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Horses in Commercials, Television and Movies
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Horses in Commercials, Television and Movies

Horses are often used in commercials, movies and television. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the ethical treatment of horses in Hollywood. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 regulates the treatment of animals in exhibition, which includes commercials, movies and television. PETA activists keep a close reign on Hollywood’s treatment of horses. Generally, horses are treated well in Hollywood; however, PETA reports cases of mistreatment from time to time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture takes legal action when necessary.

Commercials: The famous Budweiser Clydesdales have appeared in commercials since 1933. However, the historical icons will not be appearing in commercials during the 2014 Christmas season. Anheuser-Busch has several teams of Clydesdales that travel and appear in commercials. The traveling teams stop each night at local stables. Dodge Durango, Ford Mustang and other automobile commercials have featured horses.

Movies: There have been many movies featuring horse actors over the years. The 2003 movie, Seabiscuit, is based on an undersized, thoroughbred, race horse. National Velvet produced in 1944, starred Elizabeth Taylor, as a 12-year old girl that won a horse race; however, was disqualified due to age. In the 2004 movie set in 1891, distance rider, Frank Hopkins and Hidalgo, his mustang, are challenged to a 3,000 mile survival race across the desert. The antics of a jealous young girl and her stallion, Black Beauty, are showcased in the 1946 movie, by the same name.

Television: Mr. Ed may be one of the most famous series to place the spotlight on a horse. In the 1960’s television series, Mr. Ed portrayed a talking horse along with his owner, Wilbur Post. Mr. Ed was portrayed by a gelding palomino by the name of Bamboo Harvester. Bonanza, The Rifleman, Death Valley, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and countless other western television series employed horse actors.

*Photo courtesy of Bonanza by Truss, Bob and Jan too at Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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  1. Randolp
    Grew up watching westerns and horse movies. My faavorite was Man From Snowy River.
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    1. Archippus
      I did too! Yes Man from Snowy River is a very good movie! Thanks for the vote Randolph!
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  2. jst4horses
    The Horse with the Flying Tail is my favorite. The rider was one of my trainers. He trained way into his eighties. The part I do NOT like about movies, commercials, etc, is that they do not put in a disclaimer regarding that horses can NOT run as they do in the movies. Horses that are athletes, taken special care of, on tracks made for running safety for horse and rider can not run for more than a little over a minute. Some can not make it that long. I have seen them simply drop dead on the track as their heart or lungs exploded. People need to know the rule of thumb is for every MINUTE cantering, ONE HOUR walking, either riding or walking the horse to cool it out, running, even longer. I taught horse handlers for licensing, and for a horse in a mile race, the horse is trotted, and walked back to where the horse is retrieved by the groom, who puts a blanket on it, and walks it the half mile or so back to the testing barns, then back to their own barn where the horse has FOUR bottles of rubbing alcohol poured over its neck and sides. THEN a blanket is put on, and the horse is walked, walked, walked until the trainer says, yes, one gulp of water every five or ten times around the walking ring. After about half an hour the horse is given a HOT bath, and a cold rinse, and a hot sheet, and walked, walked, walked, until the trainer says it can have two gulps of water. It can take up to two hours to cool out a horse properly, if it is still too hot, occasionally longer, until the vet arrives. In the old days horses were cheap and they did not care if they killed them by over riding. Some people today just do not know that horses can NOT run around as they do in movies and commercials.
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    1. Archippus
      Good information Jst4horses! Perhaps you would consider writing an article.
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  3. jst4horses
    This is a nice article. We all need to know that the Humane Society is on it. I have worked as a handler on some of the shoots, and to tell the truth, the animals are treated a LOT better than the extras for sure, and even some of the stars! One thing I do wish is that the horses (and other animals) would be guaranteed retirement somewhere, not just sold down and off to slaughter auctions. The mustang from SPIRIT was given particular care by the movie producers, and he is in a lifetime home that was chosen out of several applicants. The key requisites were the commitment to keep the horse for life, and to make sure it was not commercialized to the detriment of the horse. I wish that for all the horses. I think Budweiser does retire their horses, but have not been up to their farm here in California for many years, so hope they still do turn them out to pasture in those lush fields and let them live out their lives peacefully. I hope Wells Fargo and other big commercial horse owners also retire their working horses out to pasture forever when they are no longer working. Especially parade and commercial horses, unless injured, are able to work many, many years. I was able to see horses I had met while the Clydesdales were at Santa Anita while they were performing at the Fair Grounds, it was nice to know the driver, and some of the horses again. They did recognize me. As a licensed horse handler trainer and also a horse trainer I met and was able to go visit the handlers at the track and get to know these gentle horses. I would certainly love to know they are in forever pastures, being well taken care of for all the joy they have given so many over the years.
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    1. Archippus
      Agreed Jst4horses, I would like to see each horse live their final lives well cared, nourished and plenty of room to roam!
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