In 2003, the museum unveiled its second self-produced international exhibition. All the Queen’s Horses was the most comprehensive exhibition ever to explore the rich equestrian heritage of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. It offered an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the width and breadth of British history through the eyes of their most steadfast partner – the horse. Three years in the making, this world-exclusive exhibition featured 450 artifacts and 58 paintings, most of which had never been exhibited outside of Britain.
All the Queen’s Horses was assembled from 70 public and private collections throughout Britain including those of the Royal Family, Royal Collections, British Museum, British Library, Royal Armouries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate (Britain) Museum, Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, National Museums of Scotland, National Museums and Galleries of Wales, National Horseracing Museum, Yale Center for British Art and the Museum of London.
The artifacts reflected the exhibition’s broad scope and included the earliest known example of human art ever found in Britain – a flat bone with a detailed incised horse’s head dating from 10,500 BCE. Other artifacts included a 3rd century BC Scottish pony head armor decorated with intricate Celtic designs; gilded bronze Roman cavalry helmets and face mask; a knight from the famous 12th century Lewis chessmen; Henry VIII’s Burgundian horse armor; Elizabeth I’s sidesaddle; the spurs of Charles I; paintings and artifacts relating to the development of the thoroughbred and racing; an outstanding collection of material from the Battle of Waterloo; two miniature carriages of Queen Victoria’s children, and various items from the current Royal Family.
All the Queen’s Horses also featured a stellar collection of 58 paintings. Some of the artists represented include George Stubbs, J. F. Herring, Sr., Edwin Landseer, James Pollard, John Wootton, Lady Butler and Sir Alfred Munnings.