Friday 22nd of January 2021

Horses, Bacon Butties And Nelson – All In A Day’s Work For One Equestrian Photographer

All The Queen’s Horses brings a unique equestrian element to the London New Year’s Day Parade with over 60 horses walking the streets of London as part of this huge carnival spectacle! 

Jo Monck at work photographing All The Queen’s Horses

We spoke to photographer Jo Monck, who photographs All The Queen’s Horses every year to find out what the experience is like behind the lens.

Another fabulous Parade, my seventh year of photographing this event, it goes so fast and you have to think quickly on your fairly sore feet, I really try my best to get a photo of absolutely everyone at the parade but it isn’t always possible in the time scale, as before you know it we are leaving the Parade route and making our way up to Buckingham Palace, everyone looked so amazing, the Costumes were just incredible and the horses just so well behaved, totally showing off in the heart of London and loving all the attention provided by the enormous crowds that turned up to cheer everyone on. London is one of my favourite places in the world and to be involved with this event is just great, it’s the biggest Parade in the world bar Rio and the atmosphere is always  fantastic, I’ve photographed there in torrential rain and the crowds still lined the streets waving Union Jack flags and showing true British trojan spirit, not needed this year as the weather was beyond clement and made nigh on perfect conditions.  

Even ponies get to go big in costume © Jo Monck

Sixty horses attended and the clatter of hooves took London back to the 19th century when the horse was the main mode of transport, that’s 240 hooves on the streets, making their way down the Parade route past some of London’s most iconic buildings and monuments. 

Jo Monck Photographer

At the beginning of the Parade just down from the Ritz a little horse village springs up based opposite the Hard Rock Cafe and the Park Lane Hotel, we even have a catering tent where the very best bacon butties and sausage sandwiches are made and very welcome they are too washed down with a great cup of tea, for a few hours this little area of Piccadilly is occupied by a group of ordinary horses and riders who are about to do an extraordinary thing, that is to ride through the heart of London dressed in simply stunning costumes facing the cheering crowds which are half a million strong, marching bands  and television cameras, the event is broadcast worldwide, in fact the horses will come across all manner of things that a horse doesn’t normally meet in its day to day existence, when you consider that the horse is essentially a flight animal this makes the bravery of this animal and the trust it displays in its rider all the more amazing.

Loving the crowds © Jo Monck

The crowd are totally thrilled to touch a velvet muzzle or stroke a well groomed silky coat, sometimes this is the first time they have met a horse this close and the look on the face is one of total enchantment, and certainly this day will be all the more unforgettable for many just because the horses are there and are so interactive with the crowd. 

Colour from All The Queen’s Horses © Jo Monck

The route passes through Piccadilly, under the watchful eye of Nelson, down Whitehall, past No 10, which I confess in the seven years I’ve been doing this, I’ve yet to clap eyes on, never any time to search for it as we pass, Big Ben is on the route but sadly still under wraps so I was unable to get any shots with it in the background, my favourite London Icon.

Costumes on foot were also lavish © Jo Monck

It’s then on to  Horse Guards Parade and then up The Mall to Buckingham Palace and a relaxed hack back to Piccadilly.  

The British element of the Parade pose for a photo. © Jo Monck

As I said the day goes all too quickly and before we know it the Parade is done and the horses are back in their horse boxes, the little horse village is dismantled ready for the road reopening and leaving London to resume its normal life. A little dusting of glitter remains on the pavement outside Green Park which is a lovely reminder of such a wonderful day…..

Jo Monck

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