Tuesday 23rd of November 2021
News

Equestrian Magic in the Capital

Caroline Marsh might not be a name familiar with everyone, but as the founder of ‘All The Queen’s Horses’ the unique equestrian element of the huge event in the capital, which is the London New Year’s Day Parade, perhaps she should be!

queens-horses-logo-gold f4e_0148 f4e_0147 0-2

Wizards Magic at Piccadilly © www.fotos4events.co.uk

Wizards Magic at Piccadilly © www.fotos4events.co.uk

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All the Queens Horse Side Saddle Riders © Jo Monck

All the Queens Horse Side Saddle Riders © Jo Monck

Caroline Marsh founder of All the Queens Horses in 2015 © Jo Monck

Caroline Marsh founder of All the Queens Horses in 2015 © Jo Monck

Horses outside Green Park Station © Jo Monck

Horses outside Green Park Station © Jo Monck

As the organiser and creator of ‘All The Queen’s Horses’ concept, every New Year’s Day, Caroline and her team of dedicated volunteers bring a magical equestrian element to the city, travelling from all over the country. We think this event is fabulous and so put Caroline in the hot seat..

How many years have you been involved with the parade? 

With All The Queen’s Horses, it will be six years in 2017!

How did you get involved?

I got involved via The Donkey Breed Society by a lady named Herdis Churchill. A very influential lady and you never said no to a lady of so much knowledge!

We then represented Croydon via my work with Tramlink (My miniature horses were the mascots for about three years) and then in 2012, All The Queens Horses was born after I pestered the organisers to let us get involved!

What is the most challenging aspect of the preparation and also on the day?

We found it hard in the first few years, as many people did not know about the event in Central London, then in 2012 when it was 25 years old and had some eight thousand people take part from around the world and televised via the free channels, things got much easier for us and looking back at our first year when there were only three of us looking after the entire horse section to where we are now, with a crew of eight on the day plus a vet, we’ve come a long way! The biggest headache is the parking for all the lorries and trailers in a very small space and co-ordinating all the team and equines to be on time and in the right place at the right time!

Tell us about this year’s parade – What is the theme?

This year’s theme is ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ based on films and we have one big group split into subsections of six featuring fantastic films such as Oliver Twist, Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, Greece, Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur and Annie Get Ya Gun. Wonderful films and amazing costumes! The themes are set some two years in advance, as just the preparation for us can takes up 6 months to put together. Being right in the middle of the show season also makes things quite challenging, as everyone is so busy!!

Who decides the theme and where do you get your inspiration?

The main organisers of the LNYDP set the theme and I have three meetings with the team over the course of the year, then in-between regular email and phone updates.

How long does the planning take for this event?

We start talks in March, then the applications start to roll out along with a waiting list of seventy plus, even now we are planning 2019!! We have some riders that do year in year out and I call these, my loyal team leaders!

Tell us a funny story about the parade day

There are so many! But one year, I was getting changed inside the horsebox but not realising that there was a window so I was in full view of everyone having lunch/tea and they could see everything! Then another funny moment that sticks in my mind was back in 2013. We had incredibly wet weather and the poor girls who did ‘Lady Godiva’ got so wet that their costumes went see through!

How do you find your riders?

We use the power of social media, star spotting at shows and our ever-growing long waiting list to look for our riders. You really have to be passionate about being part of the parade as it’s a big commitment both time, energy and financial as we are not a profit making outfit so everyone has to pay their way!

 

What ages do they range from?

Ages range from our youngest rider at just four years through to seventy!

Which parts of the UK do they travel from?

They come from all over England and even Europe. Last year we have riders travelling right from the top of Scotland, battling through the elements to make their way to London!

How does someone get involved?

The long list of interested parties first sends us a request via email or private message but sadly numbers are strictly limited to a maximum of seventy and places get filled really quickly.

It’s a pretty big atmosphere for the horses, how do you prepare the horses for this huge event?

All the riders that take part have a strict code of conduct, which they have to adhere to, and we ask the riders to fill in a simple tick box form, which gives us an idea of what they feel that their horses can cope with. The event is so eclectic and all done at a walk, so you need a calm obedient and bold mount and we also all have a vet inspection before we set off and he has the final word on human and horse. We also request that riders give calmers as a condition. Once the riders have participated once, they always want to go around again, as time goes so quickly!

Preparing the horses for such an electric atmosphere is hard but training at home, riding at busy local events, riding past schools and competing at the likes of county shows certainly ensures that you are half way there!

Tell us the breakdown of the actual day – how do you get all horses into london etc? Getting ready/ riding through – how long does that take –what route and what time finishes etc?

We all start around 6am and I normally have a house full of Welsh crew in my tiny house in South London with the queue for the bathroom always proving fun! They will then go off to my friend’s stables local to me to get their horses whilst my crew of ladies and I will set of for London armed with the tables, radios, crew clothing, rosettes, sashes and list after list as we arrive in London to meet the Health & Safety, Andy Morgan and our vet Michael Byers from Shotters and Byers.

At 8am, the lorries then start to arrive and this is when my crew come into their own, helping to get the lorries parked up and people ticked off lists and settled in. The Sat Nav postcode we always give them is for the Ritz Hotel, which takes them straight into Central London.

It’s always buzzing with general public looking fascinated by the horses as we start to get ready, however we have to be strict on security despite lots of tourists desperate to come and stroke the horses! Once our costumes are on and the horses are groomed to perfection and in many cases, also dressed! We have to kick on of depending where we are placed in the parade.  Generally, we are in with the first 25 cheerleaders bands section. It’s really fun and takes around 45mins to get through the parade to finish at Parliament Square. The parade finishes there and we go back to the horseboxes, via the Horse Guards and ride down the mall towards Buckingham Palace for lots of fabulous photos with the photographers on route as well.

All in all it takes about three hours and around 5km of walking, so not for the faint hearted or for the leaders on foot, for the unfit! With horses and riders coming from all corners of the UK and factoring the costs for the day: Costumes, stabling sources around the Capital, or coming direct via lorry, food, fuel etc., it works out on average to be a staggering £1,000 per person! So our riders save up all year around to participate. However, to ride round London on such a special day and be involved in such a huge event, is so unique in every sense of the word and as we start to pack up and leave around 3.30pm on the day, the social media goes wild and we are all on a high, planning next year!

www.allthequeenshorses.co.uk

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