Kristin Berkery

Kristin is a freelance graphic designer and writer in Sacramento, California, with a life-long passion for horses. She designs websites and marketing materials for businesses. In her spare time she's active with her daughter and son. See Kristin's online portfolio and LinkedIn profile.

The Humane Movement Goes to Hollywood to Protect Horses

by Kristin Berkery

At the turn of the 20th century, horses were often viewed as unfeeling, disposable animals. They were the means to an end — useful for transporting people and goods, producing crops, and in Hollywood, for adding dramatic flair to movies. Especially on early movie sets, there was little regard for horses’ fates.

These stories and many more about horses on film can be found in Hollywood Hoofbeats by Petrine Day Mitchum

Made in 1936, The Charge of the Light Brigade was one of the first movies to raise awareness of horses’ treatment in the film industry. Actor Errol Flynn was appalled and spoke out when he saw several horses (one report says 25 or more) die or be destroyed as a result of the epic battle scene. To make it appear that the horses and riders were shot by enemy fire, the filmmakers rigged wires to trip the horses while they were running at full speed. Some horses broke their necks and died instantly while others broke legs and were euthanized.

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How Black Beauty Gave Animals a Voice

by Kristin Berkery

One of the first American editions of Black Beauty, published by F.M. Lupton Publishing Company, New York, in 1885. Download the FREE Nook book

Most horse-loving kids read Black Beauty at some point, and even though it’s a well-loved story, most adults view it as children’s fiction. But that wasn’t what author Anna Sewell intended.

Sewell was permanently disabled after a childhood accident and never married or had children. Of English Quaker origins, she subscribed to the belief that all humans and animals should be treated fairly. Sewell spent the last few years of her life writing Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse, bedridden by poor health and cared for by her mother. She never got to appreciate its immense success — Sewell died just five months after the book was published in late 1877.

Black Beauty was ground-breaking. It was the first novel to tell a story from the perspective of an animal, giving readers a realistic glimpse into the hard lives of horses in Victorian England. Because horses were necessary for transportation and farm work, they were often mistreated and considered no better than inanimate objects. Sewell had empathy for all animals, but especially horses, and she wrote Black Beauty in the hope that it might inspire people to treat horses with more kindness.

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The Head and Not The Heart: An Interview with Natalie Reinert

“Our lives as horsepeople are exciting and sorrowful and wonderful and tragic on a daily basis, and I want to write about that.” – Natalie Keller Reinert

Natalie Keller Reinert is the author of the novella The Head and Not The Heart, a story about a young woman who experiences loss and romantic confusion in the horse world. The heroine, Alex, lives and works on a Thoroughbred breeding and training farm in Florida with her boyfriend, Alexander, who’s a respected race trainer. After losing two young horses that were dear to both of them, Alex begins to question her involvement in the business and her relationship with Alexander. Alex takes a trip to New York City to check out a new horse and finds much more than she expected.

Natalie took a moment away from writing about OTTBs at the Retired Racehorse and working with horses in Central Park for the NYC Parks Department (what a job!) to answer a few questions about her first book.
                                                      — Kristin Berkery

Lava Man at Del Mar Racetrack in 2006. Photo by Matt Brockmeyer

What personality traits do you have in common with Alex? How are you different?Alex and I are both dreamers. Dreamers that pursue their dreams relentlessly… but keep dreaming new dreams all the time. And never forget their old ones. Getting pulled in multiple directions: that’s our biggest problem. I’m a city girl with a country passion; that’s hard to reconcile.
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Elvis and the Horses of Graceland

by Kristin Berkery

Like everything else in his life, Elvis’ love for horses was over the top. There are stories of him going to breeding farms before dawn and asking to buy their horses. Many of his own mounts were barn sour, meaning they developed a habit of trying to turn around on the trail and run home, because Elvis always galloped his horses home at full speed.

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What is a Curly?

Curly horses in the 2007 Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. Photo by Zeetz Jones/flickr.com

by Kristin Berkery

Most horses’ coats become wild and woolly in the winter, but not Curly horses. Starting in the fall, most Curlies grow a winter coat of luxurious curls or waves covering their bodies. The coat sheds in the warmer months leaving smooth or wavy hair behind, and in some cases, they may even shed their entire manes and tails in the summer.
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