Chestnut Horses and the Royal Carriages
So it seems in England chestnut horses never pull the royal carriage. If you watched the royal wedding last week you probably noticed a distinct lack of any red horses (I certainly did!). Chestnut horses have never been part of the royal stable, or the Royal Mews.
The reasoning for this may be from the well-known-in-the-horse-world axiom that red horses are high strung and hyper. Most horse people have heard the “chestnut mare: beware!” saying, I actually bought a journal with this saying on the front for a friend with a beautiful chestnut Oldenburg mare. She thought it hilarious as Paprika, her mare, was the sweetest little horse in the barn! I’ve met many nice and calm chestnuts and tend to not believe the stigma placed on them. Our chestnut may have a bit of an attitude at times, but he is basically calm and steady. He is also one of the bravest horses I have seen, he is great to gallop in the field or take anywhere. He definitely knows when he’s in the show ring and puts on a show. In contrast, other horse is a bay and very spooky. He has more training and years on him than our chestnut but if he sees a hay cart or deer you should probably hang on. My husband estimated a 7ft sideways jump from him last week as a result of a hay cart standing still in the arena.
The carriages have been pulled by dun, black, cream, bay and gray horses. The Cleveland Bay has been the predominant breed used, though some Irish horses and German Oldenburgs have been introduced. Shires and Clydesdales are used as “Drum Horses” only, or for riders to carry a drum between two horses for parades. For the wedding only the Cleveland Bays were used, though the fancy Windsor Greys pulled the carriages of Kate and William and the Queen and her Prince Consort. I’m still wondering how well that went, with Kate being highly allergic to horses. Royal benadryl? Winsdor Greys are based on color only, not on breed. They have been kept in Windsor (hence the name) and can be any cart breed. One of the horses that pulled Kate and William is named Daniel and is 17 years old. I cannot find what breed he is, but he is one of the elite Windsor Greys.
In France and Italy chestnuts are used preferrentially as Royal Cavalry Horses.