While dogs may be considered "man's best friend," the horse and the myriad of legends surrounding it have held a special place in the hearts of humans throughout the centuries. Whether used in battle, in competition, or simply for transportation, horses have often found themselves intertwined in our history—a symbol of grace, strength, and triumph—which are the kinds of qualities we aspire to have. When a celebrity or an important figure creates a special bond with a horse, it often carves out its own indelible reputation.
To celebrate this weekend's Kentucky Derby, here are five people whose celebrity have made their horses famous in their own right:
Horse of Queen Elizabeth II
In 1969, The Canadian Mounted Police presented Queen Elizabeth II with Burmese, a black mare. The Queen immediately considered Burmese her favorite horse and rode her for the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony for almost 20 years. Burmese died in 1990. After her last Trooping the Colour parade in 1986, the Queen began riding in a carriage for the ceremony instead of mounting a new charger. For the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the Goverment of Saskatchewan commissioned a statue of the Queen riding Burmese, which was unveiled in 2005.
Trigger and Buttermilk
Horses of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
Legendary cowboy and singer Roy Rogers was offered his choice of five different horses to rent for his first movie. He rented and eventually bought a golden palomino and named him Trigger. The horse knew many tricks and made many appearances with Rogers. Roger's wife, Dale Evans, appeared on The Roy Rogers Show with him and rode on her buckskin horse, Buttermilk. Both horses were extremely popular and had many collectables created in their likeness. Trigger and Buttermilk died in 1965 and 1972, respectively, with their hides stretched over plaster to preserve their memory.
Horse used by Paul Revere
Though there's no record of Paul Revere owning a horse at the time of his "Midnight Ride," he borrowed a horse from John Larkin for his ride into Lexington on April 18, 1775. Revere only referred to the horse as "a very good horse," however documents from the Larkin family lead historians to believe that the horse's name is Brown Beauty. After arriving in Lexington, Revere continued toward Concord where he was eventually captured by the British. He was soon released, but Brown Beauty was taken under the control of the British. Though he never belonged to Paul Revere, Brown Beauty is cemented in history as part of Revere's legend.
Horse of Jesse James
Jesse James is one of the most notorious criminals of the American West. He robbed many banks and trains and relied on speed to commit his crimes. Often traveling on horseback, he trained his horses to help him with his fast getaways. He briefly retired from his life of crime but continued to raise his prize horses. He turned to horse racing and focused on training his thoroughbred mare, Red Fox, an unbeatable horse that could outrun anyone. He cared greatly for the horse and pampered Red Fox by feeding him a strict and proper diet.
Horse of Caligula
Roman emperor Caligula's rumored decadent lifestyle has made him an infamous figure in history. Though his paranoia caused him to have strained relations with some of family members, his favorite horse Incitatus never fell out of his favor. Eighteen servants were assigned to tend to Incitatus in his stable of marble, where he was fed golden oats, meat, and wine. Caligula often dined with the horse, and many sources claim that he intended to appoint Incitatus as a consul. After Incitatus' death, Caligula was grief stricken and assassinated within the next year.
Film Actor, Television Actor, Guitarist, Singer, Television Personality / 1911 - 1998
Roy Rogers was an American actor and singer best known as the “King of the Cowboys” for his heroic roles in musical westerns. His sidekick palomino, Trigger, and dog, Bullet often appeared with him.
Film Actress, Television Actress, Songwriter, Singer, Television Personality / 1912 - 2001
Dale Evans was the longtime screen partner and wife of singing cowboy Roy Rogers. She wrote several hit songs, including "Happy Trails to You."
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