My dad always said it was his lot in life to be surrounded by beautiful women. He has a wife, two daughters and all of our pets- horses, dogs, hamsters, rabbits- were female. We had a male cat once but I think even he knew there was only room for one man in our household so he eventually up and ran away with the cat next door.
Anyway, my dad always did his best to keep his ladies inspired with different articles on dynamic women who pertained to our interests. For my mom and sister it was whoever was beautiful and fashionable and for me, well I settled for whoever had a horse. So as follows, a list of my favourite women of power and influence who also happened to love horses.
The legend of Lady Godiva is a true one. She was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman of the 11th century. She made her mark by riding through the streets of town naked atop a horse to protest her husband’s oppressive taxes on his tenants. This event also marked the creation of the phrase “peeping Tom”. Prior to her ride, Lady Godiva asked that all the tenants close their curtains and not look. All obliged except for one man by the name of Tom.
Elisabeth of Bavaria
Elisabeth of Bavaria was a 19th century Empress of Austria and Queen consort of Hungary. She was famous for not only her beauty but her passion for horses. As a child she was allowed limited outlets of exercise and so she took to horseback riding. During her time as Queen and Empress, she was popular amongst her people for her riding skills and love of equines.
Elizabeth Arden was famous for her cosmetic company and business skills. At her peak in her career, was amongst the world’s wealthiest women. She had beauty salons all over the world and had many famous clients such as Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy and countless others. Her career success didn’t end there. As an avid horse-lover, she also bred and raced thoroughbreds with great success.
Arden owned her own farm in Lexington called Maine Chance Farm. She was infamous for being difficult to work with as many trainers found her high standards impossible to cope with. One trainer who did mange to cope, Leslie Combs II, claimed Arden to be a wonderful horsewoman with an excellent eye for Thoroughbreds. In 1947, her colt Jet Pilot won the Kentucky Derby. She also had horses who won the Eclipse Award, entered in the Racing Hall of Fame and numerous other awards. Arden herself was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame.
Sadly during her lifetime, Arden refused to put her assets into a trust fund. As a result, her estate was highly taxed following her death which caused her farm and horses to be sold off.
Queen Elizabeth II
The reigning Queen of England is another woman of power with a passion for horses. In addition to regular riding she has taken on numerous equine ventures. Her majesty breeds Suffolk Horses; an endangered breed native to Great Britain, as well as Thoroughbreds and has raced them with much success. She has also been presented with four horses on behalf of the Canadian government and the RCMP. More recently, in 2009 she was presented with George, a 9 year old black 17hh gelding.