A 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.
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.
Much of my info came from these website you may want to visit:
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yeah its not to be forgotten
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.
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.
… Black Jack was a Standardbred.
According to Wikipedia, Black Jack was a Morgan/Quarter Horse cross, not a Standardbred.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a similar ceremony for those who chose a military funeral.