Royal horses

Glazen koetsHow powerful is your car engine? Nowadays, an auto engine’s power is measured in kilowatts (kW). But you may still encounter the term “horsepower” (hp) in car magazines and programs. On “Prinsjesdag” in The Hague, you can get a real live illustration of horsepower. “Prinsjesdag” takes place on the third Tuesday of September. It is the day when the reigning monarch of the Netherlands (currently King Willem-Alexander) addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives in the “Ridderzaal” in The Hague. The “Troonrede” (speech from the throne) sets out the main features of government policy for the coming parliamentary session. The king and queen ride through The Hague in the “Glazen Koets” (Glass Coach) drawn by eight horses. One might indeed describe the royal transport as having “8 horsepower”.
Coach horses
DSCN1826On average 24 coach horses are housed in the Royal Stables. They are from three different breeds: Friesian, Groninger and Gelders. All horse are exercised daily. New royal coach horses are selected very carefully. They need to stay calm in all circumstances and have no fear of people. When I visited the Royal Stables last summer, the horses showed a striking interest in me and my fellow visitors. They asked for a pet and a cuddle and showed themselves off as real social animals.
Paard koninklijke stallenThe royal horses are in the hands of excellent caretakers. And treated with modern equipment, such as a solarium with infrared lights to dry the horses after wash-down. This prevents them from catching a chill. The active life of the horses is also reflected in the frequency with which they get new shoes, two or three times as often as many other horses.
Koning willem II den haagTo get a coach moving, it needs to be attached to the horses with some form of harness. The harnesses used on Prinsjesdag were purchased in England between 1815 and 1830 by the then Prince of Orange (later King William II).
8 or 6
Willem-Alexander and Máxima rode in the Gouden Koets on their wedding day on February 2, 2002. But then only 6 horses drew the coach. The use of 8 horses is a privilege reserved for the ruling head of state, and at that time Willem-Alexander was still crown prince. Would you like to meet the royal horses in person? More info about visits to the Royal Stables during the summer holidays on this website:  Tickets. Do you want to know more about the Dutch Royal Family and royal events? Then invite your family or friends to do the Orange Walk.

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Jacqueline Alders 3

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