movie

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.

(more…)

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.

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.

(more…)

Celebrities & Horses: William Shatner, Queen Elizabeth II & Patrick Swayze

by Kristin Berkery

Sussim osim nissim — translated from Hebrew, “horses make miracles.”

William Shatner driving his famous Saddlebred stallion, Call Me Ringo, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. AP photo

William Shatner
During the 1983 filming of a T.J. Hooker episode at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, William Shatner noticed a black Saddlebred stallion he couldn’t stop thinking about. The horse, Sultan’s Great Day, was a coal-black son of the legendary Supreme Sultan, but that didn’t matter to Shatner. All he cared about was buying the beautiful horse, which he paid a premium for because of his inexperience in the horse business.

(more…)

A Real-Life War Horse: *Witez II’s Journey Into History

by Kristin Berkery

And Miles To Go
by Linell Nash Smith

The two world wars have been fodder for many filmmakers, but there’s a compelling story from that era that’s fallen between the cracks. And Miles To Go by Linell Nash Smith documents the life of the Arabian stallion *Witez II from his foaling in Poland the year before the Nazi invasion to his life as a celebrity sire in the U.S.

First published in 1967 by Little, Brown and Company, And Miles To Go was reprinted in 1986 by the Arabian Horse Trust during a time when the Arabian business was still flush with cash. After the crash of the Arabian market, the book was never reprinted. The Arabian Horse Trust closed its doors in 2000.

The Polish family portrayed in Witez’s early life is fictional, but the author stayed true to the events that were happening in Poland. Other key characters who interacted with Witez (pronounced vee-TEZH) during his journeys were real people.

(more…)

War Horse and Those Amazing Equine Actors

by Kristin Berkery

Hollywood Hoofbeats

Hollywood Hoofbeats by Petrine Day Mitchum

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.
(more…)