Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions that I know I’ll forget about before May, I like to do something a bit different this time of year. In the Northeast it’s hard to always be motivated between rain and snow, cold temperatures and mud. So, I like to go on a hunt for things that inspire me, keep me motivated to ride, work with my horse, and continue building on the bond and partnership that only horse people understand.
To help keep you motivated in 2019 too, here’s a list of 19 of the best horse videos to watch for inspiration in the year ahead. Listed in no particular order we won’t discriminate here in this list based on breed or discipline — we’ve included everything from stories of wild mustangs, to western rodeos all the way to tales of the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.
Watch and enjoy on your way to a great 2019!
1. American PHaroah – A Horse of A Lifetime
After 37 years of waiting, racing fans had longed to hear it: American Pharoah had won the Triple Crown. This is the story of the colt who brought an end to the longest Triple Crown drought in the sport’s history. What more can we say about the horse who ended the doubts of many and in doing so, ran straight into the history books? Relive all the glory of the 12th ever Triple Crown winner right here.
2. Hall of Fame Jockey Victor Espinoza’s Recovery
For the jockey of the first Triple Crown winner in more than 30 years, it seemed after American Pharoah’s win that Victor Espinoza would have a comparatively quiet remainder of his career. That was until a Sunday morning in July of last year when the Hall of Famer was crushed by the sudden collapse of a horse, Bobby Abu Dhabi, who dropped dead of an apparent heart attack. Beneath the horse was the 5 foot 1 man, left with a broken neck but an untarnished spirit. This short interview produced by the San Diego Union-Tribune follows Victor on his road to recovery. Mr. Espinoza made his return to the saddle this past week at Santa Anita.
3. California Fires: The Aftermath
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking, tragic and compelling stories this past year were those of survivors of the California wildfires, among them, dozens and dozens of horses. This video, while short, tells the incredible story of those survivors and the kindness and generosity they encountered amid the tragedy.
4. stories of greatness: Martha Josey
Unless you’re a barrel racer, a western gamer, or an avid fan of the National Finals Rodeo who’s also older than 35, you’ve probably never heard of Martha Josey. As one of the narrators at the beginning of this short film says, “It takes a legend to make the National Finals Rodeo for four decades in a row.” That legend is Martha Josey. A world champion barrel racer and instructor, Martha Josey is a real life western Cinderella story whose family is responsible for bringing some of the first quarter horses to Texas. As Martha tells the story, she went to a rodeo as a teenager and decided then and there, she was going to make a career as a cowgirl in the infancy of the barrel racing age. Despite the death of her father at just 10 years old and a house fire during her senior year in high school, Josey rebounded and went on to have perhaps the most prolific career of any female rodeo rider ever winning at one point 52 consecutive races between 1964-67. Girls, watch and learn and enjoy.
5. 500 Miles – The Story of Ranchers and Horses
Trail riders, horse people, veterans, mustang fans, anyone looking for a feel good story… this is a must watch. This short film is the story of Horses & Heroes, an organization dedicated to training and re-homing mustangs to retired U.S. veterans across the country. As part of the training process, retired veterans learn how to handle and train wild mustangs and embark on a 500 mile journey through New Mexico and Arizona with their mustang trainees. It’s a beautifully shot story of how powerful, willing, and determined both humans and horses can be, especially those humans who’ve served in the military.
6. Simone Blum Becomes First Female World Jumping Champion at FEI World Equestrian Games 2018
History was made in Tryon, North Carolina, this year as Germany’s Simone Blum & her horse, DSP Alice, became the first ever female World Jumping Champion at the World Equestrian Games since it’s current format was introduced in 1990! Enjoy her stunning individual winning round from the final here.
7. HRTV Inside Information – Funny Cide
The story of coming close to winning a Triple Crown isn’t often a very inspiring one. Funny Cide’s is different, particularly for owners of retired racehorses. In 2003, Funny Cide gained national fame by becoming the first New York bred horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby. Purchased by a group of friends from Sackets Harbor, NY, just a stone’s throw away from where I grew up, they bought the gelding Funny Cide and watched him runaway with two thirds of the Triple Crown before losing by a few lengths in the Belmont. He went on to win another five graded stakes before winning his final race and retiring at Finger Lakes Racetrack. But Funny Cide’s story doesn’t end there. Today, Funny Cide remains at the track as a stable and pony horse, watching other horses run the ground that he once dominated. It’s the remarkable true story of luck and the heart of a thoroughbred racehorse.
8. Chase a Wild Buffalo Stampede With These Heroic Cowboys
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of being a cowboy and riding on the open plains of the wild west or through the Rocky Mountains by horseback, this is just plain epic. The Medano-Zapata Ranch is more than 100,000 sprawling acres in south central Colorado. In partnership with the Nature Conservancy, one of the largest conservation organizations in the world, the Zapata Ranch is home to one of the largest remaining herds of bison in the United States. This is team penning, ranch sorting, and every cow working kind of game times 10 and rolled together into a short film featuring America’s legendary bison and set against the backdrop of Colorado’s wild west.
