I never liked horses when I was younger. I never wanted a My Little Pony. While all my friends sat around combing the teeny mane with those tiny yellow combs, I just snickered. I mean, the horse was blue. Or pink. Or lavender. And it didn’t even do anything. It just had hair that you could brush with a super tiny comb. I’d much prefer to comb the hair of my Barbie or of my Jenny or Mandy “My Friends” doll. At least that made sense. And then there was the summer I went to camp at Rawhide Ranch. No more purple horses with teeny-tiny manes. This was the real deal. I was pretty nervous about being at this camp because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about horses. But I was also sort of excited at the same time because I’d never ridden on a horse before. And… I never did afterward either. That was because about 2 minutes into my first ever ride on a horse, the horse went rogue. All of a sudden it just seemed to get angry (maybe I should have brought out the teeny-tiny comb? Or maybe it was also disappointed that video had killed the radio star?) and galloped away, throwing me off into a ditch. That was day one of camp. It was a really long week. And I really never liked horses after that.
Until I saw The Black Stallion. It was only then, when Alec and The Black were alone on that island, that I fell in love with horses. Maybe it was because The Black totally saved Alec. Or maybe it was how that friendship developed out of nothing more than trust and a belief in each other when both needed just that. Or maybe it was how Alec wandered all over town, not giving up until he found his horse. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but I fell in love. And then when I saw The Black Stallion Returns, I went head over heels. Along with Hoosiers, that is my tied-for-first #1 favorite movie. I’m pretty sure I know every line. When Alec whistles for The Black and he comes running to him, I cry. When Alec is about to win the race, I cry. And when Alec loves The Black enough to let him stay in Morocco, I really cry. And it’s not just The Black. Alec’s friend Raj has a horse, Sega, and I love him, too. When Alec tells Abu Ben Ishak that Sega is his friend’s horse and Abu Ben Ishak says, “your friend’s horse iiiis bad”, well, I cry then, too. I love The Black Stallion.
And so when War Horse came out, I couldn’t have been more excited. I even have a picture of me cuddling the cardboard cut-out of War Horse at a movie theater. Like The Black Stallion movies, War Horse wasn’t just a tearjerker. It was a tear tsunami. (Just ask Princess Kate…I heard she cried, too.) The horse just helped so many people. He helped a sickly, young girl and a few young soldiers. He also helped bring a British soldier and a German soldier together. And just like Alec, Albert will do anything to find his horse and bring him home. He enlists and endures the pain and terror of war just to find his horse. And Joey (the horse) even made a horse friend who looked exactly like The Black! A boy and his horse and a horse and his horse friend…such a great movie!
Oddly enough, in War Horse when Albert is reunited with his parents, my face couldn’t have been drier. But in the very same scene when Joey wanders up behind Albert, I nearly choked on the waterfall of tears. Same in The Black Stallion Returns. When Meslar supposedly dies, I’m not tearful at all. But when Alec sees The Black from afar and must let him go, I’m all waterworks. So it must be more than just the music (excellent in both films) or the idea of the lost being found. It really must be the horse. I don’t quite get it, since I’m not actually a big fan of horses, pink or real. But that’s just the way it is. I love my movie horses. Just like Princess Kate.