The Riderless Horse in American Presidents’ Funerals
- June 25, 2017
- Posted by: marlenedubois
- Category: CPR Training
While having roots in antiquity, the custom of a riderless horse participating in a funeral procession has changed dramatically since the time of an ancient legend of mourners leading a horse to a burial site, where in which was slaughtered in addition to eaten as part of a ritual. Horses were occasionally sacrificed to ensure in which their souls could accompany their masters into an afterlife, were buried in tombs through time to time for the same purpose, in addition to were dispatched on similar journeys to another world well into the 14th century.
In North America, early Native Americans had great reverence for horses, in addition to while the founders of the United States of America may not have shared in which reverence initially, they nonetheless respected the animal’s significant roles in transportation, agriculture, sport in addition to the military. At the end of the 18th century inside the United States, with the death of America’s first president, a brand new role emerged: the riderless horse representing the mount of a fallen leader.
A former officer inside the American Revolutionary War, Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee eulogized George Washington in December 1799 as being “…first in war, first in peace in addition to first inside the hearts of his countrymen…” Twelve days after Washington’s death at Mt. Vernon, a riderless horse took part in an elaborate, simulated funeral ceremony conducted in Philadelphia, the then-capital of the United States, with an empty casket symbolizing the late president. The event was described in The Pennsylvania Gazette:
Immediately preceding the clergy inside the funeral procession, two marines wearing black scarves escorted the horse, who carried the general’s “saddle, holsters, in addition to pistols” in addition to boots reversed inside the stirrups. The riderless horse was “trimmed with black – the head festooned with elegant black in addition to white feathers – the American Eagle displayed in a rose upon the breast, in addition to in a feather upon the head.”
The empty boots facing backward inside the stirrups had two levels of meaning. First, their being empty indicated the individual might ride no more. Secondly, they suggested the deceased was taking one last look back at his family in addition to the troops he commanded. Both of these meanings carry forward to today’s tradition of boots reversed inside the stirrups.
In 1850 the funeral of President Zachary Taylor, a former Army general celebrated as “Old Rough in addition to Ready,” took a more personal turn, so to speak. Taylor’s own Army horse, Old Whitey, was walked inside the funeral procession while bearing the military saddle worn in combat during the Mexican-American War, when Old Rough in addition to Ready sat astride him as “shots buzzed around his head.” As inside the Philadelphia ceremony commemorating George Washington, the general’s boots were turned backward inside the stirrups.
A light gray horse, Old Whitey was familiar to many who witnessed the funeral cortege in which day in 1850. He had become a well-liked tourist attraction while grazing on the front lawn of the White House during his master’s sixteen-month presidency, which ended abruptly when Taylor was struck down by an alleged gastrointestinal complication in which reportedly stemmed through ingesting cold milk in addition to cherries on an extremely hot day.
Perhaps because the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln was immediately recognized as a profound tragedy in American history, Lincoln’s funeral was orchestrated on a grand scale befitting the people’s adulation. A funeral train carrying his casket traveled nearly 1,700 miles through 180 cities in addition to towns in seven states, stopping occasionally for public viewings in addition to tributes, as in which progressed toward its final destination, Springfield, Illinois, where a young Abe had grown to manhood.
This particular marks once we have photographs of the riderless horse participating inside the funeral of an American president. Of the many photos of Lincoln’s horse Old Bob, one of the most memorable shows him draped in a black mourning blanket bordered in white, trimmed with alternating black in addition to white tassels, in addition to a black hood topped by an elaborate head-dressing as he stands in front of a building with windows draped in addition to adorned in a similar manner.
Ridden by Lincoln through town to town while the self-educated lawyer campaigned for office, Old Bob was brought out of retirement in a pasture for his master’s final rites. He was led inside the funeral procession by the Reverend Henry Brown, an African-American minister who performed occasional handyman tasks for the Lincolns, as they followed the hearse to Lincoln’s resting place.
Curiously, the tradition of the riderless horse in funerals of American presidents was not observed for the next eighty years. in which was not until 1945, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died unexpectedly while in his fourth term as president, in which the horse appears once more. As in which turned out, the horse seems to have been almost an afterthought inside the plans for FDR’s funeral.
Roosevelt’s death stunned Americans to the core, in addition to inasmuch as U.S. government officials were focused on the transition to their brand new leader in a world at war, in which is actually understandable in which the participation of a riderless horse in FDR’s funeral procession may not have received the attention in which had in earlier days. This particular is actually how the brand new York Herald Tribune described the matter:
“Directly in back of the caisson (bearing FDR’s flag-draped casket), a Negro soldier led a riderless horse.” The horse was “draped in black, its head covered in a dark cowl, in addition to a saber bouncing gently off the horse’s belly.” The funeral procession was in Hyde Park, brand new York, where the late president was buried in a garden on the Roosevelt estate. We will assume the saber was attached to a saddle in addition to bounced gently off the horse’s side.
