Horse News

“War Horse” Message Touches the Heart of America

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Sacrifice of the Horse has made this Country Great

“I have never seen a picture or a statue of a famous war hero riding a pig or cow into battle but the horse has always been there.”

The other day I finally had the opportunity to watch War Horse and was lucky enough to do so with my wife and her parents; the resulting afterglow yielded ample rewards.

My in-laws were not horse people until Terry and I got hitched; not that I brought horses with me into the relationship but I did bring the means that allowed Terry to live her dream, and her parents were there, in Brazil, when she was given Apache the Mongalarga Marchador who now lives with us in Texas.  My in-laws were hooked and always insist on taking care of the “GrandAnimals” when we travel.  So the invitation for a movie and a dinner was quickly accepted with great relish.

We attended a Monday afternoon matinee for not only the rock-bottom price of the tickets but because we knew that there would be few patrons present to distract us.  And we were right, there were only 9 total, including us, but one felt that she was above the rules and not only left her cell phone on but answered it in the middle of the movie.  I activated my death ray and vaporized her, immediately…in my mind.

We quietly left the movie with a few conciliatory comments about it and moseyed on to a nearby restaurant; once seated the conversation became rather lively and I was sincerely most entertained.

Terry’s folks are no strangers to our years long fight against the cruel and predatory business of horse slaughter and they watch our four legged children when we are off being the voice for the last of our free roaming wild horses and burros, but the movie War Horse touched them in a way that we have not been able to get close to and it showed, plenty.

There is a brief scene in the movie where a local, European butcher attempts to buy the equine war hero for his meat and it is nothing more than a few bids back and forth at an auction but it was enough to light a fire under the seats of my in-laws as they commented on their new found energy against the perverse evil of horse slaughter.  Statements began to fly and as they did I simply sat back and quietly sipped my cool glass of American Chardonnay and smiled.

“How could anyone eat a life long friend that had provided so much service and love, it would be like eating your dog, cat, or ole grandpa for that matter.”

“I have never seen a picture or a statue of a famous war hero riding a pig or cow into battle but the horse has always been there.”

“This country was truly founded on the back of the horse.”

So I ordered another glass of wine.  It was a unique and special experience watching that light of awareness come on and I didn’t even have to open my mouth, Steven Spielberg had done the talking for me and it was obvious that he made the point.

I revel in the message that the movie delivers and do not extoll it for it’s commercial enterprise.  As pro-horse advocates we truly need to embrace this gift from Hollywood and allow it to begin a dialogue and open conversations with people who have never even considered the trauma, pain and suffering that the American equine endures under the strangle hold of only a few.  It’s time to make those twisted few go away and it is also time to forever elevate the horse to the true position that it has earned in this country as a friend, a colleague and a partner in the building of a nation that believes in freedom and liberty for all.

Let us endeavor to extend that freedom and liberty to the very symbol of those words, the American Equine, after all, it is the very least that we can do.

May the Force of the Horse be with you.

22 replies »

  1. My understanding is we sent 2 Million AMERICAN MUSTANGS over there only 200 came back. To thank them we turned millions more into Kennel Ration, and continue to round them to make profit for the wranglers and cattlemen until the inexhaustible supply of our most precious living symbol is gone forever. Thank god we do have the movies to help us remember but he will never forgive us for destroying his most wonderful gift to our nation.


  2. I think this film is going to wake up the American people to the fact that these horses died to keep them free. Let us hope that they are willing to do the same. I currently have a petition asking Mr. Spielberg to put a PSA on his DVDs. Can you help me get the word out on this? I have asked John Holland, Vicki Tobin at EWA, Ginger Katherns, Cloud Foundation and Ms Suzanne Roy at American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign to assist in getting the signatures in order that we can show solidarity of this issue. I think that would help in getting the message across as well.


  3. Hopefully your in-laws will help spread the word.

    RT….do you have “law” on the brain? Don’t you mean “statue” (carved figure) versus “statute” (law)? Is your Freudian Slip showing? 😉


  4. One can only hope that the people of this country get their head our of the sand and realize what a horrible, unnecessary , practice of sending our wonderful horses to the barbaric death they are dealt ..and protest the reopening of these death plants that are for no other reason then to satisfy the ever growing population of stupid people we now have in our government.. who for some unknown reason think this will be job creator???? please send the message that this is not the jobs we need to create here…what will be next,,, puppy and kitten kitchens to reduce the overpopulation of these animals??? Our country is slipping backwards to becoming a third world…not a leader and a model that shows we do care about how our animals are treated…Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is..whether its victim is animal or human, we cannot expect things to be much better in this world…..


