Many of us dream of being in the limelight one way or another. Who could have ever thought that horses share that same interest? Or that a horse could help bring their owners into the limelight with their incredible talents and beauty? Here is a little story behind some of the most famous horses and their equally famous owners.
Famous people come to the Lowcountry every day. You can walk down King Street in the summertime and spot a star or two, or while you're sitting at your favorite restaurant in town someone famous could be sitting at the table next to yours. With our beautiful beaches, excellent food, amazing horse riding facilities, and perfect weather, Charleston offers the best of the best. More films and TV shows are being filmed in Charleston every year too, and stars of the silver and smaller screens are becoming a permanent fixture in our beautiful city. Beyond the stars that call Charleston their home or their favorite vacation spot, can you name any horse who has become famous on the big screen? Can you name a famous fixture in history who was known to be an amazing horseman or woman? You might be surprised to know there are many in both categories. Many modern celebrities love their horses or fall madly in love with them while working with them on set, but this list offers a little more than just that!
Many think of this handsome horseman as a TV and movie star. Which is 100% correct! Trigger, a stunning Palimino, was hist faithful horse and companion. To this day Trigger has become one of the most famous horses in film history, and Mr. Rogers was not too far behind him. Trigger stood at 15.3 hands tall, and was born on July 4th, 1943 and died on July 3rd, 1965. A child growing up during Trigger's lifetime knew who he was and that he was a cowboy's best friend. This beautiful horse used his fame to inspire so many, and never let stairs or elevators get in the way of a hospital or shelter visit. When he was born, his name was Golden Cloud. He was sold to the Hudkins Stables of Hollywood when he was three years old. This particular stable supplied horses exclusively for the TV and film industry. He appeared in his first film, "The Adventures of Robin Hood", and was ridden by the incredible Olivia de Haviland in 1938. Around the same time, a very handsome young cowboy who loved the movies changed his name from Leonard Slye to Roy Rogers. He chose the name so he could sound a little bit more like the cowboy he was. A real cowboy, now staring in his film, needed the perfect horse. That perfect horse was Golden Cloud. Rogers knew he was his match from the very first moment he rode him. Trigger earned his new name when a fellow actor of Rogers' noticed how quick he was, similar to Rogers' quick draw with a gun. So, he suggested the name, and it stuck. When their first movie together, "Under The Western Stars" made its premiere, one of the most important duos of all time was born. Knowing Trigger's popularity would continue to soar, Rogers couldn't bear the thought of someone else riding him or taking him away. So, he jumped into action and bought Trigger for his own for $2500, a mighty big sum at the time. Rogers paid in installments, and it was one of the best decisions he ever made. The duo soared to success, making one another more famous than they could have imagined. Trigger appeared in all 88 movies Rogers was in and in all 100 episodes of the Roy Rogers show and was a part of Roger's life until he died. He couldn't bear to see him buried, so he was taxidermied and was on display at multiple museums until the early 2000's when the last museum he appeared at shut down.
Queen Elizabeth and Burmese
The Royal family has been known for their deep love and appreciation of horses for generations. Queen Elizabeth has been one of the most prominent members of the Royal Family who has always loved and dedicated a large part of her life and time to her horses. Thanks to historical TV shows like "The Crown" we have gotten a front-row view of her love of horses and the passion she's had them from the time she was a very little girl. She had her very first pony at the age of three and is still known to ride today at the age of 92. To this day the royal family breeds some of the best horses in the UK, their horses winning almost every race in most recent history. From a very young age, Queen Elizabeth has owned and loved many spectacular horses. The standout of these beauties being Burmese, a stunning black mare that was gifted to her by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1969. For 18 years, the Queen rode Burmese in the Troping The Color Parade, a parade given in special honor of her birthday. She rode Burmese next to President Ronald Reagan, and she was also riding Burmese when in 1981, 6 blank shots were fired at her during her birthday parade. The stunning horse stood strong for her beloved Queen, who recovered almost instantly and continued riding with her head held high. Burmese was retired in 1986 and put out to pasture at Windsor Castle until her death in 1990. She is buried on the grounds of the castle, which is an extreme honor and a very unique one. The Queen had a statue commissioned in honor of Burmese's life, and today it stands in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature Building in Regina, Canada. This was the providence that Burmese was born. In the UK's history, the Queen has been ranked as one of the top horse breeders. She has also been ranked as one of the highest-profile horseback riding devotees in the world. Burmese was born in 1962 and was trained by corporal Fred Rasmussen. The Queen rode her daily when she was staying at her country house, not just during her birthday parades. She was a stunning sight to see when she was being ridden and is still remembered as one of the most beautiful horses in royal history.
