Vice President Mike Pence claimed on Friday to have once been bitten by the famous Triple Crown-winning horse American Pharoah, turning the amusing anecdote into an allegory for the rough-and-tumble world of politics, but it may have been a tall tale.
During a speech at a policy retreat for House Republicans in Baltimore, Pence recalled his alleged close encounter at a Kentucky farm where the horse was being housed, prompting laughter from the audience when he said it “bit me so hard on the arm, I almost collapsed.”
“I just gritted my teeth and smiled, because you know what? In our line of work, you’re going to get bit sometimes, but you keep fighting forward. And we did.”
The story was met with applause, but for one man who was present during Pence’s 2018 visit, during which the vice president was given one of the horse’s halters, it didn’t ring true.
Dermot Ryan, manager of Ashford Stud in Versailles, a city in the state’s northeastern region just outside of Lexington, told the McClatchy news group that he would have been aware if something went awry.
“If he gave someone a nasty bite, I’d know it,” he said, adding that the farm was “very honored” by Pence’s visit and that the vice president was “very pleasant.”
According to a report from The Spectator’s U.S. edition, it wasn’t the first time Pence told the story. During his return to Kentucky in May, he told a crowd at the Governor’s Derby Eve Gala that the horse “bit me so hard, it left a mark and I show it to people the whole time.”
Pence’s deputy press secretary, Darin Miller, told HuffPost that Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) “was there and has verified that he saw the bruise after.”
A spokesperson from Barr’s then told HuffPost, “I can confirm for you that the bite occurred while VP Pence was in Kentucky campaigning for Rep. Barr. The Vice President did show the bruise to Rep. Barr on Air Force 2 on their way back to DC.”
This article has been updated with Miller’s response and a statement from Barr’s office.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.