President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the United States’ most notable Presidents. In his lifetime, he embraced the roles of author, solider, statesman, and explorer. And when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt took on the role of President. Like other Presidents before and after him, Roosevelt had a slew of pets in the White House. One such pet was his favorite horse, Bleistein.
As a child, Roosevelt suffered from asthma and had overall poor health. Rather than allowing himself to languish, he embraced an active lifestyle and that included strenuous riding. When Roosevelt went to Washington D.C. he took Bleistein with him so that he could continue his regime.
Bleistein was gifted to Roosevelt by his friend George Bleistein. In gratitude, Roosevelt named the horse for his friend. In a letter to George written in 1902, Roosevelt expressed his happiness with the Bleistein, saying: “I don’t know when I have ever received a gift out of which I get so much pleasure.”
Bred in Genesee Valley, New York, Bleistein was a hunter, light bay in color with black points, and stood a bit over 16 hands (5.33 feet) tall. This breed of horse tends to be excellent at jumping and Bleistein was no exception. According to rumor he was even able to clear a jump that was 5’8 with the President on his back – and at roughly 230 pounds, Roosevelt was a considerable weight to carry.
Apparently Theodore Roosevelt was a bit nearsighted, which was a hindrance when he would ride Bleistein along the paths of Rock Creek Park. Often bystanders and strollers would have to be hastily moved aside for the cantering President and his mount. Roosevelt often rode Bleistein long distances and over jumps at the Chevy Chase Club.
According to Tripod.com: “Roosevelt said of Bleistein, ‘Among the various horses I have owned in recent years Bleistein was the one I liked best, because of his good nature and courage. He was a fair, although in no way a remarkable jumper. One day, May 3, 1902, I took him out to Chevy Chase and had him photographed while jumping various fences and brush hurdles.’
Roosevelt died unexpectedly on January 5th, 1919. It is unknown when Bleistein died, but presumably when Roosevelt left the White House, he took his favorite mount with him.