Pretty is as Pretty Does: Lessons from “The Black Stallion”

From the movie The Black Stallion.

Earlier this week I had an afternoon to myself with nothing to do and I found myself bored in front of the T.V. flipping through the channels. There was absolutely nothing on, and I probably went through the whole list twice before a young boy on a beautiful black Arabian raced across the screen. It was Alec and his Black Stallion. Anyone who has ever grown up begging his or her parents for a pony for Christmas knows this scene. Alec has just bonded with the horse that saved him from the sinking Drake, and with small hands buried in the tangle of black mane, they take off across the beach. I read every book in that series and fantasied about galloping my own dream horse along a glittering shoreline, on an island we were marooned on together. What horse crazy girl and boy hasn’t? Of course, back then my dream horse was a dappled grey mare with a big blaze down her face.

Watching “The Black Stallion “ again was nostalgic not only because it was a series I grew up loving, but also because it reminded me of how much I breathed and lived horses back then. Finally my dad gave in one year and put me in riding lessons. I think I was seven or eight. It’s funny how quickly I forgot the Black and my dream mare when my instructor put me on Homer within a few months of my first lesson. He was not a pretty horse. Odd angles, big feet and a roman nose in a plain bay wrapping. Homer was also old and grumpy, but for whatever reason I loved him the best. I would have traded all the pretty horses to have him. He taught me how to post at the trot, pick up the correct lead at the canter and steer into the corners on every turn. He had slow rhythmic gaits that made me feel safe, but he wasn’t so easy a ride that I was ever bored.

I’ve ridden many horses in the thirteen years that I have been riding. A lot of lesson horses, some of my trainer’s horses, and a few of my friend’s horses, but the fondest memories I have of any of them are of Homer, the horse I learned the most on. I’m betting many of you have also had a favorite horse in your lifetime and it wasn’t because he was a pretty black stallion or she, a dappled grey mare. I have a feeling the horses we love the most are the ones that have found their way into our hearts through the connection they have with us and because they have taught us something important.

  • andrewhyde

    That movie has stuck with me over the years, worth a rewatch over the holidays!

  • Kitzel Ruth

    What a great childhood memory… I think I watched that every year as a little girl!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pat-Hawk/100000606399954 Pat Hawk

    Thinking about this: I think I’ll donate some time to the local horse rescue for my New Year’s Resolution.

  • Bailey Brown

    An amazing story!! You have an incredible way of putting memories and dreams into illustrative words, so it feels like I am traveling back in time and experiencing it myself. I love reading your column. Can’t wait for the next one :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Granny.Ashcroft Heather Ashcroft

    We had a 12hh blue roan pony at the riding school when i was a kid ( 50+ years ago!!) He had a crooked spine and the saddle never sat straight on him. He didn’t seem to have any pain problems with it but he was challenging to ride as you always felt off centre. He was the most popular pony at the school!! And you had to book well ahead to get Bilba, Nothing to look at but such a sweet nature!