In 1981, the Queen was riding her favourite horse, Burmese, during the Trooping of the Colour in London, when a teenager fired a mail-order replica revolver. Six blanks were aimed at Her Majesty as she entered Horse Guards Parade.
The mare reacted calmly to the shots, continuing to walk after taking a hop. The minimal interruption to the parade was put down to the special bond between rider and horse.
Burmese was born in 1962 on the RCMP Remount Ranch at Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills. She excelled in training in Ottawa under the eye of RCMP Staff Sergeant Fred Rasmussen and assumed the role of lead file horse for the RCMP Musical Ride during Canada’s centennial celebrations in 1967.
Greatly admired by the Queen, she was presented to her as a gift in 1969 when Mounties took their Musical Ride to Britain for the Royal Windsor Horse Show and a tour of Britain. Burmese quickly became a favourite of Her Majesty. For 18 years, she rode the dependable mare for the Trooping of the Colour.
After Burmese was retired in 1986, the Queen took to riding a carriage for the parade.
When Burmese died circa 1990, the Queen had her buried on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The story of Burmese is told by Tom Reardon in a 2005 edition of Canadian Cowboy Country. In it, he says that the beloved black mare left such an enduring legacy that in September 2000, a visitor from England wrote to Lieutenant Governor Dr. Lynda Haverstock, suggesting a statue depicting the Queen riding Burmese be created. It was decided that the statue project would be part of Saskatchewan’s Centennial celebrations.
In 2005, at the Saskatchean legislature, the Queen unveiled a statue of herself riding Burmese. It had been sculpted by Susan Velder of St. Walburg, SK.