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Zinke Horse

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrives for his first day of work at the Interior Department in Washington on Thursday aboard Tonto, an 17-year-old Irish sport horse.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrived on horseback for his first day of work Thursday.

The morning after his swearing-in ceremony, the former Montana congressman and Navy SEAL joined the U.S. Park Police at their stables on the National Mall. He rode a 17-year-old Irish sport horse named Tonto through downtown Washington to the Interior Department's headquarters. Nine park police also on horseback accompanied him.

"Secretary Zinke was proud to accept an invitation by the U.S. Park Police to stand shoulder to shoulder with their officers on his first day at Interior," said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift.

The Hill reported that he "wore a cowboy hat, boots and jeans for the Thursday morning ride, which preceded a welcoming event in the lobby of the building."

Zinke and Interior Twitter accounts posted photos. There he is in a black cowboy hat astride a brown bay roan gelding that stands just over 17 hands tall, a bus and typical morning traffic in the background.

At the department, hundreds of federal workers greeted Zinke, including an Office of Indian Affairs employee from the Northern Cheyenne tribe from Montana who played an honor song on a hand drum.

Can Zinke do for horses what Joe Biden did for trains? The former vice president and senator famously commuted to his home in Delaware by train for decades.

While Zinke's urban horse ride is unlikely to become a daily ritual, he seems committed to preserving his image as an avid outdoorsman. He wears a bright orange ballcap and hunting vest in the bio photo of his new @secretaryzinke Twitter account. And he has already retweeted a photo showing him and his wife at Glacier National Park.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Zinke's nomination to lead Interior on a 68-31 vote. Montana’s U.S. Sens. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, both voted to confirm Zinke.

Zinke was sworn in Wednesday afternoon. The Whitefish native is the first Montanan in U.S. history to serve in a presidential Cabinet. 

The Senate confirmation triggered Zinke's resignation from Congress and a May 25 special election to replace him.

The Interior Department oversees 400 million acres of public land, mostly in the West.

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