The General, Horses, and Leadership

enhs1019majoreisenhower1935General and President Dwight David Eisenhower is one of the famous leaders in American military history.  He is known for his compassion and calm in the face of adversity.  Eisenhower was an infantry officer but made his reputation as an exceptional staff officer and planner.  Few people know that “Ike” was also an more than average horseman.  Eisenhower, like all officers of his generation, had to learn to ride as part of his professional requirements, but he had a more than average affinity for animals.  Eisenhower’s abilities as a horseman and his ability to relate to the animal is described in his memoir At Ease:  Stories I tell Friends.  In this very readable autobiography of his personal and professional life Ike describes his military mount “Blackie” who he rode during his two year assignment in Panama.  Eisenhower trained the horse in what today would be called basic dressage movements as well as “tricks” such as following him on command whenever he dismounted.  Eisenhower believed that working with animals could teach leadership skills important to army officers.  He stated in his memoir that “in teaching skills, in developing self-confidence, the same sort of patience and kindness is needed with horses as with people.”  Some biographers believe that the horse “Blackie” taught Eisenhower as much as the officer taught the horse.  One author goes so far to assert that the horse was instrumental to helping Eisenhower to get over the death of his son the previous year and may have saved his marriage.  It is certain the horse “Blackie” was an exceptional part of Eisenhower’s life.  In his memoirs he writes about “Blackie” over six pages –more pages than he devotes to any single human, including all the heads of states and famous generals, he met in his long career.

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 4:03 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting post Lou. I bumped up this old TMH topic that’s related:

  2. Nicely done, Lou.


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