Kate Middleton Learning to Ride Horses

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smiles as she talks to athletes during a reception held for Team GB Olympic and Paralympic London 2012 medalists at Buckingham Palace on October 23, 2012 in London, England.  John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Kate Middleton made a surprise appearance — her first in weeks — at a royal reception for Britain's Olympic and Paralympic medalists at Buckingham Palace in London, England, Oct. 23. The event was hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip.

Wearing go-to designer Alice Temperley, the Duchess of Cambridge, 30, spent time talking to each athlete, including para-equestrian rider Lee Pearson, who won his 10th gold medal during the London Games.

"Kate Middleton told me she's learning to ride so I offered to give her some lessons," he told the U.K.'s The Telegraph. "She held my medals and said how heavy they were, and asked me if I'd been riding all my life."

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Though it's been reported Middleton is allergic to horses, a rep for the royal couple told E! News in July 2012 that the rumor "is not true." A love of horses runs deep in the royal family, as both Prince William, 30, and Prince Harry, 28, play polo.

Middleton also spoke to cyclist Jason Kenny at the reception, though he was too starstruck to remember their conversation. "I just spoke to anyone who came up and wanted to talk," he admitted to The Telegraph. "It is amazing and it is something that does not happen every day — that is for sure. Everything is a bit of a blur. I was a bit nervous."

William's wife of 18 months also met 12 members of the women's hockey team. "The Duchess just said how much she enjoyed watching our games," team member Emily Maguire said. "She's lovely. She's just so easy to talk to and because she herself played hockey she has a real connection to the sport."

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