I Am the Horse In the Family Film

You will laugh, you will cry, and you will roll your eyes at my anthropomorphized antics.

I am the horse in the family film.

I am doomed, for the first half-hour, to be tragically misunderstood by my owners, who are universally either a spoiled wealthy little girl or a spoiled wealthy middle-aged man. I whinny in frustration and stamp my feet. Sometimes I rear. I make noises no horse should make. I show spirit, which is misinterpreted by my spoiled wealthy owner as stubbornness or stupidity. I can ease the tension of these early encounters by dropping manure in suggestive locations, or picking up my owner’s hat and throwing it into his face. I will be sure to embarrass my spoiled wealthy little girl in front of her other spoiled wealthy frenemies.

There is a moment in which my spirit and the impatience of my spoiled wealthy owner finally come to conflict, and I refuse a fence, or shy and bolt, or buck my rider to the ground. I am deemed worthless, and whether my owner is simply in tears on the ground or perhaps bankrupt or hospitalized due to my misunderstood nature, I am slammed shut in a stall, a roundpen, packaged off to a sale. I am down on my luck.

And then my little girl comes along — sometimes, it’s a little boy, but it’s usually a girl, going through the pangs of a misunderstood young teenage life. She is troubled, sometimes without a mother, or without a father, or without any family at all. We make eye contact, and we share a most magical moment in which time stands still. She sees in me a representation of herself, a spirited creature who longs for a chance to run free. She will do something rash, like turn me loose in the wilderness or use her life savings to purchase me for her very own.

She will have to fight tooth and nail to keep me, whether she is arguing with her parent(s) or outsmarting my former owners. But she has an ally in this fight in the form of an old cowboy, a retired jockey, an old horseman of some renown. He is labeled eccentric by everyone else in the film, and his speech is peppered with phrases like “by golly” and “right as rain,” but never in such a way as to be ironic. Because no one else is as genuine as the old cowboy or the retired jockey. He is true to himself and my little girl and me.

But this story doesn’t end here — oh no. It’s not enough that we be happy ever after, my girl and me. We must prepare, in an upbeat montage, narrated by the old cowboy, for a critical horse show or race or showdown, to prove to the world that we are something to be valued. Self-worth is not enough. We need the ribbon or the trophy to validate our relationship. We need everyone else to see that our partnership is more than just a girl and a horse — it’s something mystical. We put in the hours. The montage rolls on. We struggle. My girl whispers encouraging words in my ear. The montage rolls on.

Just days before the big competition, I will pull up lame, or there will be a huge storm and I will escape my corral, or I will be suddenly ill. Foul play will be suspected, but won’t be proven until later. Fortunately, the old cowboy knows an old ancient remedy and nurses me back to health, just in time and in spectacularly unrealistic fashion. With minutes to spare, my girl and I will arrive at the show grounds or the race track, fighting ready.

We share a moment, my girl and I, another scene in which time stands still. We make eye contact. And my girl knows that I know that she believes in me, her horse, the wings she lacks. And we do the impossible and win the illogical competition. We are champions. We are immortal. We are a symbol of hope for horse lovers everywhere.

Go riding!

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