Saturday, April 17, 2021

Remembering Britain's Prince Philip and the Quick-Thinking Farrier

Prince Philip's brush with danger at the 2013 Royal Windsor Horse Show has almost been forgotten but it could have ended quite differently. A quick-thinking farrier was the hero that day.
Prince Philip's brush with danger at the 2013 Royal Windsor Horse Show has almost been forgotten but it could have ended quite differently. A quick-thinking farrier was the hero that day.

The sound of the bagpipes and boatswain's whistles is fading, but the funeral of Great Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will remained etched in our minds as a tasteful, dignified farewell to an international icon of both monarchy and the horse world.

Prince Philip was, of course, an avid and exuberant competitive carriage driver, as well as polo player and long-time president of Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the global governing body of equestrian sport.

What I'll remember, however, is a horse show mishap that could have ended quite differently.

Story by Fran Jurga
In 2013, the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, held on the grounds of Windsor Castle, was in full swing one afternoon. Suddenly, a team of Friesian carriage horses broke stride and ran off. Anyone who's been at a driving show -- or any horse show -- knows the electric feeling when the cry of "Runaway!" goes up.

But the Friesians were headed straight for Prince Philip's carriage, and it happened so quickly he may not even have seen them coming. The Friesians clipped and damaged the side of the Prince's carriage, injuring several people on the ground. The show hunters in the arena snorted and scattered.

And as quickly as they had bolted, the Friesians stopped in their tracks.

It was a day off for farrier Jason Lindley. Based near Manchester, England, Jason accompanied show horse exhibitor Katy Carter to the prestigious show for support. 

Jason may have had the day off, but when he saw the out-of-control Friesians bearing down on Prince Philip, he quickly jumped the fence, ran into the arena and grabbed their lines.

What if Jason hadn't come along with Katy that day? 

Jason Lindley, farrier
Jason Lindley, the quick-thinking farrier
Such a good deed did not go unnoticed: Jason received a special award for his quick thinking, bravery, and horsemanship skills.

In an interview with the British equestrian magazine Horse and Hound, Katy Carter revealed that Jason had been training to do horse stunt work with England's famous movie horse supplier, Steve Dent. Dent trains and supplies horses for UK tv projects like the Netflix hits Bridgerton and Free Rein, as well as major theatrical films like War Horse, Gladiator, 1917, and many more. 

Apparently one of the basic skills for carriage stunt work is the necessity of being able to stop a galloping team. Jason obviously mastered that part of his training.

Jason was certainly modest when sharing the story with me, but I suspect he barely remembers consciously deciding to make that split-second response. Quick-thinking, alert people around animals? It should come with the territory, and often does, in the form of farriers.

A headline from the New York Times in 1978.
It also comes in the form of the Queen, according to an old article from the New York Times. At the 1978 Windsor Horse Show, a team of Heavy Grays belonging to the Household Cavalry broke loose, overturned their carriage, dumped their teamsters, and took off in the direction of the world's most famous horse-show spectator and host, Queen Elizabeth. 

Unruffled, she walked directly into the path of the runaways, and shouted an authoritative "Whoa!" Prince Philip ran to her side, but by then she had the lines; the team was in good hands.

I have one of those stories, without the runaway drama, thank goodness. At my own father's funeral, I received the honor of driving his favorite team of show draft horses, thanks to the generosity of their owner, Alvin Craig. A black hitch wagon even showed up to transport the casket. Al thought I should drive. 

High heels? No problem. Tight skirt? No problem. Navigating narrow paths through cement-hard snow banks from the church to the cemetery with horses who seem to move in equal parts of vertical and forward motion: what could possibly go wrong? 

Knowing that answer all too well, I climbed up, sat down, and took a deep breath. The ground was a long way down. Everyone was getting out of the way, I was glad to see. Jets of steam were coming from the big Belgians' nostrils in the cold New England air.

Once everyone stepped back and it looked like we were ready, it happened. Several figures stepped forward, out of the shadows. 

As if on cue, a group of farrier friends, led by Tom Maker and Dan Crotty, quietly took their places as headers and side walkers for the team. I didn't even know they were at the funeral.

I gathered the reins and did my best to cluck. We were on our way. My father's casket had a regal final trip, and a security detail, when I least expected it and most needed it. 

May you all always have a farrier friend in the crowd when you need but don't expect one.

• • • • • • 

More about Prince Philip's equestrian pursuits: The FEI tells us that he took up Four-in-hand Driving when it became an FEI discipline in the early 1970s. He placed sixth individually in the 1982 World Championships. He was a Member of the British gold medal team at the 1980 World Championships and a member of the British bronze medal teams at the 1978, 1982 and 1984 World Championships. 

At today's funeral you saw a team of his Fells ponies, an endangered breed. The Queen bred one of the pair you saw today. The dark green aluminum and steel carriage was designed by Prince Philip for his personal use at the age of 91. He downsized gradually to ponies.

Prince Philip authored a book about his passion for driving; "30 Years On And Off The Box Seat" was its humorous title.

To learn more:
Queen Elizabeth stops runaway coach horses
© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; you are reading the online news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. Please, no re-use of text or images without permission--please share links or use social media sharing instead. Do not copy and paste text or images--thank you! (Please ask if you would like to receive permission.)

In addition to reading directly online, this site is accessible via RSS feed. You may also receive emails containing headlines and links(requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

The helpful "translator" tool in the right sidebar will convert this article (approximately) to the language of your choice.

To share this article on Facebook and other social media, click on the small icons below. Be sure to "like" the Hoofcare and Lameness Facebook page and click on "get notifications" under the page's "like" button to keep up with the hoof news on Facebook. Or, paste this article's address from the browser bar into your post.

Questions or problems with this site? Click here to send an email: hoofblog (at)

Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofBlog

Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page

Enjoy images from via our Instagram account.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Hoofcare Publishing has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to third party brands, products, or services mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Hoofcare + Lameness is reader-supported. If you purchase items through links on this site, the company may earn a small affiliate commission, at no cost to you.