Ben, a 32-year-old patrol horse that has worked for the National Park Service in Yosemite National Park since 1992 has officially retired from duty.
Park officials took to social media to bid adieu to the accomplished steed who spent his career patrolling trails throughout the park, being part of honor guards and leading mule trains.
Ben will spend his retirement out at pasture with the ranger who trained him in the early 1990s.
In the 1890s, the US Cavalry arrived in Yosemite to patrol the newly established national park and control poaching and general lawlessness among sheepherders and cattlemen. In 1916, Congress created the National Park Service and civilian park rangers completely replaced the cavalry. These early rangers patrolled with horses and mules—a practice that continues today.
Yosemite maintains approximately 90 horses and mules who honorably serve the National Park Service an average of 12 to 15 years. During the course of their service, they directly impact hundreds of thousands of visitors as mounted rangers and packers cover innumerable miles conducting patrols, supplying wilderness camps, conducting logging and trail maintenance, supporting wilderness outposts, providing law enforcement and search and rescue support, and representing the park in special events.
Because of the long and distinguished service of these animals, Yosemite National Park introduced the Yosemite Horse and Mule Adoption Program to ensure each animal is rewarded with a great home following its well-earned retirement.
The primary goal of the Yosemite Horse and Mule Adoption Program is to select a home for retiring horses and mules. The program publishes information about animals ready for retirement, identifies potential adopters, and selects the best candidate from a pool of applicants seeking to adopt a retired National Park Service animal.
Learn about the adoption process here.