SEMPER FEDELIS, SERGEANT RECKLESS

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Yesterday in London, a special ceremony to honour Reckless was held today at the Korean War Memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens, London.  PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin was joined by a current-serving King’s Troop horse, Haldalgo, who wore Reckless’ PDSA Dickin Medal.

Hadalgo as Reckless

The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943. Maria Dickin was the founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals(PDSA), a British veterinary charity. She established the award for any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with British Empire armed forces or civil emergency services.

Sgt. Reckless, the 68th recipient, was nominated for the prestigious award by author Robin Hutton, supported by the US Marine Corps. Robin spent six years researching the chestnut Mongolian mare’s illustrious career with the US Marines and penned her biography.

 

Robin’s story can be found here:  https://www.pdsa.org.uk/press-office/latest-news/2016/07/25/sergeant-reckless  Additionally, she has her own website, http://www.sgtreckless.com

 

Her Wikipedia entry gives a glimpse into her life serving as a Marine, and not just a horse…

 

“Staff Sergeant Reckless, a decorated war horse who held official rank in the United States military, was a mare of Mongolian horse breeding. Out of a race horse dam, she was purchased in October 1952 for $250 from a Korean stable boy at the Seoul racetrack who needed money to buy an artificial leg for his sister. Reckless was bought by members of the United States Marine Corps and trained to be a pack horse for the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company,5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.  She quickly became part of the unit and was allowed to roam freely through camp, entering the Marines’ tents, where she would sleep on cold nights, and was known for her willingness to eat nearly anything, including scrambled eggs, beer, Coca-Cola and, once, about $30 worth of poker chips.

 

She served in numerous combat actions during the Korean War, carrying supplies and ammunition, and was also used to evacuate wounded. Learning each supply route after only a couple of trips, she often traveled to deliver supplies to the troops on her own, without benefit of a handler. The highlight of her nine-month military career came in late March 1953 during the Battle for Outpost Vegas when, in a single day, she made 51 solo trips to resupply multiple front line units. She was wounded in combat twice, given the battlefield rank of corporal in 1953, and then a battlefield promotion to sergeant in 1954, several months after the war ended. She also became the first horse in the Marine Corps known to have participated in an amphibious landing, and following the war was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, was included in her unit’s Presidential Unit Citations from two countries, as well as other military honors.

 

Her wartime service record was featured in The Saturday Evening Post, and LIFE magazine recognized her as one of America’s 100 all-time heroes. She was retired and brought to the United States after the war, where she made appearances on television and participated in the United States Marine Corps birthday ball. She was officially promoted to staff sergeant in 1959 by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  She gave birth to four foals in America and died in May 1968. A plaque and photo were dedicated in her honor at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton stables and a statue of her was dedicated on July 26, 2013 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.”

Sgt reckless with a fellow Marine Reckless-Alt-View-300x176

 

Rest in Peace, Sgt. Reckless, and thank you for your service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE HORSES OF 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE

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You can’t turn on a television, or read a news story without seeing elephants and donkeys everywhere.  It’s funny how that’s both literal and figurative…  But, one animal has been visibly absent from the political scene, and The White House grounds for quite a while, horses.  In an effort to avoid the dramatic, and frequent blasts of those currently vying to make 1600 their new place of residence, I decided to look back a bit.

 

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In 1871 Ulysses S. Grant ordered a stable to be built at The White House.  Horses were the transportation of the time, and The White House employed a number of them for the residents and staff’s use.  The stable was expanded in 1891 to house up to 25 horses, and include a carriage house, tack and harness room, and living area for the stable staff and coachmen.  This replaced the stable where Abraham Lincoln had housed his family’s horses, which burned to the ground February 10, 1864.  When the fire was discovered, President Lincoln had to be restrained by soldiers from rushing into the inferno to save his boys’ beloved ponies, but to no avail.

 

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Above, Lincoln’s horse, “Bob,” and Roosevelt’s stable staff with his favored saddle horse, “Algonquin.”

