Princess Anne has been greeted by dozens of young horse riders near Brisbane, but the royal visitor was a little reticent when handed a stuffed koala.

Princess Anne’s love for horses is well known, but she revealed during a royal visit near Brisbane she might not be as fond of one of Australia’s most iconic animals.

The Princess Royal visited the Riding for the Disabled Australia’s (RDA) Cartmill Centre in Burpengary, north of Brisbane, on Thursday, where she was greeted by dozens of young horse riders and their families.

Eight-year-old Sharni Bailey was thrilled to present Anne with a stuffed koala toy.

But her grandmother Lyn Bailey said the princess seemed relieved she didn’t have to handle the real thing.

“She turned the bear upside down and she said, ‘I think this is more friendly than the real ones’,” Mrs Bailey said.

Meanwhile, rider Kian Lai was proud he handled himself well during his first brush with royalty.

“It was nerve-racking,” the 11-year-old said after presenting flowers to Anne.

The princess, a patron of the charity, arrived late for the meet-and-greet dressed in a nondescript beige suit and stayed for about 45 minutes.

One of her first orders of business was to lay a wreath in memory of three of the charity’s horses – Score, Manny and Kiwi – which were lost in the 2009 Queensland floods.

The visit was her first to Riding for the Disabled Australia since she appeared at the charity’s West Australian office in 1987.

Anne has been in Brisbane attending the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth Conference.