The Greatest Horse Story Ever Told

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  2. March 24, 2014 5:02 am

The Greatest Horse Story Ever Told

From the pages of history he emerges, a horse so grand he must be borne of myth alone. Instead, he has influenced storytellers down throughout the ages and continues to inspire horse lovers to this day. His name was Bucephalus, and only one man could ride him: Alexander the Great.

He was black as night with a white star on his forehead. They said he was descended from the noble steeds that grazed the rich fields of Thessaly, though no one is quite sure of his exact breeding. He most likely resembled a breed of horse called the Barb, which is famous in its own right for being a foundational strain in the creation of the modern Thoroughbred.

King Phillip II brought Bucephalus to his kingdom in Macedonia, as both he and his court horseman could see the colt’s quality. However, Bucephalus had not been handled well, and no one could stay on his back for any length of time. It was a pity, King Phillip knew, to not bring such a fine horse into the royal stable, but the King needed horses that his cavalry could ride into battle. He even said aloud that it was a shame no one could ride such a horse.

It was then the King’s son, Alexander, spoke up. “I can ride that horse,” he told his father. It was an audacious thing to say to a King, even if the King was your father.

“If you can ride that horse, son, you can have that horse,” was King Phillip’s reply.

Thus began what some would say was the greatest horse and rider pairing in the history of the world.

Alexander the Great rode Bucephalus into countless battles. He even named a city after his steed, Bucephala. Bucephalus has been depicted in art, such as in the Battle of Issus, statues in cities such as Rome, on ancient coins and in literature written by such diverse talents as Edgar Allen Poe, Franz Kafka and Walter Farley.

Some say Bucephalus died of old age, while others say he died of battle wounds received in the Battle of the Hydaspes River. No matter how he died, there is no doubt he lives on today in the heart’s and mind’s of both horse and history lovers around the world.


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