The Riderless horse
I have always been fascinated by the funerary practice of the riderless horse, sometimes called a caparisoned horse in reference to the ornamental coverings which decorated a warrior’s mount in and around medieval times. The deceased’s horse accompanies the funeral procession, following closely behind the caisson or hearse. Boots are reversed in the stirrups, supposedly to symbolise their late owner taking one last look back.
It is really impossible to pinpoint exactly where and how this tradition started but something similar can be dated back as far as the times of Genghis Khan. Horses have always shared a special connection with people and so it is quite likely that they have played a role in funerary rituals for as long as they have been domesticated, since around 3000BC.
Some noteworthy individuals to have their horses present at their funerals include those pictured, The Duke of Wellington and Lord Mountbatten as well as all Britain’s past monarchs (Edward VII also had his Jack Russel Caesar in attendance), JFK and Churchill. I know not whether anyone still has a nag around when they’re chucked in the ground but I think I might like to.