Horses, The Royal Stables

Horses at The Royal Mews. Photo: Charlotte Gawell.

The Royal Stables have around twenty horses. The horses are trained to lead cortèges and carriages on occasions such as state visits and formal audiences.

Extremely high demands are placed on the horses, equipment and staff, in order to ensure that ceremonial transportation is provided in a safe and stylish manner.

The horses are bay in colour, typical of their breed and tall, with an attractive gait and a height of around 170 cm. However, just as important as the physical appearance are a steady temperament, sound training and a high standard of fitness.

The horses are bought at between five and seven years of age. Two years of training are then required so that they can learn to walk two-, four- or six-in-hand, and to work in a noisy and often stressful city environment.

Horse-path sign at Royal Djurgården. Photo: Charlotte Gawell.

Training and care, The Royal Stables

Riding Master, Head Groom and coachmen are responsible for the horses' training, feeding and care.

The harnesses and coaches for everyday and ceremonial use also require daily inspections. A safe and reliable cortège horse needs thousands of hours of training. Younger horses and those whose training is not yet complete can, however, be placed with older and more experienced horses, and can therefore gradually be used during their training. 

The horses are given daily training on Djurgården or in the riding hall, and using the modern horse walker.

The training is governed by forthcoming duties. For example this could involve training two-in-hand when ,the horses are put to the carriages in pairs or four-in-hand. Carriages are also postilion-driven, with riders on the or à la d'aumont, where the coachman is replaced with jockeys who ride each of the left-hand horses.

City traffic, with its buses, traffic lights, road works, crowds and loud noises, is a particular challenge for the horses. The horses are also trained together with the Life Guards' Dragoons and the mounted police so that they can cope with loud music, crowds of people, barking dogs and waving flags. The horses need to be able to remain calm and concentrate on their work, regardless of what is happening around them.