Video: Who Was Really the Horse of the Year?

by Fran Jurga | 28 December 2009 | The Jurga Report at

Who was the headline horse of 2009? Was the “horse of the year” really a choice between dressage superstars Ravel and Moorlands Totilas or between Thoroughbred speed queens Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra? Or was it simply about recognizing that this year’s top newsmaker was a horse without a name, a face and, most of all, without a home?

I think you will agree that the true horse of the year was the horse in need. Whether found matted and muddy at Nebraska’s Three Strikes Ranch or chewing tree bark in a paddock at New York racing owner Ernie Paragallo’s Thoroughbred breeding farm, the horse-in-need story made headlines, again and again.

Just when you thought a story couldn’t be any grislier, no horse could endure more abuse, we’d have the next story come in from the Associated Press. A raid on the Arabber horses in Baltimore. The stranded pack horses in the snow in British Columbia. That elusive herd of drifter horses in a Florida swamp. Hundreds of racehorses looking for second careers. Hundreds of wild horses driven down from the Wyoming mountains by BLM helicopters.

The Humane Society of the United States made a little video, really a fundraising appeal, featuring one of the many horses rescued from Three Strikes Ranch. They gave him a name. They found him a home. He’s one lucky horse among hundreds and hundreds.

How many of those other horses in all those other stories had names? But how could you forget any of them? The horse in need was my horse of the year. Their stories will haunt me long after the glorious memories of the champions fade.

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