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Black Jack: Americas famous riderless horse

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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:34 AM
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Black Jack: Americas famous riderless horse
I was in 6th grade that awful Friday when JFK was assassinated. Like many Americans one of my most vivid memories was the beautiful prancing black but somewhat fractious riderless horse Black Jack.

Black Jack was an image and a name I would never forget about that terrible weekend. I checked out Amazon and was pleased to find this book available. I ordered and received it today. It's a wonderful book full not only about the story of Black Jack but also the history of the Old Guard, the caisson unit, the soldiers and horses of that unit especially the handlers of Black Jack, Arlington National Cemetery and of course the funeral of JFK.

Black Jack was a horse that was never quite tamed. He hated to be ridden, failed as a caisson horse, failed as the caisson platoon leader horse and so the only job left was as the riderless (caparisoned) horse. He was generally hard to handle during the funerals so much so the platoon leader apologized to the family of the fallen at his first funeral, but his prancing and fiery spirit they had found endearing as subsequent families including Jackie Kennedy found him to be.

He served from 1952 to the early seventies. He was also the riderless horse for the funerals of Herbert Hoover, General MacArthur, and LBJ along with a thousand lesser known funerals. But he also had a gentle side and a love of butter pecan cake that a woman named Nancy Schado brought to him faithfully including celebrating his birthday every year in the latter stages of his life - guess you could call her his groupie.

Black Jack: Americas famous riderless horse by Robert Knuckle

About the Author
Black Jack was an attractive colt foaled on a Kansas breeding farm. From birth he seemed destined for greatness because he shared the same birth date as legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. He was named after General of the Armies John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. Purchased by the U.S. Army, Black Jack was broken and trained at their remount station at Fort Reno, Oklahoma. Although fiery and difficult to manage, he was so sleek and beautiful the army sent him to the caisson platoon at Fort Myer, Virginia. Because of Black Jack`s spirited temperament, the army was reluctant to use him in the military funerals at nearby Arlington National Cemetery. But once they tried him, Black Jack`s grace and vitality soon made him a favorite as the riderless horse that follows the caisson to the grave. Over a long and productive life, Black Jack served with distinction in more than 1,000 burials at the cemetery and marched in the funerals of presidents John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as that of General Douglas MacArthur. This book tells Black Jack`s success story. It is an endearing tale of an unruly but handsome cavalry mount that walked his way to fame and became the most illustrious horse in the history of the U.S. Army.





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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:41 AM
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1. Wasn't Jackie's father also called "Black Jack" Bouvier?
Maybe that was one factor that led to her choice. She did know horses, though.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:51 AM
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2. You're right - but actually the Old Guard unit chose the horses
Edited on Thu Nov-29-07 12:56 AM by RamboLiberal
Jackie after the funeral was so impressed with Black Jack that she offered to buy him after his service was over. The Army remembered that and did offer him to her. She replied that she thought he'd be happier retired at Fort Meade.

Here's a bit of trivia. The white horses pulling the caisson were Cloud Burst and Tap (wheel), Rocket and Prince (swing), Blue and Blue Dare (lead), Big Boy(section-platoon leader rides at left side).

Arthur Andrew Carlson was Black Jack's walker for the funeral. Black Jack got spooked when the caisson got stuck in a grate at the treasury building and dragged it. He remained spooked for the whole weekend. Carlson couldn't talk to him but wishes he had been able to try to calm Black Jack. He feared all weekend that Black Jack would break loose from him and bolt. At the church the day of the funeral Black Jack stepped on Carlson's foot. Carlson thought his toe was broken but he still had to walk all the way to Arlington w/o favoring his injured foot.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 01:06 AM
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3. I was in Europe at the time, but saw coverage of the event on tee vee
(not quite contemporaneous). My cousin was in that funeral, we can pick him out for a few moments in some of the footage.

I didn't see the full American coverage until I came to America and they spent the day showing all of the nonstop coverage on an anniversary date.
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