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Blackie (horse)

File:Blackie Statue.jpg
Statue of Blackie erected in his long-time pasture, located in Tiburon, CA

Blackie was a swaybacked horse who, for twenty-eight years, was a well-known fixture in Tiburon, California. He not only stood in the same spot in a pasture at the corner of Tiburon Boulevard and Trestle Glen Road, rarely moving, day after day, but he faced in the same direction, becoming the local mascot of several generations. Born in Kansas, Blackie was brought to California to become a cutting horse at rodeos. After his rodeo career he was sold to the Army and became a cavalry horse, accompanying the Army horses stabled at the Presidio of San Francisco as they rode to Yosemite National Park each spring to patrol the park. He was retired when he was 12 years old.

On October 1, 1938, Blackie made history by swimming across the San Francisco Bay from the Marin County side to San Francisco's Crissy Field. He swam it in 23 minutes and 15 seconds, winning a $1,000 bet for his then owner, Shorty Roberts.

A short time later, Anthony Connell, his new owner, put him in the Tiburon pasture where he found his spot and stood, day after day in the same place, for 28 years. When Blackie collapsed and died while standing in “his” spot on February 27, 1966, the Marin County Health Department approved his burial in the pasture. His grave was marked by a simple cross and a memorial plaque made possible by contributions from citizens of the peninsula. In June 1995, thanks to a gift by the family of Gordon Strawbridge, Tiburon's first mayor, the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation erected a life-sized sculpture of Blackie created by the noted Bay Area artist, Albert Guibara, in what is now known as Blackie’s Pasture.

One of Blackie's most famous achievements was his swim across San Francisco Bay in 1938. There is some debate between writers for the press and people who have compared the video and photographs as to whether or not Blackie the horse of Tiburon is the same Blackie who made this swim. If these are actually two different horses with the same name, they were the same age. Blackie of Tiburon's grave marker confirms that he was born in 1926, which would have made him 12 years old at the time of the swim. The 1938 video footage of Blackie swimming states clearly that he was 12 years old at the time, as do current newspaper articles. And while video footage of the horse in 1938 and the photographs of 1960 show some differences (such as white hair at the leg bottoms, a spot of white hair on the forehead, and the swaybacked condition), these can all be explained by the aging process and Blackie's lack of exercise in his later years. Newspaper articles and press write-ups in recent years have made it clear that there was only one horse named Blackie, not two different horses. The Tri-Valley Herald reported that Blackie "was about 12 during the big swim... he was eventually retired to roam a pasture in Marin County." And the Oakland Tribune similarly reported that "Blackie may not have been a Kentucky Derby winner, but for swimming across San Francisco Bay he had no equine equal. Blackie is buried near that Marin pasture and a headstone marks the grave."

External links

Further reading

Staats, Jim (2007-04-17). "Blackie and Seabiscuit side by side". Marin Independent Journal. http://www.marinij.com/ci_5687937. 

McMahon, Regan (2006-09-27). "Tiburon's beloved Blackie is galloping again in a new book". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/09/27/DDG0CLCGAR1.DTL. 

Polito, Rick (2006-09-29). "New book, party honor Blackie - a Tiburon icon". Marin Independent Journal. http://www.marinij.com/ci_4416714. 



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