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George Washington was known far and wide as the "best horseman of his age."
"The General Himself ... breaks all his own horses; and he is a very excellent and bold horseman, leaping the highest fences, and going extremely quick." –Marquis de Chastellux, in his journal, November 26, 1870.
George Washington relied on horses for fox-hunting, racing, touring his large plantation, and pulling his coach or riding chair. Two of his best-known horses were Nelson, who carried him through the Revolutionary War and later retired to Mount Vernon, and Magnolia, an Arabian stallion Washington raced in Alexandria. Washington broke and trained his own horses. His stables were under the supervision of Peter Hardiman, a slave, whose talent with horses and mules greatly impressed Washington.
Did you know that it was George Washington who introduced the mule to American agriculture? The mule is the result of cross-breeding a male donkey and a female horse. Mules are stronger and easier to care for than horses, and Washington was convinced they made better draft animals. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, he received an Andalusian donkey named "Royal Gift," as a present from the King of Spain. "Royal Gift," and a later donkey named "Knight of Malta," were used to breed mules for work on the plantation. By 1799, there were 57 mules at Mount Vernon. Washington hoped to eventually "secure a race of extraordinary goodness," with which to supply the entire nation.