Gallop Poll: A Brief History of Politicians Falling Off Horses

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is in good company.

T.W. Ingersoll/Library of Congress


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.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.