 

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In 1909, given the advancements in the area of transportation, William Howard Taft ordered the stable be converted into a garage for his steam-engine cars.  The stable was eventually demolished in 1911, though horses were still made available for White House use for years after.  Despite Taft’s efforts to modernize the address, horses remained popular “pets” to it’s residents in the years after.

 

KN-22365 22 June 1962 West Wing Colonnade President Kennedy visits with his children, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, and pony Macaroni. Please credit "Robert Knudsen, White House / John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library"

“Macaroni” Kennedy was often seen and photographed on The White House lawn and steps, spending time with his family.  Being an East coast family, riding was almost a required skill.

 

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President Ronald Reagan was known for his cowboy rolls in film, but was quite the horseman in reality as well.  As a former Cavalry rider, he was so advanced, the Secret Service often struggled to find suitable agents with the ability to keep up, when he would sneak out for rides.

 

Horses have a way of keeping you grounded, and giving you flight, all at once.  Perhaps if more of our political leaders were riders today, our country would be more focused on sense, than dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOME TO THE ARENA

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Still being fairly new to the writing world, and always wanting to express appreciation to those who’ve given a leg up, I like to reciprocate whenever possible.  Some entries ago, we met Sparky, the Budweiser Clydesdale, and his handler Kat.  We’ve stayed in touch since our interview and meeting, and now I’m happy to help promote Kat’s latest venture, The Hoof Print Journal!

 

Their magazine is based in Illinois and Missouri, but the content applies to a wide audience.  Over 5,000 are printed and distributed (FREE to area equine businesses) with each issue, as well as being available online.  They cater to all breeds and disciplines, with their base in advertising.

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Help me welcome Kat and her team to the written, riding world.  Grab a copy today or check it out online at http://www.hoofprintjournal.com

 

 

BY INVITATION ONLY

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It’s not your traditional black tie event, but every bit as formal.  AQHA exhibitors all over the country are receiving coveted invitations to the annual AQHA World Show, and their reactions are priceless.  The road to the World Show however, is paved with personal checks.

 

Unlike the AQHA’s other big annual event, the All American Quarter Horse Congress, where you need only enter (all standard) classes, the World Show takes a year of hauling, showing, and paying your dues.  By July 31st of the show year, each rider/horse team must have accumulated the required number of points within their respective division(s).

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The AQHA Journal says this about it’s big event, “the qualifying period began August 1, 2015, and ends July 31, 2016. The Lucas Oil World returns to Oklahoma City November 3-19, 2016.

The show is the premier event in the equine industry. This is the pinnacle event for open and amateur competitors around the world who must qualify for the event by earning a predetermined number of points to secure a spot in each of the classes, representing English, western and halter disciplines. The Lucas Oil World brings together exhibitors, owners, breeders and fans of the American Quarter Horse from around the world for two weeks of exciting competition, educational opportunities and a bountiful trade show.”  More information about the show can be found at http://www.aqha.com/worldshow.

 

When Amateur competitor, Laura Salome (and trusty steed, “Woo-Hoo,” also known as “Horton”) received her invitation, she was ecstatic.  They’ve become a well-known team among the Ohio circuits, but presenting at this show is a real trump card.

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“It’s a honor and I feel so blessed to be able to be successful at what I would say is my true love. It also is intimidating, and the thought of “trotting down that chute” is terrifying.  I have a big decision to make because it entails 4 days on the road(2 days each out and back) in scorching late August Texas heat…ton of stress on my big guy. For what? The chance at a ribbon… Not sure it’s worth it, but I still have a few weeks to decide.”

 

Isn’t that always the internal argument though, do I go to all the effort, do I drive hours, do I write that check?  The answer almost always seems to be “yes.”  Maybe the ends doesn’t exactly justify the means in a literal sense, but on a human level, to have achieved such accomplishments on top of a 1,000+ lb. animal…  call me a sucker, but that m’friends, that’s the magic that keeps us going.