I’m not an emotional person when it comes to humans, but let me watch a movie or TV show where they dare have the lead animal die and I’m all water works. Why is it that we can so easily fall in love with animal actors? Well, all you horse lovers are in luck with today’s blog post when we talk about 5 famous movie, television or literary horses.
From director Steven Spielburg (so you know it has to be good) came the film, War Horse. Released in 2011, War Horse was an epic adventure for audiences of all ages. It is an adaptation of the 1982 children’s novel of the same name. The story is one of friendship, adventure and inspiration. The movie takes you from the birth of a Bay Thoroughbred foal, Joey through the hardships, challenges, and dangers of being a war horse during World War I. The only thing disappointing about War Horse was the fact that multiple horses played the lead role of Joey and we can’t fall in love with just one charismatic horse actor.
Seabiscuit was considered both a fictional film hero, as well as an actual American hero. This Thoroughbred racehorse not only brought hope to track junkies, but to the United States during the Great Depression. This famous real-life horse was the subject of the 1949 film, The Story of Seabiscuit, a 2001 book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend and a 2003 film, Seabiscuit. The race horse was an undersized, knobby-kneed symbol of American hope and became an unlikely champion.
Published only 5 months before her death, Black Beauty was Anna Sewell’s only novel. It sold over 50 million copies and became one of the best-selling books of all time. Not only did Black Beauty teach about animal welfare, but also how to treat people with kindness and respect. In 1994 Black Beauty was released onto the big screen and became a cult classic among horse lovers everywhere. An American Quarter Horse named Docs Keeping Time played Black Beauty in the film and Alan Cumming starred as the voice.
Probably one of the most iconic television stars of the 1960’s had to be everyone’s favorite equestrian friend. That’s right you guessed it, Mister Ed. The palamino horse was played by none other than gelding Bamboo Harvester and voiced by Alan Lane. Mister Ed first appeared into syndication in January 1961 and ran through July 1961. Later that year it was picked up by CBS and ran from October 1961 through February 1966. The show’s situation comedy brought many laughs to households across American. Mister Ed could talk, but would only do so to his owner Wilbur Post. Comedy really came to life with Ed’s mischief making and Wilbur’s clumsiness. As my mom would say, they just don’t make TV shows like that anymore.
In 2004 the film Hildago came out. The film’s premise was based on the legend of Frank Hopkins and his mustang Hildago. It recounts Hopkins’ life from touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show to racing his horse in Arabia in 1981 against pure-blood Arabian horses. Hopkins and Hildago were advertised as “the world’s greatest distance horse and rider” due to their success as cowboy and dispatch rider for the US government. Hopkins and Hildago were challenged to prove their ability in a 3,000-mile survival race across the Najd desert or give up their title. After a grueling near-death experience, they inevitably win both the race and respect. During that period of time mustangs, also known as the North American Colonial Spanish Horse were not respected or thought to be of value. The government even tried to eliminate the breed all together. Luckily, Hopkins used his winnings to buy a herd of mustangs the government ordered to kill.
The mustang breed has come a long way since then. Today they’re just as good of a breed as any. Many organizations even fight to keep the breed alive and popular. The Center for America’s First Horse is one that comes to mind. They’ve actually purchased a 65’ wide x 120’ long Hercules Truss Arch Building from us. They use it as an indoor arena, run-in for the mustangs and a venue to hold their monthly meetings and events.
It’s amazing to me how these horses cooperate and take their cues with ease. Let’s give a shout out to all the animal and horse trainers that make movies and TV shows like this possible. It can’t be easy. One way you could make it easier is to have a ClearSpan equine facility to train in.