We can't talk about famous horses without mentioning Mr. Ed, of course! This popular children's show stole the hearts of the nation and Mr. Ed was at the center of that love. The TV show focused around the friendship between Wilbur Post (played by Alan Young) and Mr. Ed, his talking horse (voiced by Alan Lane). Mr. Ed was named Bamboo Harvester off the big screen and was a stunning Palomino. The majority of the show is about Mr. Ed offering his best friend, Wilbert, advice on life. More often than not, he got Wilbur in trouble because Mr. Ed would only talk to Wilbur and no one else. The show was popular around the world, and long after it went off the air in 1966. The show aired from 1961 to 1966, and believe it or not, no one wanted to pick up the show at first. It took a year of private backing before it was picked up, but once it was the show was a smashing hit. Bamboo Harvester was born in 1949 and was trained by Les Hilton. Hilton was able to teach him to move his lips every time his hoof was touched. Peanut butter could also be used to get his lips moving so it looked like he was talking. Bamboo Harvester died in 1971 after an incredible life and career. No one knows exactly how he died, many stories are floating around Hollywood about it. The most probable story of them all is that he died from heart failure. A little known fact about the show, one of the most famous film cowboys of all time, Clint Eastwood, was on the show too!
There you have it! Some of the most popular horses and their celebrity counterparts of all time. Historically hundreds of horses could be added to this list. Horses have been used from the dawning of time to help conquer, protect, and build civilizations. They have journeyed from building the world to creating a world on the big screen. Who is your favorite TV or Film horse of all time? You never know, the next time you come take a ride at Middleton Equestrian Center, you might be riding the next big star Charleston will ever see!
It was such a joy to walk down the honored halls of some of the most famous horses of all time that we couldn't just limit it to one blog. It was hard enough to pick just a handful to celebrate, but it's been such fun to comb through their history and share their stories with you!
Happy November, Friends! Have you stopped by to enjoy the cool weather and beautiful foliage on our riding trails yet? It's starting to get chilly - so make sure you come to see us soon! While you are waiting for your next ride, we wanted to continue our history lesson with some of the most famous horses of all time. We are moving forward with Seabiscuit and Seattle Slew!
This amazing horse was the grandson of Man O' War, one of the horses we discussed in our last blog. Ironically, Seabiscuit didn't show any racing qualities until later in life and was on the smaller side. He was born in Lexington Kentucky on May 23, 1933. Just two years later he made his racing debut at Hialeah Park in Florida on January 19, 1935. Thankfully he was purchased by Charles S. Howard after his first few unsuccessful racing seasons. He lost 17 races in a row before Howard found him with trainer Tom Smith. They found Seabiscuit 200 pounds underweight, exhausted, and in a terrible temperament. He needed rest, relaxation, and to heal before anyone raced him again. That's exactly what Smith gave him, and he came out of his vacation a brand new horse.
With the help of Smith and his jockey Red Pollard, Seabiscuit won 11 of the 15 races he entered in 1937. Pollard was a bit of a controversial jockey. He was much bigger than most and was blind in one eye. But both underdogs took to one another right away, and the pair became famous virtually overnight. His popularity soared during the Great Depression and gave the country something to hang on to. He was named Horse of The Year in 1938 and was the champion handicap horse in 1937 and 1938. One of his crowning moments, known as the "Match of the Century", was when he defeated Warm Admiral in 1939 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. War Admiral was considered the fastest horse of his time, and no one saw this race turning out the way it did. Seabiscuit retired in 1940 and went on to inspire many books, movies, and a major motion picture in 2003 with Toby McGuire, Chris Cooper, and a full star-studded cast.
In his six racing seasons, Seabiscuit won 33 of his 89 races with a total winning of $437,730. At the time this was a record for an American Thoroughbred. Just a few days shy of his 14th birthday, Seabiscuit died of a heart attack and is buried at Ridgewood Ranch in California.
This stunning horse was born on February 15, 1974. His owners were Mickey and Karen Taylor and Jim Hill of Tayhill Stable. His parents were Bold Reasoning and poker mare, My Charmer. No one expected much from Slew when he was born, but thankfully someone gave him a chance. The moment he hit the race track, he was a born runner.
When Slew was born he was described as ugly, He was an almost all-black bay, something that didn't catch the eye. He had big floppy ears and a very big personality. He was big for his age, and very clumsy when he first started. He needed time to grow into his body, and to learn how to become the powerhouse he was destined to be. He was bought by Tayhill Stable at a steal of $17,500 in 1975. He was then trained by Bill Turner, and under his tutelage Slew learned quickly and had great confidence in his skills. At three years old he made his career debut with jockey Jean Cruguet, who helped him make a 5 length victory at Belmont Park on September 20th, 1977. He went on to win the Triple Crown that same year.
