Horses & People

The Great Mystery of the Horse-Human Connection

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Image Source: iStock.com

by Nicole Miller

I fell in love with horses the way most young girls fall in love with horses — through movies, cartoons, horse figurines and even a wooden rocking horse. I couldn’t get enough. Every company picnic, I’d spend all day on the pony rides.

Needless to say, my dad knew this wasn’t a childhood phase. My mother had owned horses, and it must have been in the blood.

When we moved onto property, I was given my very first horse, and it was all over for me. A dozen years, two rodeo queen titles, and eight horses later, I’m still as obsessed, though I’m confined to city limits most days.

I now get a lot of my horse fix through blogs such as this one, which is how I’ve come to be the voice in front of you.

Since the day I started cleaning stalls at the age of 12 simply to be around horses, the horse-human connection has fascinated me. It seems to have captured quite a few folks:

In “Hollywoodland”* and beyond, there are many celebs known for their love of horses:
– Selma Blair
– Gisele Bundchen
– Madonna
– Christine Brinkley
– Johnny Depp
– Jennifer Garner
– Elizabeth Taylor
– Viggo Mortensen
– Joe Perry
– Robert Redford
– Nicole Kidman
– Jewel
– Lucy Liu

Nicole Miller & Grunnion

Nicole Miller & Grunnion

My own list:
– Jennifer Lawrence
– Patrick Swayze (was a champion for the Arabian breed)
– Russell Crowe
– Jamie Foxx (anyone catch the fact that he did his own horse stunts in Django Unchained?)
– Ronald Reagan
– Queen Elizabeth (she’s still riding!)
– Captain Kirk – I mean – William Shatner

There are so many more…

But what is it? What is that spark that draws some people to horses (and not others?)

In future posts, I will examine humans throughout history who have truly loved their horses and sometimes how that love impacted history. First off, I’d love to hear what you think.


Readers: What is it about horses that draws you in? How would you define the horse-human connection?


*I’m reading a great book about the cowboys who shaped the early movies and I just love calling it Hollywoodland.

**Source: http://wonderwall.msn.com/movies/celebs-who-love-horses-12403.gallery

Farriers, Hoof Care & Your Horse: Q&A with Bryan Farcus

“A hoof pick a day can keep the doctor away.”

by Keith Templeton

Keith Templeton edits The Farrier Guide to education and employment, a resource for farriers that features a worldwide directory of horseshoeing schools, informative guides to finding the right school and working as a farrier as well as interviews with experienced farriers.

Photo by Paulina Kozlowska

Photo by Paulina Kozlowska

With more than 25 years of experience horseshoeing, teaching, and riding, Bryan Farcus educates horse owners around the country through regular hoof care demonstrations and horse clinics. The Farrier Guide caught up with Farcus to ask him about the basics of hoof care and how horses and owners benefit from the services of a farrier.

What does a farrier do?
Today’s farrier is not necessarily your granddaddy’s blacksmith. One main reason for this is that the use of our modern day horses is one of recreation, rather than one of work. Back in the day, to shoe a horse meant that you had to produce many of the tools and shoes used from scratch. To be a farrier (shoer of the horse), you had to also be a metal/iron working specialist.
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Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World’s Smartest Horse

Was Beautiful Jim Key a hoax or the real thing? No one was ever able to prove the act was fake. I think it might be an authentic story.


by Kristin Berkery

More than simply the biography of an unusual sideshow act, Beautiful Jim Key by Mim Eichler Rivas takes a thorough look at American history from before the Civil War to the mid-20th century, examining race relations, World’s Fair and exposition history, and the development of the humane movement. The story centers around the “Arabian-Hambletonian educated horse” Beautiful Jim Key, his breeder William Key, who was a business-savvy former slave, and their promoter, Albert Rogers, a privileged young New Yorker who aspired to being a philanthropist.

A VIP pass to one of Beautiful Jim Key’s performances at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
From Beautiful Jim Key by Mim Eichler Rivas

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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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