Honourable Horses of History

When it comes to famous horses, most people will name Seabiscuit, Red Rum, Desert Orchid and other iconic race horses. There have been countless noble horses, who throughout history have given their lives serving human leaders. Their valiant tales have been forgotten over time but here, we pay tribute to those incredible steeds who helped to change the course of history:

  1. Comanche

In 1868, the United States Army Cavalry purchased a mustang who was given the name Comanche after being injured in a battle against the Native Americans. As he was hit by an arrow, the horse let out a scream not unlike those of the Comanche Indians. After the defeat of Custer at Little Bighorn in 1876, Comanche was found badly wounded and took a year to recover. He enjoyed a celebrity retirement, being the horse of honour at various parades and ceremonies. In death, Comanche was stuffed and can be seen on display at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History.

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  1. Copenhagen

This was one fiery steed that the Duke of Wellington rode during Waterloo. On his return from the battle, Wellington attempted to give the horse a pat on the rump and Copenhagen tried to kick him in the head! Had the kick connected, that would have been very bad news for Wellington after being brought back to safety, only to be done in by his horse. It could have been the stresses of war for Copenhagen mellowed significantly in his old age. After he died, one of his hooves was turned into an inkstand and his head was cast in bronze and placed in Wellington College. For modern day Bronze Horse Sculptures, visit the website of Gill Parker.

  1. Pinto

Pinto is the only horse in history to have walked the entire length of the continental United States and makes the longest documented journey of the 20th century. The reason it happened was that in 1912, five men, calling themselves the Overland Westerners, decided to visit every state capital in the U.S. on horseback. Their aim was to finish at the 1915 World Fair and become instantly famous. It was an arduous, lengthy trek and most of the time they were broke, cold and hungry. On reaching the fair, sadly they couldn’t convince anyone to write their story. Pinto lasted the whole three-year journey – what a horse!

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  1. Beautiful Jim Key

This horse was trained by ex-slave Dr William Key. He became famous due to Dr Key’s incredible training, teaching the horse to recognise letters from the alphabet, remove coins from a vase with just his tongue and nod his answer to different questions. Jim could even recognise excerpts from the Bible that included horses and make the correct change from a cash register. Dr Key never used harsh training techniques and refused to use a whip, treating Jim with kindness and becoming a role model for the better treatment of animals. They performed many shows, including one for President McKinley. A film is due soon about the wonderful pair, starring Morgan Freeman.

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