Slew was the 10th Triple Crown winner for the United States and the first to complete the series with an undefeated career record. Through his career years between 1976 and 1978, his total earnings were $1,208,726. He had 17 starts, 14 first place wins, and 2 second place wins. Just two months before he was set to retire he defeated the heir to the Triple Crown, Affirmed, in the Grade 1 Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park.
After he retired, he sired more than 100 stake winners. He was the only stakes winner to sire a Belmont winner, A.P. Indy, who also sired a Belmont winner, Rags to Riches. At the tender age of 28, Slew passed away 25 years to the day he won the Kentucky Derby.
These amazing horses have such inspiring stories to tell. We are inspired by them daily and the legacy they have left behind. We have loved walking down memory lane with you and look forward to the next time we meet. See you at the stables!
What are the Corolla Wild Horses and where did they come from?
All of us here at Middleton have always known that there was something very special about the beautiful and majestic horse - and the beautiful beaches that line the coast of the Lowcountry and her sister states. So, what happens you combine the two? Something truly spectacular. If you have ever traveled a little north of the Lowcountry and into the Outerbanks, you might have heard about the Corolla Wild Horses, a herd of very special horses that come from a mysterious and long line of majestic ancestors.
The Corolla Wild Horses are such a special attraction and are so beautiful because they are such a mystery. How did they get to this side of the world and who introduced them into the wild? Today around 400 wild horses making up several different herds that live on the North Carolina stretches of the Outerbanks. They can be spotted between Cape Lookout and Corolla. These incredible animals have survived hurricanes, human settlers, and everything else in between. Even though these horses are wild now, they are descendants of domesticated horses. Many historians believe they are direct ancestors of the Spanish Mustang. But really, how did they arrive here?
During the days of early exploration and settlement from Europe to the America Colonies, many Spanish ships were caught in the dangerous shallows along the Outerbanks called the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Many Spanish ships that were attempting to come to the early colonies and sunk in this graveyard have been found, many dating back to the early 1500s. The Corolla's ancestors could have come from any of these ships because don't forget - horses can swim. They could have been on these ships and have swum to shore after they sunk and took refuge in their new surroundings. But more likely, the Corolla are descended from Spanish Mustangs that were left behind by Spanish Settlers who had to abandon them and head back to their ships after being threatened by Native Americans, sickness, or failure to settle successfully. But let's dig a little deeper into their mystery shall we?
As I stated above, the history of these horses dates back almost 500 years, making them the oldest settlers in the Outerbanks. The Native Americans are the only other group that is older to American soil than these majestic creatures that first called this land home. Spanish settlers probably brought these horses to our shores, but when? What explorations? One of the first possibilities is that they could have arrived in 1521 with some of the very first explorers to the coastline with Lucas Vasquez de Allyon, a Spanish Explorer. Some speculate that this exploration party landed near Cape Fear and made it as far down in their journey as the Outerbanks. The Native Americans were not thrilled about these new visitors and were not welcoming to them at all. They killed them or forced these explorers to leave quickly and retreat to their ships and leave behind their livestock and crude settlements. There is some thought that the Corolla horses started their lineage here, as their ancestors would have been the livestock left behind.
A second, more plausible option, happened 60 years later as Richard Greenville was making his expeditions along the North Carolina Coast. His commander, Sir Walter Raleigh, made regular trips along with the West Indies to the early colonies of North Carolina and Virginia to deliver goods to its settlers and had Greenville many of these trips himself. In 1587, Greenville was leaving the West Indies set to deliver goods for his commander to the colonies. Greenville, as historical records go, hit trouble along Cape Fear and then again when the ship hit the shallow waters in the Graveyard of the Atlantic in an area called Diamond Shoals. At least one of the ships that was lost during these troubles contained live wild stock. The animals that survived the sinking could have swum and made it to shore. Some of these animals were also believed to have been the Spanish Mustangs.
Even though these two historical options are the most documented options, these are plenty of other speculations. But no matter their origin, the mystery of their appearance has been one of their biggest assets. After having been undisturbed for almost 400 years, the herd was almost pushed to extinction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The herd hit a record low of 40 horses due to inbreeding, eating bad food, and being hit by vehicles. The herd was moved to a more stable beach that could support their needs and promote their growth. But now, thanks to being protected by the National Park Service, the state of North Carolina, and by private funds and sanctuaries, they are ensured to remain for many more generations to come. They are an amazing gem, and truly something special to behold.
Now, with a rich history and healthy numbers - the Corolla Wild Horses will remain a beautiful staple of the Outerbanks. If you have the opportunity to encounter them, take the chance. You won't want to miss out on seeing these myster
Middleton Place Team