Sergeant York gained worldwide attention in 2004 when he was selected to be the Riderless Horse at the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan. He performed that role in thousands of Armed Forces Full Honors Funerals and other official ceremonies. He and Black Jack, the Riderless Horse at the funeral of former President John F. Kennedy in 1963, are the two most famous and beloved Caisson Horses of all time.
Sergeant York was born on April 25, 1991 and is a registered Standardbred who once raced under the name of “Allaboard Jules.” In 1997, thanks to horsewoman Marie Dobrisky and her son Frank, who was a member of the Caisson Platoon at that time, the striking black gelding was donated to the U.S. Army to be trained for military service. He was renamed “Sergeant York” in honor of Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated soldiers in World War I and whose life was immortalized in the award-winning 1941 film of the same name.
Sergeant York’s unflappable personality, beauty, and demeanor were so impressive that the decision was soon made to train him as a Riderless Horse to perform at funerals honoring U.S. Presidents, high-ranking military officers, and soldiers killed in combat. Abraham Lincoln was the first president to be honored with a Riderless Horse in his funeral procession.
Sergeant York’s illustrious career spanned 25 years during which time he inspired and captured the imaginations of fans and admirers across the globe, as well as the appreciation of those military members who were fortunate enough to know and work with him.
We at Equine Advocates are thrilled to provide Sergeant York a permanent retirement home, which began on June 15, 2022 when he arrived here at the sanctuary following a short stay at Cornell University Hospital for Animals where he underwent a physical exam. This new stage in his life will be quieter than his former one serving with the Caisson Platoon, but he will still have an important role to play in his retirement. He will help to educate the public about the lives of Military Working Horses and the historic part he played as one of the most well-known and adored Riderless Horses to serve in the U.S. Military. He will be visited by new and old admirers, as well as by current military members and veterans who had the pleasure to know and work with him during his quarter century of service. We are honored to have Sergeant York as a permanent resident at our sanctuary.
Sergeant York is proudly sponsored in full by a supporter from Wynantskill, New York.
Photo credit: Melissa Murray