President Rutherford B. Hayes may not have had the same passion for horses as his predecessor, Ulysses S. Grant, but he did keep horses at the White House. Among them were some carriage horses, who made a few headlines.
To be fair, it wasn’t exactly the horses’ fault. The man who purchased them, Hayes’ private secretary, William K. Rogers, was known to be a bit “hapless” and in fact President Hayes appointed Rogers only as a last resort and with great reluctance. The horses in question weren’t exactly the type to win “best in show”, but Rogers was a terrible judge of horses, and he purchased them for $900.
The rumor is that Rogers was mocked a bit by the newspapers of the day for his poor judgement and that Hayes was called upon to respond many times for his secretary’s incompetence.
Quality aside, Hayes enjoyed driving his carriages very much and did in fact have several carriage horses to choose from. At this time Presidents were still required to provide their own method of transportation (no taxpayer funded limousines.) Just after his election, Hayes spent $1,150 for a new carriage and $1,700 for a pair of black carriage horses to pull it.
Regardless, the Hayes family – particularly Rutherford Hayes’ wife Lucy – were great animal lovers and when they departed the White House it is likely that most of their horses went with them back to their home in Ohio.