While horses have been used throughout history as a friend and mode of transport to man, not all horses have a myth or legacy. Certain horses however, horses who have performed unbelievable feats or simply been in the right place at the right time, have become the protagonists of folk tales that continue to be passed down thought he ages. Here are some of those horses, and their stories.
In this inventive 1877 English novel, a horse named Black Beauty narrates the tale. Throughout the book, Beauty tells his life story, from being born on an English farm, to his move to London where he pulled taxi cabs. The story teaches lessons in animal welfare through the life-like narration of Black Beauty and the many good and terrible people he encounters throughout his life.
This huge, black horse belonged to Alexander the Great and helped him during his campaigns in Persia. The legend goes that Alexander was given the horse at age 13, because no one else was able to tame the wild beast. Alexander promised that he would pay the asking price, should he be unable to break him. Alexander succeeded in taming him, and Bucephalus became his life-long partner.
If you haven’t seen the major motion picture about Seabiscuit, then you probably don’t know his inspiring tale. This thoroughbred horse was born in the ’30s, during the height of the Great Depression. As a colt, he was weak, small, and prone to napping for long periods. When Seabiscuit got hooked up with the right trainer, Tom Smith, he shed his not-so-brilliant past and became an incredibly successful race horse. The horse’s early trials and later success became a symbol of hope for many people during the depression.
Don’t let this horse’s humble name fool you. In 1901, this former milk-wagon horse became used as a vessel for producing diphtheria antitoxin serum, which was then distributed as a vaccine to the public. Unfortunately, after Jim contracted tetanus, his era as a boon to public health was over, and he had to be put down.
Old Billy is the longest lived horse on record. Born in England in the 1760s, he lived until the ripe old age of 62. During his lifetime, Billy was used to pull barges up and down the English canals, before the rise of steamboats. His taxidermied head can be seen on display at the Bedford Museum in England.