For the past 10 years, World War II Veteran Kenneth Aran has participated in the Santa Fe Veteran’s Day Parade. He missed this year’s parade as he passed away October 31st at the age of 93. During WWII, he was part of Patton's Third Army, the 11th Armored Division. Ken was famous for great storytelling and was a good friend and neighbor to horsewoman Cindy Roper.
In Ken’s honor, Cindy led her horse, Nova, in the Veteran’s Day Parade this year with Nova serving as the Caparisoned Horse (Riderless Horse) in his honor. Traditionally, the man’s riding boots are reversed in the stirrups to represent a fallen leader looking back on his troops for the last time. The caparisoned horse originated from military honors but can be found in other horsemen’s memorial plans.
The riderless horse may date back as far as Genghis Kahn, when a horse was sacrificed to serve the fallen warrior in the next world. Later, the riderless horse came to symbolize a warrior who would ride no more. In the US, Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury from 1789-1795, was the first American to be given the honor. Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States to be officially honored by the inclusion of the caparisoned horse in his funeral. There are several horses made famous by serving as Riderless Horse in US History.
Old Bob: In 1865, Abraham Lincoln was honored by the inclusion of a caparisoned horse at his funeral. When Lincoln's funeral train reached Springfield, his horse, Old Bob, draped in a black mourning blanket, followed the procession and led mourners to Lincoln's grave.
Black Jack: A notable riderless horse was "Black Jack," a half-Morgan named for John "Black Jack" Pershing. Black Jack took part in the state funerals of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Black Jack was foaled January 19, 1947, and came to Fort Myer from Oklahoma on November 22, 1952. Black Jack was the last of the Quartermaster-issue horses branded with the Army's U.S. brand (on the left shoulder) and his Army serial number 2V56 (on the left side of his neck). He died on February 6, 1976, and was buried on the parade grounds of Fort Myer's Summerall Field with full military honors, one of only two US Army horses to be given that honor.
Sergeant York: Was a racing standardbred and descendant of Tar Heels, registered under the name Allaboard Jules. He was renamed (in honor of famous WWI soldier Alvin C. York) when he was accepted into the military in 1997. He served as the riderless horse in President Ronald Reagan's funeral procession, carrying President Reagan’s boots and walking behind the caisson bearing Reagan's flag-draped casket.