Presidents Throughout History and Their Connections to Horses

Some say that there’s an extra qualification to be President of the United States, and thats to know how to ride a horse. Many presidents in US history have been avid horse people. Here’s a list of presidents and their connections to horses.

Since the very first president of the United States took office, there has been strong ties to horses. In earlier times, horses were the primary means of transportation. As the years passed, other presidents had ponies living at the White House and some even dabbled in horse racing. Due to how many presidents had ties with horses, some say that a fourth qualification for president is that you have to know how to ride a horse.

George Washington, the first president of the United States, was said to be an avid horseman who kept his stable in pristine condition. His horses were all well-rounded animals as they provided his transportation, pulled carriages, worked the fields and were used for recreation as George Washington enjoyed fox hunting.

President George Washington. Photo courtesy of Horse Network.

John Adams was also a great horseman. He once stated that George Washington attempted to sell him a horse that was misrepresented and was not as great as Washington made it out to be.

Thomas Jefferson once made it known that wanted to die on horseback. He almost got that wish as he continued to ride daily until a few weeks before he died at the age of 83.

President Andrew Jackson was a huge horse enthusiast. He bred horses at his home near Nashville, Tennessee and kept his racehorses with him at the White House. He overfilled the White House stables so much that he ended up building shanties to house them all. Eventually he persuaded congress to fund the construction of another barn 100 yards east of the White House.

President Andrew Jackson. Photo courtesy of Horse Network.

When William Henry Harrison finished his military career, and before he dove into politics, he established a successful horse breeding operation.

John Tyler’s favorite horse was one named “The General.” John Tyler owned this horse for his entire 21-year life. On The General’s tombstone it reads, “Here lies the body of my good horse, ‘The General’. For 20 years he bore me around the circuit of my practice, and in all that time he never made a blunder. Would that his master could say the same!”

Zachary Taylor had a horse named “Old Whitney” that he allowed to roam around and free graze the front lawn of the White House. It is said that people would pluck a hair or two from the horse’s mane as a parting gift.

President Zachary Taylor. Photo courtesy of Horse Network.

Franklin Pierce found himself in trouble once while on horseback. He was arrested for getting drunk and running over an elderly lady.

Abraham Lincoln was a Kentucky farm boy who held horses in high regards. While Lincoln was in office a fire broke out in the stables and staff had to restrain him so he would not go into the burning barn to save his son’s ponies.

Ulysses S. Grant was considered by many to be the best horseman to ever serve as a president. From an early age he had a soft touch and natural feel with the horses. He was a fearless rider who broke many fiery colts. One time, Grant was caught speeding while driving his coach through the streets of D.C. Grant was driving his favorite pair of horses and when the police officer requested he stop and arrested him.

President Ulysses S. Grant. Photo courtesy of Horse Network.

Rutherford B. Hayes served in the Civil War where he had two of his good horses shot out from under him during battle.

Grover Cleveland was praised for how clean he kept his horses. When he arrived to D.C. he brought five bay horses with him. All his horses sported long untrimmed tails and it made news when he ordered his horses tails to be trimmed.

William McKinley had a large black horse that went by the name of Frank. During McKinley’s presidency, Frank made his debut at many parades and public military displays.

Theodore Roosevelt had a rugged cowboy persona and did not neglect his cowboy ways while in office. The White House officials attempted to give Roosevelt an automobile and he declined stating that the Roosevelts were horse people. The president was so consumed by horses that he had rules for those who accompanied him trail riding.

President Theodore Roosevelt. Photo courtesy of Horse Network.

William H. Taft is said to have ruined the primacy of the horse at the White House. In 1909 he converted the carriage room into a garage for his automobiles. In 1911 the stables were removed and presidents could continue to keep horses but they had to stable at a nearby farm.

Calvin Coolidge enjoyed horseback riding for exercise. Once he traded a living horse for a mechanical horse that he put in the White House to practice riding the different gaits.

Dwight D. Eisenhower owned a horse named Doodle De Doo that was gifted to him by the American Quarter Horse Association. Eisenhower kept the horse at his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Dwight Eisenhower and his AQHA horse, Doodle De Doo. Photo Courtesy of Our Presidents.

Lyndon B. Johnson had a Tennessee Walker named Lady B. Johnson was a Texan who grew up cutting cattle on the ranch.

Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady B. Photo by Getty Images.

Gerald Ford was a huge Kentucky Derby fan. Ford attended more horse racing events than any other president.

Ronald Reagan became one of Hollywood’s most sought after cowboys. Even while serving his presidency, he always made time for equine therapy. This became a problem for Secret Service personnel as they were having a hard time hiring someone that could keep up with him on horseback.

Ronald Reagan. Photo by Reagan Library.

Donald Trump once dabbled in horse racing when he bought a horse named D. J. Trump. The horse never made it to the racetrack and Trump tried to trade the horse to his lawyer to pay off legal fees.