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Camilla, the horse whisperer

On Thursday, the Duchess of Cornwall celebrated the 21st anniversary of the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, South London, where she serves as president. While visiting the club, she watched jockies being put through their paces; she handed out rosettes and gained a new title of a horse whisperer.

Pedro, a Shetland pony, has a reputation at the horse club for having quite an attitude. After seeing the Duchess entering his paddock, he came right up to her and greeted her with a sniff, hoping to make friends. The 17-year-old pony has a periscope in his paddock, allowing him to see over his gate. It has been adapted so he might see throughout the yard.

Natasha Williams learned to ride at the club. Ms Williams, who hosted Her Royal Highness’s visit, told The Guardian about Pedro and his well-known attitude: “Pedro is incredibly grumpy; he does love people and hates people at the same time.

“There’s even a story about him being taken to a wedding and biting the bride.”

Camilla met fundraisers, supporters, volunteers and young riders during her visit. She watched a trainee jockey being put through their paces on a mechanical race horse, as well.

She also met Spin, a 16-year-old Arab cross, while a group of children from the community groomed him. Holly Lieberson, a youth worker at the centre, told The Guardian: “The Duchess said she normally brings polos, and she felt terrible because she had left them behind.

“Spin was expecting something because he went straight to her hand.”

After meeting everyone there, Camilla watched a demonstration of precision drill riding before finally cutting a birthday cake commemorating the centre’s 21st anniversary.

Natasha Williams summed up the effect the Ebony Horse Club has on those children and youth who utilise the facilities: “I’ve seen children who have been distraught by home issues or school life or bullying or things like that, but one thing you notice very quickly, even if they don’t seem OK at the time: by the time they leave here, they feel better able to deal with their struggles.”

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