Pony Express Horses

The total bill for putting horseflesh under saddle was in the neighborhood of $87,000. At a $175 average for 500 mounts the company paid what appears to have been a going market price, not for a hypothetical Pegasus or blooded race horse, but for a substantial, serviceable mount. Much emotional drivel and romantic foofuraw has been introduced into pulp-book history about the steed of the Pony rider, attributing to this rare animal supernatural speeds and endurance that have elevated him into a state of equine immortality.

Far from it. The giveaway is the Jones, Russell & Co. advertisement at Leavenworth, seeking horses “well broke and warranted sound”-not thoroughbred racers. It so happens that many of the horses purchased there were bought from Captain McKissack, quartermaster at Fort Leavenworth. Army service certainly was comparable-and a good recommendation-for the rough duty that was to be expected of a horse “suitable for running the overland Pony Express.”