Gallop Poll: A Brief History of Politicians Falling Off Horses

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is in good company.

T.W. Ingersoll/Library of Congress

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The neighs have it.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) is recovering nicely after falling off a horse while on vacation in Tanzania in December. The Clinton confidante broke seven ribs in the fall and underwent an operation on Monday to drain fluid from his chest. Fortunately for McAuliffe, he’s in good company—politicians have had trouble holding onto their horses since at least the time of Herodotus. A brief history:

2014: At a holiday parade in Tulsa, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) loses control of his horse, Speck, and crashes into a parked minivan with “Merry Christmas” written on the side.

2014: Dressed in colonial garb for a tourism video, Geelong, Australia mayor Darryn Lyons falls off his horse. His peroxide mohawk is unharmed.

2013: Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov (pronounced just like it’s spelled) shuts down his nation’s internet after a viral YouTube video circulates showing him falling off his horse during a race.

2011: Former Alabama supreme court chief justice Roy Moore breaks several bones after falling off his horse. Moore recovers and triumphantly rides his horse to the polls the next year to vote for himself.

2010: Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) needs two ten-inch bolts to repair a broken pelvis after falling from his horse at a ranch.

2004: Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) falls off a horse during a congressional delegation to Kazakhstan after downing six shots of vodka. Montana Democrats circulate an unsubstantiated rumor that Rehberg consumed a total of 20 shots of vodka and serenaded his hosts by chanting “meep meep” like a Conehead.

2003: Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan falls off an Arabian horse at an Istanbul park, after two previous attempts to hop on were unsuccessful. “The important point is to be able to stand up after falling down,” he says.

1908: President Theodore Roosevelt, a noted outdoorsman, is thrown off his mount while fording Washington, DC’s Rock Creek. He falls 10 feet but lands beside the horse, escaping further injury.

1847: Future president Franklin Pierce is thrown from his horse during battle outside Mexico City. Pierce’s leg is crushed after his horse falls on him, and he passes out, for which his subordinates derisively nickname him “Fainting Frank.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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