Camp Nelson National Cemetery Says Goodbye to Its Riderless Horse

5
643

When active-duty
personnel and veterans are buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in
Kentucky, the Camp Nelson Honor Guard gives them a fitting send-off.
The volunteer group, which is funded through donations, provides a
single horse-drawn caisson and a riderless horse to honor members of
the military.

Kosmios was one of
the horses who served as the riderless horse in funerals at Camp
Nelson. The striking gray Arabian gelding participated in 180
funerals since 2012. In caisson funerals, the riderless
horse—formally known as the caparisoned horse—is saddled with
empty boots placed backwards in the stirrups to symbolize the fallen
soldier and is led behind the caisson. The caisson is a horse-drawn
hearse. While not every member of the military receives a full
caisson funeral, many Americans will recognize the elements of the
ceremony from President John F. Kennedy’s funeral at Arlington
National Cemetery in 1963.

Kosmios had an
important role that went beyond just carrying the symbolic saddle and
boots.

“He was
well-mannered,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Woody Friend, who
often led the horse in funerals and whose daughter, Clara, owned
Kosmios. “Little kids at funerals would come over to him, and he’d
put his head down so they could pet him on the nose.”

Kosmios was
euthanized earlier this month at age 17 after sustaining a broken
leg, possibly caused by a kick from another horse.

Tracy Lucas,
commander of the CNHG, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he was
inquiring about the possibility of holding a memorial service for
Kosmios at Camp Nelson. Honoring an animal at the cemetery is not
unprecedented; a bomb-sniffing dog named Ireland who served two tours
in Iraq before retiring to Kentucky with her handler was given a
hero’s salute at Camp Nelson after her death earlier this fall.

For now, Kosmios
will be succeeded in his role by another gray Arabian, Elite
Treasure, who has filled in as the riderless horse in the past. Two
Standardbreds, Lincoln and Freedom Hall, are also employed by the
Honor Guard to pull the caisson. Freedom Hall has also served as the
riderless horse.

Caisson horses were
in the news earlier this year when Arlington National Cemetery
announced that it was seeking retirement homes for two of its horses.
Kennedy, a former riderless horse, found an adoptive home on an
85-acre Texas ranch owned by Carroll Urzendowski, a former platoon
sergeant with the Caisson unit. Quincy, a Quarter Horse, was adopted
by a couple in Boston who are experienced horse owners equipped to
manage his navicular disease and keep him comfortable through his
golden years.


Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. RIP  Kosmios, you are in Heaven,   
    Kosmios was one of the horses who served as the riderless horse in funerals at Camp Nelson. The striking gray Arabian gelding participated in 180 funerals since 2012. In caisson funerals, the riderless horse—formally known as the caparisoned horse—is saddled with empty boots placed backwards in the stirrups to symbolize the fallen soldier and is led behind the caisson.
    THANK

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here