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11 famous horses from history

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on Aug. 26, 2016, 2:10 p.m.
Hillingford Robert Alexander's painting of 'Wellington at Waterloo.'

Photo: Hillingford Robert Alexander/Wikimedia Commons

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Many of the most famous equines in history are those that served alongside humans during war. This is true for a 15-hand-high, ornery stallion named Copenhagen who gained fame after carrying the Duke of Wellington for 17 consecutive hours in the Battle of Waterloo.

Copenhagen was born in 1808 and was of thoroughbred and Arabian stock. The latter breed likely gave him particular stamina and his fiery temperament.

When the Duke dismounted Copenhagen after the lengthy battle, he gave Copenhagen a pat of gratitude on the flank. But his grumpy — and apparently tireless — steed nearly took his head off with a sharp kick.

According to The Regency Redingote: "Copenhagen very nearly achieved what the French had failed to do throughout that gruelling battle. But the Duke was quick enough to avoid that lethal hoof, the last danger he would face on that terrible day. His groom took the stallion’s reins and led him away for a well-deserved rub-down and rest."

Years later, and after a long retirement, Copenhagen died at the age of 28. But his story doesn't quite end there. When he was buried, the Duke noticed that one of Copenhagen's hooves had been cut off as a souvenir. He flew into a rage over it, and it wasn't until some time later that the stolen hoof was recovered and returned to the Duke. The Duke's son eventually turned the hoof into an ink stand.