All the hoopla over War Horse brought back my childhood memories of Reckless, America's real life equine warrior of the 1950s. Unknown to most horsemen of today and long forgotten by those of a certain age, the little mare now has her own Facebook fan club as well as a website and a statue in the works.
She deserves it. No mere cavalry horse, the little mare, whose story unfolds in Andrew Geer's 1955 book Reckless: Pride of the Marines, served in the Korean conflict, earning two purple hearts, the rank of Marine staff sergeant, and a long retirement at Camp Pendleton as the equine embodiment of Marine courage and service.
Touching, terrifying, amusing, and exhilarating without need for padding or theatrical exaggeration, her story's all the more remarkable. I vaguely remember first checking out our library's copy of Andrew Geer's 1955 book when I was nine or ten and its pages were new. I scanned it again online last year, and I'm going to read it once more this week.
While I remember her intelligence and willingness to work in detail, I need to refresh myself on her bloodlines. Anyone with even a shallow grasp of conformation and breed type will wonder about her being called a Mongol pony. Looking at photos of Reckless reminds me more of Theodore O'Connor, America's ill-fated eventing Super Pony, than of some stout little Mongol nag. I vaguely remember something about Japanese race stock heritage. That I believe. Perhaps still fresh memories of World War II made Mongol descent more palatable. But Mongol stock is hardly known for refinement, and Reckless--more than a little ironically--added refinement and feminine good looks to her image as the consummate Marine.