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Pat the Long-Lived Horse

Written by Ann Gallaway.

Pat the horse served for 26 years with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. After “enlisting” in 1912 at age four, Pat served as a cannon-pulling horse. During the first half of this century, horses (and mules) pulled guns, as well as wagons loaded with ammunition. Pulling teams consisted of three pairs of animals, each pair performing a different function. Though no one now remembers Pat’s position in the team, they do recall his disposition: Pat displayed a benevolent temperament.

Pat proved lucky. He never served overseas (to prevent the spread of disease, animals serving on foreign soil typically were not allowed to return home), and, because of his good nature, he was honored as a representative of hardworking military animals and allowed to officially retire—thus escaping other Army horses’ fate at the glue factory.

After retiring, Pat lived at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, serving in military funeral processions and as a rare example for veterinary students of what a very old horse looks like. When he died, he was buried in a special plot on Fort Sam’s grounds.

Pat gained a modicum of renown when he appeared in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! as the longest-living horse. When he died on Texas Independence Day in 1953, Pat was 45 years old.

From the September 1999 issue.

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