  5. I apologize for derailing things for a moment. Laura has her lawsuit going forth. Is she scheduled to go before Judge McKibben tomorrow? If so, how do we find this courthouse? And what time is the hearing?

    Right now 80 is clear so I’m free to go if I can get it together…it’s about a4 hr drive both ways…


  6. The only award we could give to the friendly pig and the humble cow, would be their eternal contribution to the global bellies of mankind as we know it. The dairy cow being the most overworked animal on the planet. Like herself and the pig we take them for granted, the main source of the food chain. Cattle did however, serve in warfare over the centuries, hauling food and other supplies connected with the military. Yes tens of thousands of American and Canadian Horses and mules did serve impeccably for the British army in The Great war between 1914-18 although we stopped purchasing them in 1917, when the US came into the war. Thousands more horses and mules were shipped over to Britain and then to France and Belgium for the sole use of the American Expeditionary Force. Not only did all these fine animals represent, and serve my country but yours and Canada also. American horses and mules were also purchased by the British army for the Boer War in Africa, before The Great War. Never before has man heavily relied upon millions of animals which also included dogs and pigeons, as he did in 1914-18 for world democracy. Steven Spielberg only touched on a small part of horse suffering in War Horse and we should be extremely grateful for the awareness brought about, no matter how little it was. The two horse award winning performers in the movie in my view, did us proud and the world is now talking about animal suffering in warfare. I for one hopes the talking and education will continue up to, and well after the Centennial of World war one in 2014. It will be interesting to see how each country, commemorates the Centenary, and you can bet I for one, will be observing. Interesting read at ‘Tribute to Horses and Mules the part They played in the Annals of Military History’ Sadly, the butchers did get their barbaric mitts on some horse soldiers during, and at the end of the war. They claimed the people were starving. The soldiers were gutted when they took their horses. I saw War Horse twice and I heard a man break down and cry at my first showing. God bless you Steven for hitting home.


    • Dear Lynn, I agree with all , and mostly with the two horses joey, and the other one the blk horse which in dont think they mentioned a name gave award winning performances without a doubt !!!! I have seen the movie twice,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


  7. Ditto to Arlene’s statment. We all will be praying that this judge has the moral ethics to apply the
    law as it should be applied. I think Mr. Spielberg not knowing is opening the eyes of the American people to the cruelty, inhumane treatment and terrible death of many American horses. The truth is coming out and I hope the roaches crawl back in their holes. Predators, parasites – All cowards looking to make that mighty buck off our wonderful horses. We are all the warriors for these beautiful creatures. Thank God someone is listening. Again, God speed RT, Laura and Mr Cowan
    as you meet the less desirables. I will be praying for the horses.


  8. Good article R.T.. I really enjoyed the account of how your in-laws were touched by the message of the movie. Am hoping to get a group of youth (and others) to go to see “War Horse” together. Most of our small community know of my incessant talks, challenges, rants calls, emails and “educating” in behalf of “saving the horses and burros”. Aren’t we all so thankful that such an enlightening and challenging movie came out of Hollywood, and not a moment too soon. In fact.. it was too late for so many… which breaks my heart, daily.

    Again.. as my rant has been so many times before.. We need to contact every elected employee of We The People, reminding them.. 2012 elections are coming up. THEY NEED TO LISTEN to the citizens and do the honorable thing, or they may be in for a great surprise in November. I’m well beyond the point of “no more mr. nice guy / ms. nice gal”. They need to know we will NOT take their pandering and waffling any more where it comes to saving our equine friends from suffering.

    Last night I spent the better part of 3 hours viewing clips on YouTube of various abuse and neglect, and transport to slaughter advocacy other parts of the world, some including World Horse Welfare rescues in the UK, others of horrific neglect and abuse of coal mine cart and gold cart horses in South Africa.

