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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Bits: Highlands moving, horse strategy & a herd reduction

ABOVE: The Late Queen Elizabeth loved her Highland Ponies. Image: BALMORAL CASTLE

THE Highland Pony breeding program at Balmoral Castle in Scotland is to be moved to England.

Buckingham Palace said breeding would now be brought back to Hampton Court Palace near London.

It’s not known exactly how many jobs will be affected, but it’s understood that staff are now being consulted.

In a statement Buckingham Palace said: “Historically the Royal Highland Pony breeding program has been based at Hampton Court Palace.

“In 2007 a small program was opened on the Balmoral Estate.

“Breeding will now be consolidated back to Hampton Court Palace, during this period of transition the Royal Household is in consultation with staff who will be affected by the change.”

During Queen Elizabeth’s reign she bred many different types of horses, from eventers to racehorses, as well as championing rare and heritage breeds like Highland Ponies.

The breeding program was brought to Scotland because she wanted to breed Highland Ponies to be “typical of their type”.

This meant built for carrying deer off the hills and with an even temperament to match, the land around Balmoral Estate is traditionally what these ponies were bred to work in.

There is thought to be around 40 ponies at the castle.

Concerns have also been raised about what the move may mean for other historic breeds based at the Balmoral Castle Estate, including around 80 Highland Cattle and a herd of Cheviot sheep.

“We are in a process of consultation and cannot comment further at the present time,” Buckingham Palace said.


THE Northern Showjumping Club held the enormously successful Victorian State Showjumping titles over three days. For those wanting to read full results they can find them here. We will have full coverage next week.


THE Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) has decided that all six disciplines of the 2026 the FEI World Championships will take place in one place at Aachen, meaning the format will be more in line with the World Equestrian Games. The dates are August 11-23, 2026.


BOYD Exell and his team raised the roof to take his third win from three in the new FEI Driving World Cup series at the 37th Stuttgart German Masters.

In a similar scenario to last weekend in Maastricht in The Netherlands it was a mistake from a Dutch driver while in the lead that helped seal victory for the Australian.

Koos de Ronde had set a blistering time in both first drives on Friday and Saturday, but a slip from his leader in the water in the final drive-off meant he lost his line through the exit cones and a costly ring of the bell and rebuild of obstacle seven followed. Finishing on a total of 226.40, Koos slipped into third and having been second out in the drive-off, Boyd climbed to first.


YOUNG farrier students’ achievements were celebrated at an awards ceremony at GOTAFE in Wangaratta last week.

The campus is the sole Victorian provider of the Certificate IV in Farriery (ACM40818) course at purpose-built facilities funded through the Victorian Government’s Regional and Specialist Training Fund. Some 38 apprentices have trained to become fully qualified in all aspects of the profession.

Coordinator of Animal Sciences Skye Rhodes-Mitchell said the awards highlighted the skills students are leaving GOTAFE with.

“Our students are leaving with skills that will help them as they begin or continue their journey into the farriery industry,” she said.

Award winners were:

Best Practical Work of the Year - Julian Stubbs.

Best Theory Work of the Year - Holley Picken.

Most Improved Student - Luke Brady.

Perseverance and Dedication Award - Warwick Defoe.

Best First Year Forging Exercise Award: First place – Hayden Parker; Second place – Zack Kennedy; Third place – Bradley Brown.

Best Second Year Forging Exercise Award: First place – Samantha Storer; Second place – Ambar Balaz-Ashman; Third place – Warwick Defoe.

Best Third Year Forging Exercise Award: First place – Julian Stubbs; Second place – Tom Allen; Third place – Cameron McNair

Best Overall Forging Exercise Award – Julian Stubbs.


AN Air Atlanta Icelandic flight was forced to turn back to New York City last week after a horse broke free in the plane’s cargo hold. According to CNN, the horse that partially escaped its stall had to be euthanised due to the extent of its injuries.

Apparently, the plane hit turbulence, which caused the horse to spook and jump nearly halfway over the front barrier of the stall. The horse was hung up with his front legs over the barrier and his hind legs still in the stall. Despite the wide array of veterinary assistance and equipment available once the plane landed, the horse’s injuries were deemed too severe for the horse to survive, so humane euthanasia was performed.

Air travel for horses is now so common that it’s hard to work out how this could happen. Read our story on flying horses from earlier this year.


DOES your council area have an Equestrian Strategy?

In 2021, the Cardinia Shire Council in Victoria, which takes in areas around Pakenham, Bunyip and Nar Nar Goon, asked equestrians to have their say on issues important to them in their area.

The draft strategy has been prepared based on feedback received but does provide an opportunity to make any comments about “missed opportunities” so anyone in that area is urged to have a look at it and make sure it covers all the right issues.

With the safety of horse riders and drivers looked at this year by a Victorian Government inquiry into vulnerable road users, it may be an opportunity to strengthen protections even further.

The draft strategy can be viewed and feedback provided using this link.

For anyone from the area, there is still time to attend any of the following drop-in sessions:

  • Wednesday, November 29, 12 noon to 1pm, Cardinia Civic Centre, Officer

  • Monday, December 4, 5pm to 6pm, Hills Hub, Emerald

  • Tuesday, December 12, 4pm to 5pm, Cardinia Civic Centre, Officer

The consultation closes on Friday, December 22.


THE Living Legends Thoroughbred champions retirement home has won an award.

“We are thrilled to announce that we've secured the prestigious Hume Whittlesea LLEN Vocational Education Award for our partnership with Hume and Whittlesea schools in 2023,” Director Andrew Clarke said.

These awards promote the importance and relevance of vocational education and training pathways and celebrate students' engagement and achievements within their chosen fields.

“We're honoured to be specifically recognised for our Learning with Legends program, offering a diverse range of opportunities, including work experience for students with an interest in equine care.”


THE feature harness event of the Victorian Tradesman's and Delivery Horse Group’s championship show show this Sunday at Heathcote in Victoria is worth going to see. There will be a concours de elegance in three sections for small equine, light harness and heavy harness with a celebrity judge and free entry.


A ROCKING horse collector is downsizing his herd.

After decades of collecting Peter Fraser is selling a number of Bartlett horses made between 1930 and 1936. Bartlett was the second largest of the Australian rocking horse manufacturers. They established themselves in Fitzroy in 1913 and later moved to Clifton Hills. Peter says the five horses he is selling are very collectable. Details on the Everything Horse Bendigo Facebook page.

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