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President John F. Kennedy with John Jr., Caroline and "Macaroni". (Robert Knudsen, White House / John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library)
President John F. Kennedy with John Jr., Caroline and "Macaroni". (Robert Knudsen, White House / John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library)

by John Wilkinson

There are but three Constitutional requirements to become President of these United States: must be a natural born citizen, must have lived in the country for no fewer than 14 years, and must be at least 35 years old. But if history is any indication, you could almost add another: must be able to ride a horse.

Horses are as much a symbol of America as the bald eagle and all-you-can-eat-buffet. Considering more than half the US Presidents relied on horses for everyday conveyance, it’s not surprising to see so many famous photos and paintings featuring the Executive Equine. Getting photographed on a horse is as critical a component to Commander-in-Chief optics as kissing babies and pretending to care about people. After all, if you don’t have command in the saddle, how can we expect you to help command the entire free world?

President_Taft_riding_in_1909
President_Taft_riding_in_1909

Horse stables were a fixture at the White House up until 1911, when William Howard Taft ordered their demolition to make room for a four car garage. Typical Taft. I mean, look at that galoot:

The White House Historical Association has an entire site devoted to the equestrian history of the Presidents, but only Horse Network dared to rank the USA’s top 10 most equine savvy Presidents in history.

*All images courtesy of the Library of Congress unless otherwise noted.


Johnson showing off his skill on Lady B, a Tennessee Walking Horse. (Getty Images)
Johnson showing off his skill on Lady B, a Tennessee Walking Horse. (Getty Images)

10. Lyndon B. Johnson

One of only two modern Presidents on the list, LBJ was no stranger to the saddle. The Texan grew up cutting cattle on the ranch, a hobby he picked back up in retirement. With his southern drawl, cowboy boots and bolo tie, LBJ always seemed better suited to life on the ranch than life in Washington.

 


Old Bob and Reverend Henry Brown
Old Bob and Reverend Henry Brown

9. Abraham Lincoln

This Kentucky farm boy was certainly a capable horseman and held them in high regard. When a fire broke out in the White House stables, as the story goes, Ol’ Abe had to be physically restrained by staff after attempting to run into the inferno to save his son’s ponies. His most well-known horse was Old Bob, who famously caparisoned the fallen President at his funeral.



Read the article as it originally appeared in it's entirety on The Horse Network. This excerpt is published here with permission.

Find more interesting stories in our section on Recreation & Lifestyle.

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