X is for horses that are X-tra special to their presidents
George Washington (1789-1797), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), John Tyler (1841-1845), Zachary Taylor (1849-1850), Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), and Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877).
Nelson and Blueskin
President George Washington had many horses but his favorites were his two war-time mounts, Nelson and Blueskin. Nelson was a chestnut or pale brown gelding with a white blaze. He was much calmer under cannon fire and would come whenever Washington called him. On October 19, 1781 General George Washington rode Nelson into Yorktown to accept the surrender of General Cornwallis – even though paintings suggest it was his grey stallion, Blueskin. Because of his white coat, Blueskin is the horse most often portrayed in paintings. Blueskin was half Arabian, sired by Ranger; Ranger was also known as Lindsay’s Arabian and was said to have come from the Sultan of Morocco. After the Revolutionary War was over, both horses retired to Mount Vernon.
President Thomas Jefferson’s favorite riding horse was Caractacus. He was foaled on May 7, 1775, the offspring of AllyCroker (mare belonging to Jefferson) and Fearnought (stallion belonging to William Dandridge). In 1781 when Jefferson was the Governor of Virginia, the British army came close to capturing him but he managed to elude them with Caractacus’ help.
President Andrew Jackson’s favorite mount was a white horse named after one of America’s first celebrities, Sam Patch, famously known for jumping over Niagara Falls and to have survived. (click on the link above of Wiki info!)
President John Tyler was an excellent horseman and before he became president, Tyler would ride his favorite horse, The General, all over Charles City County, Virginia keeping his legal circuit appointments. The General was a faithful companion for twenty years and when he died, Tyler had him buried on the property of his Sherwood Forest Plantation. He wrote the epitaph, “Here lies the body of my good horse, “The General”. For Twenty years he bore me around the circuit of my practice, and in all that time he never made a blunder. Would that his master could say the same!”
Before he became president, Zachary Taylor rode a shaggy white horse called Old Whitey into many battles during the Mexican-American War. Old Whitey was not bothered by anything on the battlefield – he ignored the screams of men and the booming cannons and guns. After seeing Taylor through many victories on the battlefield, he was able to retire when President Taylor moved into the WH. Old Whitey grazed on the WH lawn and visitors would take a piece of his tail hair with them for good luck. Poor Whitey’s luxurious tail was eventually plucked into a limp mop. When Taylor died, Old Whitey had the honor of being the Riderless horse in the funeral procession.
In his pre-presidential years Abraham Lincoln rode his faithful horse, a sorrel named Robin, or ‘Old Bob’ on his circuit as a lawyer. When President Lincoln moved to the WH he left Old Bob to retire in Springfield. Later after Lincoln’s assassination, Old Bob was brought to Washington and walked in the funeral procession.
General Ulysses S. Grant’s war mount was a black horse named Jeff Davis. He was so spirited that he was almost unmanageable. After the war and while in the WH Jeff Davis remained one of Grant’s favorite horses. (And yes, mom does find it curious that Grant’s favorite horse – his battle horse – had the same name as the Confederate States’ President Jefferson Davis. Hmmm)