmarks around every corner and thousands of people watching and shouting “Happy New Year!”, was just wonderful.
Skip is now 19 years old and has competed in ridden showing very successfully since she was four. She has twice been British National Champion Ridden Mare and has won the RASS Gold Final as well as being Bronze Champion. She has competed at the Horse of the Year Show 10 times and was placed every time, taking third place four times. Skip also competes in show-jumping, affiliated dressage, side saddle, Le Trec and more. She loves hunting and has taken Amelia out three times this year!
She is just the most reliable horse in every way and is always very level headed and safe.
Marcus Aurelius and Rowena Bertram
We had known for some time that we – myself, my daughters Becky and Katherine, and my stallion Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica by Dargee Star) were lucky enough to be joining the Arabian contingent for the Lawrence of Arabia team in the parade, so you would think that the preparations would be relatively straightforward. Which they were, right up until the final few weeks when the person who was making our costumes broke her shoulder… And then I was told over Christmas that the small lorry I had hired to avoid triggering the Emission Zone charge was off the road! Becky’s godmother, Kim, stepped in and, in three and a half hours, created three tunics from scratch and adapted three cloaks, which got us to the point where I could see how to pick up and continue from there. However, Katherine was however still attaching ‘jewels’ to Marcus’ drapes and our cloaks as we tacked up for the parade!
Luckily, there was just time to get my lorry registration through security so, on the plus side, we had the kitchen and toilet and I was driving a familiar vehicle home when I was somewhat weary. I have never aspired to drive in London and, in some ways, that part scared me the most!
I had broken the deadlock between Becky and Katherine over the ride on Marcus by taking him for myself. So that settled that! I am not the bravest and I found the holding area – which was very crowded with horses, small people dressed as penguins, bands warming up on their floats, and a huge camera-shaped inflatable being hissily inflated in an alley beside us – very daunting. Marcus would have preferred to be moving too and was fidgety anticipating, I suspect, a mass start! Having the girls on the ground was massively helpful, and the horse treats in their satchels certainly didn’t hurt either! That half hour or so over, the parade got underway and we both settled down and enjoyed ourselves, particularly once he had stopped expecting the field to be released from behind the cars. My smile gradually lost its clenched edge and I waved my arms off, alternately, naturally. Marcus enjoyed his prancing and general showboating but was now on a light one-handed contact and being happy to stand posing for the frequent halts. We didn’t take him over to talk to the crowds; his mouth was a bit slimey from the earlier horse treats and I thought it might not be appreciated!
Seeing well known parts of London from Marcus’ back, and with the crowds 20 deep in places was utterly surreal. Words are still failing me to try to describe how that felt. Then, all of a sudden, we were out of the parade at Parliament Square and hacking up to Horse Guards Parade and onwards up the Mall to the gates of Buckingham Palace for photographs. The quiet was shocking!
Marcus got onto the gravel at Horse Guards, groaned, and just wee’d and wee’d – one of around 20 horses doing so at the same time. The groundsman must have been so grateful for the rain that began to fall, rain that became very heavy just as we got back to the lorries. We were so lucky; the later performers in the parade had very tough conditions.
Hacking up the Mall was just amazing. The last time I went up there was on foot following some Guards up towards the Palace – and now it was us! Photographs done, we headed around the park back to the lorries – the only very minor sadness being that the previously sand cantering track was now tarmaced over.
The trip home was initially a bit exciting with Knightsbridge now being awake and full of black cabs swooping to pull up in front of the likes of Harrods and Harvey Nic’s, but I followed the fortuitous lead of a coach in front of us and seemed to be following the local rules satisfactorily because no-one hit me or even hooted at me! Returning to the motorway was, however, a relief. After that it just seemed very, very long after the 4am start and the adrenaline-filled day. Marcus rolled and rolled in his bed when he got home; the one thing that had been missing from his day was a rolling patch, apparently. When I hit my bed not too much after, I suspect I just lay like a log. Until 4am when I woke as if the alarm had gone again, and I lay reliving and trying to process the experience until I dropped off once more.
I have done a few things over the years, but that was right up there. Incredible!
Calimeer and Karen Dewey Mustey with Jo Marsh and TES Elouff
Our day started bright and early at 3am to get sorted and on the road to pick up Jo Marsh and TES Elouff (AA Maarouff x Eslisha by Fawor). We finally arrived in London at 7.30am, and it was a proper family affair with Jo’s partner, Paul, my partner, Graham, and our fifteen year old son, Joe. Being a teenager, he finds his parents very embarrassing, so I was amazed he agreed to come and help! We also had Kathy Giffen, who helps out with animals when we are away; she was also roped into giving up her day to come and help.
Kathy also spent hours and hours painstakingly making our horse outfits by hand, at the last minute, after we had a minor panic thinking what were we going to wear! We are hugely grateful to her for the fabulous job she did in making Calimeer (Edeon x Calamintha by Dhruv) and TES Elouff look so amazing.
Both the horses travelled very well together and stood happily eating their haylage among the hustle and bustle and noise of London as though they go there every day! The boys set up a table and camping stove and cooked up eggs and bacon while us girls pottered around. It was lovely to receive a telephone call from my dear friend Lisa Phillips, who is now living in Australia, and we parked her between the frying pan and kettle and put her on loud speaker! It was as though she there was with us.
It wasn’t long before we were all tacked up and dressed up and ready for the parade to begin. And what an amazing atmosphere it was! The noise, the people, gigantic balloons, costumes and decorations were just phenomenal, and you really needed to be there to experience it as words cannot explain it.
Both our horses were exceptionally well behaved and seemed to love the atmosphere and attention they were receiving.
To ride along those ‘famous’ streets, looking up at Big Ben, waving at the Downing Street armed police, and then riding up The Mall to Buckingham Palace was just surreal. It just seems like a dream, really.
To be part of something so special, and also flying the flag for our amazing Arabian horses, filled us with so much pleasure and pride. It is something that we will never forget.
A huge ‘thank you’ goes to Sasha for inviting us to be part of the team.
Extra photos and video
The team riding through London:
Marcus Aurelius video, compiled by Katherine Bertram:
Photographs of the team:
Photography Jo Monck Photography, Fotos 4 Events, Stephanie Zebedee, Rowena Bertram, the Mustey family