The Riderless Horse Ceremony
Atlantic States Gay Rodeo AssociationJul 7, 2004
The Riderless Horse is a traditional ceremony that dates back to the days when armies relied on four-legged power rather than motorized transportation. Our ceremony honors the memory of men and women of rodeo.
There is a special bond between horse and rider. This relationship cannot be duplicated with mechanical equipment. Over the years, the horse and rider, learning each other's movements, body language, moods and clues, strengthen this bond. When that bond is broken, the horse must adjust to life without its familiar partner.
The most famous example of this ceremony was John F. Kennedy's funeral procession. The horse, Black Jack, was walked riderless behind the casket that carried the President's body. Reversed boots placed in the stirrups show that the rider has passed away. The ceremony is intended to honor all of those loved ones who are no longer with us.
The Riderless Horse is an honor usually reserved for someone who has worked for our community, in the fight against AIDS, or for the rodeo itself. They represent the fact that life goes on with new people taking up the fight for their fallen comrades.