Fantasy versus reality equestrian edition: Lessons learned about horses from television and film

Eastern Hay 770x170-March


Fantasy versus reality equestrian edition (Version 5,648): Lessons learned about horses from television and film

Ah, winter. Sometimes even the hardiest equestrian has to give up in the face of negative double digits. I admit I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold. But I’ve been trying to get my riding fix watching some horsey television programs and films. Thus far during this cold snap, I’ve learned:

Lesson 1: Horses are just really big dogs.
As you can see in the first few minutes of this episode from the classic British children’s television show Black Beauty, every horse knows not to listen to anyone but his true, loving owner and responds to verbal commands with Lassie-like obedience.

I’ll remember this when the horse I ride gives me the equine middle finger when I’m trying to get him to crank up to a slightly faster pace than a sluggish jog.

Lesson 2: Rescue on horseback is always imminent.
I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen, so I know when a heroine goes out for a stroll and there is a raincloud in the distant horizon, dire things are about to occur. Sense and Sensibility is no exception. But never fear, a dashing man on horseback will arrive, ready to rescue the lady in peril. Plus, even a wild, rearing horse can become “quiet safe” instantaneously under the steadying influence of his handsome rider.

I attribute the fact that no one has ever rescued me when I am out running in the rain to the ugly yellow polar fleece I wear to prevent cars from hitting me. Next time, I’m wearing a petticoat and hopefully, I can get a hot boyfriend and a horse by the end of my workout.

Lesson 3: There will be an instant bond between horse and rider.
I weep over all the money I’ve spent on riding lessons over the years. As I’ve learned from this clip, all I need to do to tame even the wildest black stallion is some dramatic background music and a positive and playful attitude.


Lesson 4: Horses will always tell you if there is something wrong.
Every rider has at some point has agonized about her choice of saddle or bit. But as you can see from this clip of the film version of Black Beauty, a horse will tell you in no uncertain terms if she’s not happy with your selection through lots of whinnying, pawing, and rearing.

Lesson 5: A girl’s love of a horse is stronger than any biology textbook.
What’s not to love in this montage from International Velvet? Velvet’s old Grand National mount The Pie has been put out to stud and the now-grown Velvet and her niece are a witness to the birth of his adorable foal. Just ignore the pesky fact that The Pie was actually a gelding. The film’s need for dramatic parallels between past and present bestow amazing reproductive gifts.

Of course, in Enid Bagnold’s book National Velvet, The Pie was, you know, a piebald. Given the challenges of having multiple piebald horses with the same colouring in a less technologically advanced era, I’ll give the film (and the original) a pass for a solid-coloured Pie.

Temperatures are supposed to climb into a more bearable range next week. Hopefully, before I become too well-educated in my cinematic studies of horsemanship.

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