On Film

War Horse and Those Amazing Equine Actors

by Kristin Berkery

If you haven’t seen War Horse and you don’t like spoilers, you may want to read something else on ilovehorses.net. I’ve tried not to reveal too much about the climactic parts of the movie (of which there are many) while still providing some teasers.
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Happy New Year! Videos of Horses in the Snow

by Kristin Berkery

Icelandic Horse in the snow. Photo by Thduke, digitally altered by Nevit Dilmen

Spending 16 years in the Midwest left me averse to the cold, but I still love watching horses in the snow. Courtesy of YouTube, here are some fun videos that you can enjoy in the warm indoors with a cup of hot cocoa. Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2012.

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The Horse Who Played Phar Lap

by Kristin Berkery

The uncanny resemblance between the real Phar Lap (left) and his movie double, Towering Inferno (right)

Phar Lap was such an exceptional individual that the producer of the movie Phar Lap wanted the actor playing the big red horse to be one-of-a-kind, too. The movie’s horsemaster and head trainer searched for months with no luck. Finally, the two were visiting a friend on a ranch (called a “station” in Australia) 800 miles northeast of Melbourne, Australia, when they spotted a horse they were interested in.
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A Horse Racing Mockumentary Charges Out of the Gate

I’m a fan of mockumentaries like This is Spinal Tap and Best In Show, so I’m looking forward to checking out And They’re Off… starring Sean Astin, Cheri Oteri from Saturday Night Live, Kevin Nealon, and Martin Mull. Even Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert makes a cameo appearance.

Sean Astin plays a Thoroughbred trainer in the middle of a long losing streak who’s attempting to prove to his father, played by Martin Mull, that he can train a winning horse. Cheri Oteri is an emotionally erratic jockey who wants to do more than just ride for Astin’s character, and Kevin Nealon plays a taxidermist who tries to encourage the losing trainer to switch careers. The racing team faces setbacks on their way to the Bunson Swine Mile, the biggest race at the San Joaquin County Fair.
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Unexpected Greatness: How Phar Lap Galloped into Australia’s Heart

A dirt-cheap colt becomes a national hero, an immortal icon, and an enduring mystery.

Phar Lap in 1930 with jockey Jim Pike

Phar Lap in 1930 with jockey Jim Pike

by Kristin Berkery

Phar Lap with his devoted groom, Tommy Woodcock

An Unremarkable Beginning
On October 4, 1926, during the southern hemisphere’s spring, a chestnut Thoroughbred colt was born in Timaru, New Zealand. As a yearling he was purchased at auction for only 160 guineas, or $35 in U.S. currency — about $465 today, adjusted for inflation. Certainly no one expected the colt to grow up and become an Australian national hero within five years.
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