On March 23, 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy received a precious gift from Muhammad Ayub Khan, the president of Pakistan: a horse named Sardar.
During one of the First Lady’s trips to Pakistan, she had the opportunity to go riding with President Khan, who seemed captivated by her. That night, President Khan presented Jackie Kennedy with a beautiful necklace and then Sardar, the 10-year-old bay gelding she had ridden on their afternoon jaunt.
When it was time to fly home, Jackie even pleaded with President Kennedy to give special treatment to Sardar that would allow the horse to skip customs. The president agreed and, according to Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years, he even teased his wife that “the government had dropped all its other work on domestic and international affairs in order to devote full-time attention to Sardar.”
This uncommon request did meet some backlash. Republican Congressman Walter McVey complained about being refused transportation on a Military Air Transport Service flight because he was not a member of the reserves — but that Sardar had netted an Air Force plane for his own transport.
According to McVey, “Sardar has more influence than a congressman,” and he queried whether Sardar was a “military reservist or a member of the reserve.” McVey, perhaps understanding that insulting the First Lady’s new love was not wise, apologized to Sardar shortly thereafter.
Her “Favorite Treasure”
Jackie, an avid horsewoman all her life, promptly fell in love with Sardar.
According to History.com, Jackie so loved Sardar that she referred to him as her “favorite treasure in her private memoirs.” And although accepting costly gifts could be looked at askance, Jackie maintained Sardar’s care from her personal funds.
Sardar was even once part of a small scandal of his own. Apparently, some protestors took offense to him and his pony friends, Tex and Macaroni, walking around the White House grounds without clothes. White House staff tried to keep a straight face but found the picketers’ cause to be rather hilarious.
Sardar, of course, couldn’t care less about appearing in public in the nude.
Going for Rides
Once Sardar was part of the Kennedy family, the First Lady could often be seen riding him either on the White House grounds or at Glen Ora, the Kennedys’ home in Virginia, often alongside her daughter, Caroline.
After the assassination of President Kennedy, it was said that Sardar was the riderless horse that followed the caisson of the president. The horse was “skittish” and seemed unused to the activity of the crowds. However, the next day the White House stated that it was not Sardar but a military horse named Black Jack.
After Jackie Kennedy left the White House, Sardar presumably lived most of his days quite happily at the Kennedy’s Virginia home.