The 3 Greatest Moments In Shire Horse Society History

Posted by Norsworthy on January 6th, 2021

In North America, early Native Americans had fantastic respect for horses, and while the founders of the United States of America might not have actually shared that reverence initially, they nonetheless appreciated the animal's significant functions in transport, agriculture, sport and the armed force. At the end of the 18th century in the United States, with the death of America's very first president, a new role emerged: the riderless horse representing the mount of a fallen leader.

A previous officer in the American Revolutionary War, Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee eulogized George Washington in December 1799 as being "... first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his fellow citizens ..." Twelve days after Washington's death at Mt. Vernon, a riderless horse participated in an elaborate, simulated funeral ceremony performed in Philadelphia, the then-capital of the United States, with an empty coffin symbolizing the late president. The occasion was described in The Pennsylvania Gazette:

Right away preceding the clergy in the funeral procession, 2 marines using black scarves escorted the horse, who brought the general's "saddle, holsters, and pistols" and boots reversed in the stirrups. The riderless horse was "trimmed with black - the head festooned with stylish black and white plumes - the American Eagle displayed in a rose upon the breast, and in a feather upon the head."

The empty boots facing backward in the stirrups had two levels of significance. Their being empty suggested the individual would ride no more. They suggested the deceased was taking one last look back at his family and the troops he commanded. Both of these meanings continue to today's custom of boots reversed in the stirrups.

In 1850 the funeral of President Zachary Taylor, a previous Army basic celebrated as "Old Rough and Ready," took a more individual turn, so to speak. Taylor's own Army horse, Old Whitey, was strolled in the funeral procession while bearing the military saddle used in combat throughout the Mexican-American War, when Old Rough and Ready sat astride him as "shots buzzed around his head." As in the Philadelphia event celebrating George Washington, the general's boots were turned backwards in the stirrups.

A light gray horse, Old Whitey was familiar to many who witnessed the funeral cortege that day in 1850. He had actually ended up being a popular traveler destination while grazing on the front yard of the White House throughout his master's sixteen-month presidency, which ended quickly when Taylor was overruled by an alleged gastrointestinal complication that apparently stemmed from consuming cold milk and cherries on an incredibly hot day.

Possibly since the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln was instantly recognized as a profound catastrophe in American history, Lincoln's funeral service was orchestrated on a grand scale befitting the people's adulation. A funeral train carrying his casket traveled almost 1,700 miles through 180 cities and towns in seven states, stopping occasionally for public watchings and homages, as it progressed towards its final location, Springfield, Illinois, where a young Abe had actually grown to manhood.

This marks the first time we have pictures of the riderless horse taking part in the funeral of an American president. Of the numerous images of Lincoln's horse Old Bob, one of the most unforgettable shows him draped in a black mourning blanket bordered in white, trimmed with rotating black and white tassels, and a black hood topped by a sophisticated head-dressing as he stands in front of a building with windows curtained and adorned in a similar manner.

Ridden by Lincoln from town to town while the self-educated legal representative campaigned for workplace, Old Bob was highlighted of retirement in a pasture for his master's final rites. He was led in the funeral procession by the Reverend Henry Brown, an African-American minister who performed periodic handyman tasks for the Lincolns, as they followed the hearse to Lincoln's resting place.

Strangely enough, the tradition of the riderless horse in funeral services of American presidents was not observed for the next eighty years. It was not up until 1945, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died unexpectedly while in his 4th term as president, that the horse appears again. As it turned out, the horse seems to have been nearly an afterthought in the plans for FDR's funeral service.

Roosevelt's death stunned Americans to the core, and inasmuch as U.S. federal government authorities were concentrated on the shift to their new leader in a world at war, it is understandable that the participation of a riderless horse in FDR's funeral procession might not have received the attention it had in earlier days. This is how the New York Herald Tribune described the matter:

The funeral procession was in Hyde Park, New York, where the late president was buried in a garden on the Roosevelt estate. We will presume the saber was attached to a saddle and bounced gently off the horse's side.

The year 1963 significant another distressing time for Americans, particularly the family of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 23rd. The riderless horse who participated in JFK's funeral procession would end up being the most distinguished of them all: Black Jack, who would represent the install of a fallen leader in the processions for Kennedy, Presidents Herbert Hoover (1964) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1973 ), as well as General Douglas MacArthur (1964 ), among other prominent Americans.

The procedure for Black Jack in Kennedy's funeral procession would set the standard for riderless horses from 1963 to the present day. He was added with a black modified English riding saddle and black bridle. Black, stimulated cavalry boots dealt with backwards in the stirrups, and a scabbard with sword hung from the back of the saddle's right side. Positioned underneath the saddle, a heavy saddle cloth, or saddle blanket, was ornamental in style.

He was a military horse called in honor of General of the Armies John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, Black Jack was not born into the service. A dark bay Morgan-Quarterhorse cross with a small star on his forehead, he was foaled on a Kansas farm in 1947 and later on acquired by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps for remount service, the remount referring to a soldier's requirement to replace an install that had actually been hurt or killed in the days of the U.S. Cavalry. The Army then delivered Black Jack to the Fort Reno, Oklahoma, Remount Depot, where he was raised and trained.

He was not a high horse - 15 hands, weighing 1,050 pounds - however he had a big character and was perky. In his first outing as a riderless horse in a funeral procession to Arlington, he pranced and danced a fantastic offer.

When Black Jack passed away in 1976, his remains were cremated and his ashes buried with complete military honors. A monument on the parade ground at Fort Myer's Summerall Field attests to the degree he had actually been revered. Raven, another dark horse, succeeded Black Jack in his responsibilities as a riderless horse.

Raven made no appearance in the funeral procession of an American president, although he likely participated in more than a thousand funerals of military leaders who were eligible for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The magnificent funeral service attended to presidents, who are military commanders-in-chief, is also available to Army and USMC officers having a rank of colonel or higher, and there are lots of such officers among Arlington's honored dead.

At this point a reference need to be made of President Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, who died in March 1969 and was buried in Abilene, Kansas. No horse of record participated in the Kansas funeral ceremonies, but previously, in Washington, a riderless horse did follow the horse-drawn caisson bearing Eisenhower's coffin from the Washington National Cathedral to the Capitol, where the late president lay in state for public watching in the Capitol Rotunda.

A video of the procession from the Cathedral to the Capitol shows a riderless horse who is nearly liver chestnut in color with a small star on his forehead, a horse whose prancing and dancing in the procession, and pawing impatiently while standing "at rest," bear a suspicious resemblance to Black Jack's habits. If the fidelity of the color in the video is flawed, and the horse's coat is certainly nearly black, it might be that BJ, as Black Jack's grooms and walkers called him, had a connection with the male who was the most popular military commander of World War II and, later on, the 34th president of the U.S

. The most current riderless horse to represent the mount of a departed American president, and the last on record, followed the caisson bearing the body of Ronald Reagan in 2004. Reagan was later on buried in Simi Valley, California, so here again we have something of an Eisenhower scenario. The late president's tan, spurred riding boots were reversed in the stirrups, replacing the black cavalry boots traditionally used. The procession in Washington ended at the Capitol, where a closed casket lay in state for seeing.

The riderless horse in the procession commemorating Ronald Reagan was Sergeant York, a dark bay gelding named for the embellished American soldier of World War I, Alvin C. York. Before Sergeant York the horse got in military service, however, he had plied a sell harness racing for numerous years under the name Allaboard Jules. A standardbred foaled in 1991, Allaboard Jules became an Army horse with a popular name in 1997.


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