History

Pat the Horse: Beloved Cavalry Horse has His Own Hill Country Memorial

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Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army Base located in San Antonio and home to numerous historic oddities, including the memorial of beloved cavalry horse, Pat. The resting place of this revered thoroughbred features four embedded horseshoes and an etching in his likeness. Pat’s gravesite is also a window into an important time in military history.

The U.S. Army began mechanizing the cavalry around World War I when it became obvious that there was potential to do so. Horses and mules were still used in the cavalry during this time until the rising technology surpassed them in usefulness. In the 1930s, the Army began disposing of cavalry horses by either selling them or destroying them. In December of 1932, a final mounted parade was held in Fort D.A. Russell, TX. When the soldiers dismounted, they saluted their four-legged companions in farewell.

Pat the Horse: Beloved Cavalry Horse has His Own Hill Country Memorial

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However, not all soldiers were willing to say goodbye without a fight. Pat was famous for his sweet disposition and a favorite among soldiers. A lieutenant with a soft spot for Pat requested that he be retired to pasture and allowed to die a natural death. The request was granted, and Pat became a permanent and honored resident of Fort Sam Houston. He appeared in numerous ceremonies for the remainder of his years. He even had his own 12th Field Artillery blanket, highlighting his service to the U. S. Army.

Pat’s last appearance in public was on May 20, 1951, on Armed Forces Day. On March 2, 1953, Pat died of heart failure, despite the best efforts of his caretakers. He was 45 years old at his time of death. For his service in the U.S. Army, Pat was honored with a military funeral, complete with taps. His plot is located near the equestrian center in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.