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Royal pony arrives in New Zealand

Monday 30 Dec 2013 5:57 p.m.

A member of the royal family has jetted into Auckland and will now call New Zealand home.

For the first time ever the Queen has sold one of her prized Highland ponies to a stud on this side of the world, and its new Kiwi owner had to jump through hoops to get her here.

Thirty-three hours on a plane and two weeks in quarantine are hardly surroundings fit for royalty, but now Balmoral Lui is headed to the comfort of Susie Ralston's Auckland stud.

"It's an amazing honour," says Ms Ralston. "I would never in a million years thought I could've purchased a pony from the Queen and her let me bring the pony out here."

New Zealand's only Highland pony stud owner is not fazed dealing with the royals.

Eighteen months ago, after seeing Her Majesty's prized Highland ponies on show in Scotland, she approached her stud manager at Balmoral Castle to buy semen from the Queen's champion stallion. 

"They were so pleased I called and said, 'Hello Susie, great, yep, come and see our ponies, come and see the stallion we have standing here and we'll have a chat,'" says Ms Ralston.

But now she's gone a step further, purchasing the three-year-old filly Balmoral Lui for what she calls a fair market rate.

Balmoral Castle's stud manager has told 3 News in statement they're excited to see Lui landing on New Zealand shores, and Her Majesty is looking forward to regular monthly updates.

"She's delighted these are the first ponies over in New Zealand and she was so pleased she could help the development of the stud."

The Queen has grown up with the mini draft horses, renowned for being even tempered and versatile. They were also a favourite of Queen Victoria.

"At Balmoral they're trained to bring the deer down from the hills used for hunting. You've probably seen the Queen riding their ponies. They're very much working ponies."

And with plans for a foal from the royal addition to Lochnagar Stud, all Balmoral Lui has to work on now is settling in and cutting back on the carrots.    

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