march madness 2017

Round 1, Match 6: Brego v Merrylegs

First, the results from Round 1, Match 4, Smoky v Sleipnir:


I have to say, that was the first one that really surprised me. Possibly because I have never read the Smoky books and I’m married to a Swede.
Round 1, Match 5, Beauty v Pegasus, is still going on and it’s not terribly tight but you still have time to get your vote in!
Here’s today’s match.
Round 1, Match 6

Brego v Merrylegs

Not a ton in common between these two!
In Brego, we have our first purely cinematic horse. Created by Peter Jackson for his film trilogy, Brego belonged to the prince of Rohan, Theodred, before he was killed. After a period wild with grief, he chooses to become Aragorn’s horse, and carries the King of Gondor through to the end of the story.
[please note the egregious error I made in not including Shadowfax in the initial seeding round; Brego will have to stand in for him as well as other LOTR horses like Bill, Asofel, etc., hi, I’m a dork.]
Merrylegs, from Black Beauty, is the quintessential children’s pony. Steady, cheerful, wise, and with just enough sass to keep everyone on their toes.
Who will advance?
I mean we could just do a “horses ridden in a sexy manner by Viggo Mortensen” tournament next year and give me loads of excuses to post pictures like this.

If memory serves, those kids get dumped two seconds later.

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march madness 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 5: Beauty v Pegasus

Round 1, Match 4 – Sleipnir v Smoky – is still going on and it’s competitive, so make sure you vote!

On to…

Round 1, Match 5

Beauty v Pegasus

Like the previous match, these two don’t have much in common. They both start literary, but they’ve also both had their share of film appearances. Other than that, they’re pretty much black and white. Literally.
Beauty is the eponymous star of possibly the best horse book of all time (I’ll fight you over that), Black Beauty. His story shows the horrible fates waiting for horses in Victorian England, though his is eventually a happy ending.
Pegasus is the equine star of the best mythology of all time. (I’ll fight you over that one, too.) He’s captured by the greek hero Bellerophon, who rides him to defeat the three-headed Chimera. (Also, if you want to laugh really hard, his Wikipedia article has an actual pedigree chart for him and it’s amazing.)
Who’ll it be? These are two of the most well-known archetypes in the equine fiction world, so choose wisely.

The cover of my favorite copy of Black Beauty

Pegasus. There are a LOT of slightly weird images of pegasii on Google Images.

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march madness 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 4: Smoky v Sleipnir

First, to announce our winners over the weekend.

Round 1, Match 2: Flicka!

Round 1, Match 3: Hidalgo!

And now…

Round 1, Match 4

Smoky v Sleipnir

I am hard-pressed to find any similarities between our two contenders today. Their names start with the same letter? They’re both sort of literary? That’s all I’ve got.
Smoky is a sort of Western Black Beauty, living the hardships of the American West through his life, passing through many hands and many circles before ending up with his beloved first owner again.
Sleipnir is an eight-legged steed sired by the magical stallion Svaoilfari on the god Loki in mare form. He’s the favored steed of Odin and is frankly kind of terrifying.


Odin on Sleipnir (concept art from Thor)

The choice is pretty stark, and I’m curious to see how this one goes!

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march madness 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 3: Hidalgo v Joey

Onward and upward! Round 1, Match 2 voting is open through midnight tonight, and it’s a tight race between Flicka and Artax, so make sure you cast your vote!

First, to announce the winner of Round 1, Match 1:

The Pie!

And now, on to…

Round 1, Match 3

Hidalgo v Joey

Interesting matchup here – two fictional horses based clearly in historical circumstances! Other than that, these two are pretty different.
Both do come from books – Hidalgo is based on the writings of Frank Hopkins, which may or may not be mostly made up. Joey is the main character of the YA book War Horse. Both horses have extraordinary journeys, and are much the worse for the wear at various points. Both are eventually reunited with their owners.
Hidalgo, though, is a mustang; Joey is (presumably) a decently bred English saddle horse. And though they both got big budget Hollywood films, Hidalgo’s was arguably better. It definitely had a hotter protagonist.
Joey is much more of an everyman horse, and his job is to show us our humanity as we learn about his troubles. His story is arguably more textured, and the acclaimed stage show shows some of that texture: it’s a relatable story set amidst the horror of war, about larger forces out of anyone’s control.
Viggo Mortensen & Hidalgo
yes, please

Albert & Joey
Who will advance?

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march madness 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 2

Round 1, Match 1 will go until midnight tonight, but in order to get all of these out of the way, we’re going to have to move quickly through round 1.


Round 1, Match 2

Flicka v Artax

Another day, another set of contenders who originated in literature and had beloved movies. For both of them, their onscreen incarnations might actually be more famous than their literary versions.
Both are light-colored, both are beloved by young boys. For both, my enduring mental image is of them sick, injured, dying – and down, with their boys urging them to live. (Some of us have never gotten over the Swamp of Sadness, OKAY?)
(no seriously fuck that movie. not that i’m trying to influence voting, but fuck that movie forever.)
(also speaking of terrible movies, for the purposes of this contest, we’re going with OG Flicka, Ken’s Flicka, chestnut mare Flicka, not the weird black stallion version from the new movie that only shares a name with the book)

Ken & Flicka
Atreyu & Artax
Who will it be?
Once you’ve voted, make sure to enter the Rafflecopter for this match.