9. Runhappy: The Documentary
Everyone loves an underdog. This is the lesser known story of Champion Sprinter Runhappy. In his maiden breaking racing at Turfway Park, Runhappy broke out of the gate dead last. Through the first furlong, Runhappy wasn’t even on the television monitors, when suddenly a nose, then a body, and then a bay horse went streaking along the inside rail to the front of the pack. This is the story of the unlikely hero, Runhappy, and his unlikely hero owners in the wake of the devastating floods in Houston during the floods of 2017.
10. A Day in the Life of Georgina Bloomberg
Even if you’re not a horse person, many of you probably know Georgina Bloomberg’s father, Michael. Former First Daughter of New York City, Georgina Bloomberg’s career has focused more on ponies than politics as she trains for Team USA at her immaculate stables in Wellington, Florida. She also has a pig who was rescued from New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy. In case you needed to know that.
11. 75 Year Old Clerk of the Course Chases down A Horse At CranBourne Turf Club
Calling all older riders! When you’re feeling like you can’t bring yourself to get on your horse – Watch this! Blink and you’ll miss it, in this clip that’s just under a minute in length, 75-year-old Clerk of the Course, Kevin Wynne, races out on horse to chase down a loose filly who’d thrown her jockey before taking off down the track. Speed, persistence, all at an age when most people are telling you to hang up your helmet. Cheers to you, Mr. Wynne, for getting the job done!
12. Bloodline: The Search for Speed
This 10 minute short film explores what breeders have always sought to do — isolate speed in the breeding of horses. And isolate these genetics they do with the identification of the so-called “speed gene” for the first time in history. Learn more by watching this short film!
13. Stories of Greatness: Kiaran McLaughlin, Horse Trainer
Kiaran McLaughlin is a world class thoroughbred trainer of the same caliber as some of his more well known colleagues like Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher. Needless to say, this trainer is just plain inspirational, no matter how you look at him. He’s trained numerous graded stakes winners and a handful of Triple Crown contenders, including 2016’s Mohaymen. When people ask him with astonishment and ask him, “You have to get up at 4:30 and 5 every day?” he responds, “No, I get to get up at 4:30 and go to work with some great people and great horses and do what I love to do every day.” We can all learn a lesson from McLaughlin in how to carry ourselves as humans and pursue the things we love.
14. Where Do Racehorses Go?
If you’re the owner of a former racehorse, you know the common question. Of tens of thousands of horses bred for a singular purpose — winning the Kentucky Derby — only one horse wins it and what happens to the thousands of others? The world of thoroughbred racing has traditionally been a harsh one for unproductive, poor performing horses. Thanks to non-profit organizations like the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Retired Racehorse Project, more and more awareness is being raised for these equine athletes.
15. Zenyatta – Kentucky Life
Few horses in the thoroughbred racing industry are remembered for almost running an entire career without losing. Those horses wouldn’t be named Zenyatta. Zenyatta was the exception to seemingly every rule as a powerful filly who won 19 consecutive races, being beat only in final race by a horse aptly named Blame. Following her illustrious career, Zenyatta retired to Keeneland to become a broodmare.
16. Life Off the Tracks: Retired Racehorses Get a 2nd Chance
This ABC News segment features a farm and an unlikely cast of characters. About 80 miles north of New York City, retired racehorses are given a second chance from an unexpected group of men – prison inmates. From drug dealers to violent offenders, these inmates find a source of peace in handling and caring for horses at this farm in Walkill, NY. While short, this segment is incredibly powerful.
18. A Day in The Life of Cian O’Connor
If you watched the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, this year, you probably watch Cian O’Connor do his thing. This short film follows Cian on a day in the life while he competes in two international grand prix events in a single day.
17. Stories of Greatness: Michele McLeod, Barrel Racing
Michele McLeod isn’t exactly a household name. That is unless you follow the National Finals Rodeo. After moving to Texas in 2005, McLeod and her horse, Slick, were on their way to becoming a dominate force in the NFR when McLeod was seriously injured while loading her other horse, Sky, on a trailer. With a shattered face and a number of facial reconstruction surgeries later, including metal plates in her cheek, McLeod and her daughters are back in the saddle riding the horse that injured her. Watch their incredible story here.
19. Inside My Stable: Karl Cook & Kaley Cuoco
Whether you’re a fan of the U.S. Equestrian team, the Big Bang Theory, or if you’re just on the hunt for some serious 2019 “barn goals” you can start prepping for 2019 by watching this tour of Pomponio Ranch. This barn is beautiful enough that (not a joke) these two lovebirds actually got married at the facility last summer. Either way, this has to be one of the most beautiful facilities I’ve ever seen!