A Visual History of Iconic Celebrity Horse Girl Moments

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Bella Hadid on a horse
Courtesy of @bellahadid

Each year, the Kentucky Derby kicks off the race to the Triple Crown. And while the the event is famous for its outrageous hats, signature mint julep drink, and, of course, betting, it’s always a reminder that there is indeed a lot to love about the animal (even when it’s named something ridiculous like Tiz the Bomb). Bella and Gigi Hadid are famously passionate about horses and often seek solace from their hectic life on the runways by hopping into the saddle at their family’s idyllic farm. But they aren’t the only ones who’ve transformed the way we’ve come to think of so-called “horse girls” in recent years. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll find that they have plenty of celebrity forebears who’ve been hiding in plain sight. From those like Audrey Hepburn, who moonlit as an equestrian, to the long-time horse-obsessed like Queen Elizabeth II, take a trot down celebrity horse girl memory lane.

Audrey Hepburn
Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images

As memorable as it was short-lived, Audrey Hepburn’s tenure as a horse girl came to a sudden halt when the actress broke her back while filming the 1960 film The Unforgiven. And yet not even that could dampen the then up-and-coming equestrian’s spirits; as she was boarding an ambulance plane after being strapped into a stretcher, Hepburn appeared to be having the time of her life.

Kendall Jenner
Courtesy of @kendalljenner

Don’t let this image fool you: Kendall Jenner looks perfectly content here, prancing around the Château de Chambord in France, but horses aren’t all fun and games, as the supermodel well knows. For Jenner, horses have been everything from her only friends in middle school to campaign costars to, apparently, vehicles for starting some vicious drama, as seemed to be the case in the wake of the passing of Sofia Richie’s horse Dragon—the same name that Jenner ended up giving the new horse she got while Richie was still in mourning.

Bianca Jagger
Photo by Rose Hartman via Getty Images

As legend has it, in 1977, during a brief but inimitable stint as a horse girl, Bianca Jagger made her presence known at her 30th birthday party by casually riding into Studio 54 atop a giant white horse. But Jagger, an animal rights activist, has since clarified what actually went down that night: She did not arrive on the horse, but she did ride it all throughout Studio 54, led by a naked “giant” covered in gold glitter—which, all things considered, is no less impressive. To Jagger, however, there’s clearly a distinction; she wrote a letter to the editor of the Financial Times in an effort “put this Studio 54 fable out to pasture.”

Martha Stewart
Courtesy of @marthastewart

It takes just one look at Martha Stewart’s personal Instagram to learn that the 80-year-old mogul is a major animal lover. While most closely associated with creatures such as her chow chows (Emperor Han and Empress Qin), French bull dogs (Bete Noir and Creme Brulee), and peacocks, Stewart is also known to enjoy an aquatic ride through the ocean when on vacation. (Hot tip: You can stay up to date on all her extremely detailed equestrian content in the “horses” section of her blog.)

Jackie Kennedy
Photo by PhotoQuest via Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy was just a year old when she rode her first horse. She went on to become such a noted equestrian that in 1962, the then-President of Pakistan gave her a bay gelding named Sardar. Eventually, she convinced her husband, President John F. Kennedy, to allowe Sardar to skip customs and board a military plane so that he could join them for strolls like the above, with their daughter, Caroline, and her horse Macaroni, in the U.S.

Photo by Arnaldo Magnani via Getty Images

Just two months after breaking her hand and collarbone and cracking three ribs by falling off of a horse, Madonna made her official horseback comeback on the streets of New York City with fellow equestrian David Letterman. She took the comeback a step further, with six stallions and a whip, in the pages of W the very next year, in 2006.

Lady Gaga
Courtesy of @ladygaga

Lady Gaga’s peak horse-girl moment is a tragic one: Earlier this year, she rushed out of the Critics’ Choice Awards to be with her dying horse Arabella, who was a gift from her record label and the first horse Gaga ever rode. (Not that that stopped her from riding her bareback.) “Our souls and spirits were one. When she was in pain, so was I,” she later wrote in a tribute on Instagram, which included her memories of “galloping through canyons” with Arabella and feeding her cookies. “She will forever be a part of me.”

Bella Hadid
Courtesy of @bellahadid

On a lighter note, Bella Hadid is also a fan of riding bareback—and so skilled at it that she and her horse maintained the above position long enough to capture the three striking Instagrams that comprised one of her best posts to date. No wonder Calvin Klein got a horse to join her in the underwear campaign it dropped a week earlier.

Lola Leon
© Courtesy of Burberry / Torso Solutions

It was no surprise that Riccardo Tisci cast Bella Hadid in Burberry’s latest ad for its Lola bag. But Hadid wasn’t alone: Lola Leon, the 25-year-old model and daughter of Madonna, joined her in hopping onto the (mechanical) saddle. Talk about a memorable campaign image.

Elizabeth Taylor
Photo by Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images

If it weren’t for horses, we may never have learned the name Elizabeth Taylor. The late movie star landed her breakout role in National Velvet (1944) thanks in large part to her riding skills, and developed such a strong bond with The Pie that MGM gave him to her as a gift.

Mary-Kate Olsen
Photo by Samuel de Roman via Getty Images

A little-known fact: Mary-Kate Olsen has been committed to steeplechasing since she was all of six years old. And while she now spends most of her time designing, Olsen—who once recorded a song titled “My Horse and Me” with her sister Ashley—hasn’t forgotten her equestrian roots. Just a few weeks before she and Ashley accepted the CFDA’s 2019 Accessories Designer of the Year Award for The Row, she could be found competing at the Longines Global Champions Tour in Madrid.

Queen Elizabeth II
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Young as she was when she ascended to the throne, “Queen” wasn’t Queen Elizabeth II’s first title; at that point, she’d already more than established herself as a horse girl, which she remains to this day, even in her nineties. We won’t soon forget the time that she distracted royal watchers from Kate Middleton giving birth by going for a horseback ride sans helmet.

Queen Elizabeth II
Courtesy of @theroyalfamily

We might as well call her Her Royal Horse Girl. For her most recent official birthday photo, the Queen posed alongside her ponies Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie.

Charlotte Casiraghi
Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage via Getty Images

Charlotte Casiraghi, who is currently eleventh in line to the throne of Monaco, served up a reminder that QEII isn’t the only royal horse girl when she interrupted a video of her riding a horse by emerging from backstage atop a real-life one at Chanel’s spring 2022 runway show.

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