3 Famous Horses from History

Famous horses include Adios who won 43 races, Comanche who ran in battle after being shot by an arrow and Blackjack the horse in the JFK funeral.

From Silver to Mister Ed, popular culture has been filled with some interesting depictions of the majestic horse. However, there are many real life horses over the years that have performed amazing feats that significantly affected the course of history. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous horses from history.

Blackjack performed as a riderless horse in over 1,000 military funerals. Here he is at JFK's funeral.
Blackjack performed as a riderless horse in over 1,000 military funerals. Here he is at JFK’s funeral.

1. Adios

Born on January 3, 1940 at Two Gaits Farm in Indiana, Adios remains one of the most successful harness horses in the history of the sport. He won 43 races and finished first, second, or third in 83 of 87 professional races. He set track and world records throughout his career.

Aside from his amazing performance as a harness racehorse, Adios is best known for completely changing the Standardbred breed. As a stud, Adios went on to sire 597 foals in his life. Each of his offspring, most notably Adios Butler and Bret Hanover, went on to perform at top levels and sire their own foals. Perhaps if you see a Florida horse for sale or another horse on a website, the horse maybe somehow related to Adios somewhere down the line.

Adios’s claim to fame is so great that in 1967, two years after the horse’s death, a race was named in his honor and is held annually each August at The Meadows in Pennsylvania.

2. Comanche

With an uncertain ancestry and date of birth, Comanche was acquired by the Army in 1868 and was soon purchased by Captain Myles Keogh for his personal mount. The horse gained his name during a battle with the Comanche tribe, during which time the horse was shot by an arrow in the hindquarters but continued to run and carry Keogh.

Comanche’s greatest claim to history came in 1876 during the bloody two-day fight at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Alternately known as Custer’s Last Stand, the battle was led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer in what turned into an immense defeat as Custer’s forces were utterly outnumbered by the joint forces of Arapaho, Lakota, and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Custer’s entire force was wiped out with the exception of Comanche. As the lone survivor, Comanche was nursed back to health and retired. After death, the horse was so revered that 7th Cavalry officers wanted his remains preserved. Comanche is currently exhibited at the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas.

3. Black Jack

Black Jack was born on January 19, 1947. On November 22, 1953, he entered the Third U.S. Infantry Stables at Fort Myer and became the last Quartermaster-issued horse in the U.S. Army. With a long, respectable military career, Black Jack served as the riderless horse in over 1,000 Armed Forces Full Honors Funerals as well as several state funerals, including that of J.F.K. After his death on February 6, 1976, Black Jack became only one of two horses in American history to be buried with full military honors.

Horses have played an amazing role in human history. Who knows what the future holds for our equine companions?


Blackjack image by Wikimedia Commons

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