    Here is one of the clips, titled “Gruesome scene of horse suffering uncovered” where over 25 horses were rescued and many others found dead in a UK horse abuse case.

    Another of the worst cases – and I didn’t see anything about these being rescued – is the tragic situation of the Soweto Coal Cart Horses neglect / abuse.

    And the clip I was most impressed with was a wild herd roundup in the UK. See how well they handle the roundup, using horses and people on the ground, gentleness of knowledgeable horse wranglers, giving them rest in mid process. I was so thankful to see them taking the horses needs into consideration (unlike the terrorizing we know the BLM’s habit is).

    One fact that set my teeth on edge is that their concerns with regard to transporting horses to slaughter focuses only on the injuries and mal-treatment they suffer while in transport… but they’re NOT trying to STOP the brutalities of slaughter it’s self. GRRRRRR!!

    Just wanted to share some international stories with our horse/burro advocacy family here. Please visit the World Horse Welfare page on Facebook:

    And CONTACT those Reps, Senators, Governors!
    Email and Fax #s for U.S. Congress and Governors. ,
    Senators of 112th Congress.

    For the horses and burros
    Sue C


    • Sue C, who would have thunk – the BLM – could use retired and wounded vets to do a humane horse round up. Sure it would take more time and be better for the horses——-but just think of the job creation and a whole NEW business. The possiblitys could be endless.

      Now we just need to figure out a way to get Sun J and it’s handful of wranglers(I use the word losely) ~part of that good ole boy network~ to give up the millions they are getting.

      And since you like to view things on the internet of interest, I found a couple that should be a must see for everyone———–Meat the Truth—about the envirionmental impact the raising of cattle and the growing of food for cattle is having on the world. And Earthlings – The Documentary {this one is not for the faint of heart} both I found on youtube and there are 1 to 8 parts. I think you will find them informative.


  9. Most definately Arlene, Joey and the black horse gave the human actors a run for their money so to speak. I dont know the real life name of the black horse, but his character name was either Topthorn or Topform. This horse alone wreaked havoc on my heart. I concentrated more on the relationship between the two horses, more than on Joey and Albert’s relationship. Steven Spielberg deliberately allowed us to share their suffering and hardship as the war scenes developed. When the black horse went down, it was as if Joey was consoling his friend and saying, You will not die alone, for I am here, kind of thing. They really did convince me, that this was really happening, and not acted. Joey also gave true expressions with his eyes, this had to be natural and not trained. Personally speaking he was a star. The public can only come away and say, ‘my God Is this really what happened, and what a bloody shame’. It is appalling how we treat their descendents today. And yes, it did really happen and worse.


  10. I just lost an old horse–he was 35+, and age and ailments took their toll. It was time–and the promise was kept. He died here–where he was safe. The vet was wonderful, and his office sent a sympathy card. The men who removed the body gave me a copy of the “Rainbow Bridge”. Everyone was kind and respectful. What’s wrong with emotion and caring? Nothing. And don’t let anyone tell you different. Do you want to be cold and disconnected? We’re already dealing with that. Don’t ever go over to that side. That’s what War Horse was about— the promise of freedom and caring–for all–horses and humans–because we’re all in it together.


  11. It is said that in London one memorial to the War Horse reads——–” Most obediently and often most painfully they died—-faithful unto death”.

    Just about says it all about the horse in the world’s history ~ now is not the time for the world to abandon them.

    RT, Laura, and Mr. Cowan, may the force of the horse gallop at your side.


    • R.T. Your comments regarding Spielberg’s “War Horse” is right on. I received two movie tickets for Christmas since my friends know my love of horses and that I have saved three and have two more coming mid year. In reading the comments above, I hate to go since Lynn’s comment mentioned that a beautiful black horse goes down. I don’t think I could stay there watching the film as I would be crying too much. I can’t stand anyone harming these gorgeous icons that God has given us. As Lynn’s comment mentioned , Joey’s eyes gave true expressions. Yes, they do give expressions. It’s a shame that all humans don’t realize what they are missing in not having one of these gorgeous animals to call family and that they do have hearts, feelings, and feel pain. I hope this will be the year we can say “WE WON” over all atrocities over these beautiful gifts God has given us. GOod luck in your court hearing today.


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