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Horses in the military; a rider’s last journey-the caparisoned horse

26 May

BLACK JACK, horse at JFK funeralA black horse being lead in a funeral procession is one image that was burned into my young horse loving head. I imagine it was largely due to my fascination of all things horses but it was also due to the deep emotions of the adults around me combined with the ceremony and tradition. When I was older I learned that these were images from the funeral of President John F. Kennedy.

The tradition of a single riderless horse with boots reversed in the stirrups symbolizes a riders last journey and suggests that the solider is taking one last look at his family. The custom seems to have origins around the time of Genghis Khan when a horse was sacrificed to serve the fallen warrior in the next world. Thankfully for horses everywhere the custom of sacrifice turned to symbolism of a rider who would ride no more.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 1.18.04 PM

The name “caparisoned horse’ references the precise and detailed coverings which have a detailed military protocol all to themselves. It is traditional for a caparisoned horse to follow the casket of an Army or or Marine Corps officer who was a colonel or above. Abraham Lincoln was the first U.S. President to be honored with a caparisoned horse in his funeral in 1865 because of having been the nation’s military commander in chief.

I have learned that the horse I remembered was named Black Jack and he served in the funerals of three presidents; Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy. Black Jack was only the second horse in U.S. history to be buried with full military honors at Fort Myer.

Black Jack

Black Jack served in the funerals of three presidents; Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy. Black Jack was only the second horse in U.S. history to be buried with full military honors at Fort Myer.

Much of my info came from these website you may want to visit:

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/jointservices/a/funeralhonors.htm

http://blog.al.com/live/2013/11/arthur_black_jack_and_kennedy.html

http://dying.about.com/b/2013/11/20/black-jack-the-riderless-horse-in-jfks-funeral-procession.htm

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Life

 

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6 responses to “Horses in the military; a rider’s last journey-the caparisoned horse

  1. Wanda Hodgins

    May 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a similar ceremony for those who chose a military funeral.

     
  2. Flo

    May 26, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    … Black Jack was a Standardbred.

     
    • Sharon

      May 27, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      According to Wikipedia, Black Jack was a Morgan/Quarter Horse cross, not a Standardbred.

       
  3. Janette

    May 26, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I too had a similar image burned into my young horse loving brain. It had such a profound effect on me, I made it my duty as an adult to continue this tradition on our day to remember the sacrifice of war. I have led my Australian Waler horse (war horse) for ten years now in this manner on our day to remember (ANZAC DAY). I still struggle to control my emotions when ever I see a riderless horse with the boots reversed.

    I don’t know how to add a picture, so all I can offer is a link to a video of us.

     
  4. http://theenglishprofessoratlarge.com

    May 26, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    It’s a picture not to be forgotten. I have seen photos and tv news events of Kennedy and Johnson’s funerals with Black Jack doing the honors at the time of their occurrence. As a horse lover, I’m very glad and grateful that they buried him with honors, too.

     
  5. athena

    May 26, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    yeah its not to be forgotten

     

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