The year 1963 marked another traumatic time for Americans, particularly the family of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 23rd. The riderless horse who took part in JFK’s funeral procession might become the most renowned of them all: Black Jack, who might represent the mount of a fallen leader inside the processions for Kennedy, Presidents Herbert Hoover (1964) in addition to Lyndon B. Johnson (1973), as well as General Douglas MacArthur (1964), among additional prominent Americans.
The protocol for Black Jack in Kennedy’s funeral procession might set the standard for riderless horses through 1963 to the present day. He was tacked having a black modified English riding saddle in addition to black bridle. Black, spurred cavalry boots faced backward inside the stirrups, in addition to a scabbard with sword hung through the rear of the saddle’s right side. Positioned beneath the saddle, a heavy saddle cloth, or saddle blanket, was ornamental in design.
Although he was a military horse named 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 having a modest star on his forehead, he was foaled on a Kansas farm in 1947 in addition to later purchased by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps for remount service, the remount referring to a soldier’s need to replace a mount in which had been injured or killed inside the days of the U.S. Cavalry. The Army then shipped Black Jack to the Fort Reno, Oklahoma, Remount Depot, where he was raised in addition to trained.
He was not a tall horse – 15 hands, weighing 1,050 pounds – nevertheless he had a big personality in addition to was spirited. In fact, his rambunctious spirit was a problem for his handlers when he was transferred in 1952 to Fort Myer, the Army post adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In his first outing as a riderless horse in a funeral procession to Arlington, he pranced in addition to danced a great deal. Mourners liked his spirited nature, however, in addition to so his unmilitary antics were tolerated. Those antics continued until he was retired in 1973 after participating in several thousand funerals.
When Black Jack passed away in 1976, his remains were cremated in addition to his ashes buried with full military honors. A monument on the parade ground at Fort Myer’s Summerall Field attests to the degree he had been revered. Raven, another dark horse, succeeded Black Jack in his duties as a riderless horse.
Raven made no appearance inside 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 stately funeral service provided for presidents, who are military commanders-in-chief, is actually also available to Army in addition to USMC officers having a rank of colonel or higher, in addition to there are many such officers among Arlington’s honored dead.
At This particular point a mention should be made of President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, who passed away in March 1969 in addition to was buried in Abilene, Kansas. No horse of record participated inside the Kansas funeral ceremonies, nevertheless earlier, in Washington, a riderless horse did follow the horse-drawn caisson bearing Eisenhower’s casket through the Washington National Cathedral to the Capitol, where the late president lay in state for public viewing inside the Capitol Rotunda.
A video of the procession through the Cathedral to the Capitol shows a riderless horse who is actually nearly liver chestnut in coloring having a modest star on his forehead, a horse whose prancing in addition to dancing inside the procession, in addition to pawing impatiently while standing “at rest,” bear a suspicious resemblance to Black Jack’s behavior. If the fidelity of the coloring inside the video is actually flawed, in addition to the horse’s coat is actually indeed nearly black, in which could be in which BJ, as Black Jack’s grooms in addition to walkers called him, had a connection with the man who was the most well-liked military commander of World War II in addition to, later, the 34th president of the U.S.
The most recent riderless horse to represent the mount of a deceased American president, in addition to the last on record, followed the caisson bearing the body of Ronald Reagan in 2004. Reagan was later buried in Simi Valley, California, so here again we have something of an Eisenhower situation. The late president’s tan, spurred riding boots were reversed inside 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 viewing.
The riderless horse inside the procession paying tribute to Ronald Reagan was Sergeant York, a dark bay gelding named for the decorated American soldier of World War I, Alvin C. York. Before Sergeant York the horse entered military service, however, he had plied a trade in harness racing for several years under the name Allaboard Jules. A standardbred foaled in 1991, Allaboard Jules became an Army horse having a famous name in 1997.
The military has been referred to many times in This particular article, which will draw to a close with an explanation for those many references.
In 1948, the Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment was assigned the responsibility of organizing in addition to conducting the funeral processions of American presidents laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, as well as additional Americans eligible for burial with military honors in Arlington. The Old Guard, as the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is actually known, was formed in 1784, is actually the oldest active unit inside the U.S. Army, in addition to is actually based at Fort Myer, Virginia, adjacent to the nation’s most hallowed cemetery.
The Old Guard’s Caisson Platoon provided the muscle in addition to polish for the formal in addition to elegant funeral procession honoring JFK in 1963, as well as the processions in which followed in which point of time in This particular article. The soldiers inside the Caisson Platoon are dedicated to tradition, are respectful of the honored dead, respectful of the forty or more horses they provide care for, respectful in their maintenance of the 1918 caissons in which bear the caskets to their final resting places with full military tribute.
The riderless horse is actually also known as the caparisoned horse, the caparison referring to the ornamental design on the horse’s saddle cloth, or saddle blanket. The solider who leads the riderless horse is actually called the cap walker, in addition to inside the case of the spirited Black Jack, the young cap walker handling him in a procession likely had quite a story to tell his comrades inside the Caisson Platoon at the end of day.