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march madness 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 1


First, an announcement: not a single brave soul took me up on option b, so we’re scrapping that.

I still want to give prizes, though! Let me give you cool stuff!

SO. Each round will have its own prize. A Rafflecopter will run through the duration of each round, and you’ll get entries for voting & for sharing the contest. At the end of each round, I’ll draw, and then we’ll start a new contest.

Round 1 prize is: a $10 Riding Warehouse gift card + Riding Warehouse saddle pad!

Round 1, Match 1

The Pie v The Colt from Old Regret

This is getting serious right off the bat! Who will win? 
There are some interesting similarities between these two: they both started as beloved literary creations, one from a book and one from a poem. Both are nominally part of the British Empire. Both got spectacular, classic, beloved films.
There are also some pretty clear differences. The Pie didn’t need to be tamed; he needed to be trained, and the culmination of his story was to take the ultimate amateur to the ultimate professional’s test in the Grand National.
The colt needed to be tamed, by a quiet professional, and his story arc ends with him trying to escape the humans, not cooperate with them.
Elizabeth Taylor playing Velvet Brown with The Pie
Random actor in a touring show playing Jim Craig and the Colt from Old Regret

Who will move on to the next round?

Once you’ve voted, enter for Round 1, Match 1!

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march madness 2017

March Madness 2017 Bracket!


The poll results are in, and we’re ready to start voting next Wednesday, March 1.

In order, our seeds are:

The Pie, from National Velvet
Beauty, from Black Beauty
The Black, from Walter Farley’s Black Stallion
Hidalgo, from the movie of the same name
Sleipnir, from Norse mythology
Ashleigh’s Wonder, from the Thoroughbred series
Merrylegs, from Black Beauty
Artax, from The Neverending Story
Flicka, from My Friend Flicka
Brego, from Lord of the Rings
Flame, from Walter Farley’s Black Stallion
Smoky the Cowhorse, from the Smoky the Cowhorse book series
Joey, from War Horse
Angus, from Brave (Disney movie)
The Colt from Old Regret, from The Man from Snowy River
SO, what are our next steps?

You can participate in this tournament in one of two ways.
1. Just follow along and vote and root for your favorite horse. All that means is you check back here regularly and keep voting!
2. Create your own bracket for a little skin in the game. Originally, I thought that the winner might get the cash pool but it turns out that’s kind of illegal and also not easy to manage – it would mean you would all have to give me the money and I’d have to keep it and there were no easy online tools to do that.
So here’s plan b: you donate an entry fee to a GoFundMe account. At the end of the tournament, all of that money is donated to the winner’s equine-related charity of choice AND the winner gets a bunch of awesome prizes. Now, I don’t know what those are yet, so consider this my recruitment post: do you have something you want to offer as a prize for our contest? If you donate something, then I will waive your entry donation for the tournament.
Our first prize is one that I will put up: a custom quarter sheet, made to the colors/pattern of your choice and your horse’s measurements! I’ll do a roundup post soon when I’ve collected more prizes.
If you want to create your own bracket, here are your steps.
a. Donate a sum of money (minimum $5) to our Equine Charity GoFundMe account.
b. Save the bracket image above and make your predictions; use MS paint or something else to fill in who you think will win each match, and ultimately the whole tournament
If you want to enter everything from scratch and use an easier tool, here’s a bracket PDF; you can use a screenshot to save it as an image.
c. Email your completed bracket to I will then post it on our tournament page for everyone else to see that you’ve officially entered, and link back to your blog. I’ll also double-check at that time to make sure that you’ve made a donation to officially enter.
march madness 2017

March Madness 2017: Seeding Competitors

Here is the exhaustive list of nominated competitors for Best Fictional Horse Ever.

Please choose six from the list below.

All votes will be tallied up; the top 16 will become part of the tournament, and will be seeded according to their vote count.

This list was created from your suggestions and then added by me trolling the amazing Wikipedia article of fictional horses, where you should go if you want to lose a few hours of time.

I know it’s long, but it’s going to make an awesome tournament!

Voting will close at midnight on 2/24, and I’ll seed the winners according to the number of votes they get, with ties broken at my discretion. The bracket will then appear on Friday, February 25, for us to get our own brackets ready!

march madness 2017

Reminder: keep proposing fictional horses!

Tomorrow I’ll run the poll that will seed our competitors for March Madness 2017, but in the meantime, there’s still some time left to suggest competitors!

You can suggest as many as you want, so name away!

I also wanted to open up for discussion an excellent point that Lauren made in the comments on my original post: should we consider Misty of Chincoteague fictional? I had listed her as such in my initial post but Lauren pointed out that she was based on a real horse.

I think there’s an interesting argument for the book-version of Misty being very different from real-life Misty, and she might still qualify, but I’m willing to be persuaded in either direction. What do you think?