Queen bans Balmoral tourists from riding ponies

Riding a pony on the royal estate attracted over 1,000 people a year who used to pay up to GBP 97 a day in saddle.

Updated: Feb 24, 2012, 13:27 PM IST

London: Tourists would no longer be able to ride the Queen`s ponies and roam around her Balmoral Palace in Scotland, as the British Monarch has reportedly decided to put a ban on the service.

Riding a pony on the royal estate attracted over 1,000 people a year who used to pay up to GBP 97 a day in saddle along with a barbecue. The idea was to keep the ponies fit and help pay for the upkeep of the 54,000-acre estate.

But the Queen has now banned tourists from pony trekking amid fears that inexperienced and overweight riders have been damaging the animals` health; she fears the ponies could be injured after long days in saddle, the `Daily Express` said.

Garry Marsden, visitor enterprise manager at Balmoral, said: "From this year pony trekking will no longer take place at Balmoral. The reason for this is that trekking has always been used at Balmoral as a means to keep stalking ponies fit.”

"With the recent addition of the Highland Pony Stud at Balmoral we are now able to keep ponies fit in other ways which are less labour intensive and also better for the welfare of the ponies."

Eight broodmares were moved from their home at Hampton Court to her Scottish residence and currently there are more than 20 ponies.

Fin Robertson, of animal welfare group OneKind, said: "I`m delighted with the decision and that the welfare of the animals played an important part in the decision. There can be concerns if the riders are too heavy or the ponies don`t have proper breaks, enough freedom and aren`t hydrated and fed regularly enough."

The Queen has a lifelong interest in highland ponies. Her first was given to her by her grandfather, George V, when she was just four. In the 1940s, she won a competition riding a highland pony at the Royal Windsor Show.

PTI