War horses and barbed wire

War Horse was a good movie. In fact, it has been nominated for Best Picture in the upcoming Academy Awards. Like many of those involved in agriculture, I like movies that include farm animals, so of course I had to see this one. Without giving too much away to those who haven’t seen it, the horse overcomes numerous horrific hardships before and during the First World War. But after seeing it, everyone I’ve talked to who knows anything about horses has the same thing to say: barbed wire is a lot more dangerous than depicted.

Maybe I am giving things away, but by way of explanation, there is one scene where the horse, Joey, essentially freaks out over a particular war-induced trauma and races through the barbed wire of no man’s land, dragging heavy objects as he goes. When rescued, the horse’s major complaint is a barely visible leg injury.

I’ve seen the ravages barbed wire inflicts on a running horse, one that wasn’t necessarily panicked or dragging wooden spools behind it. And the injuries were awful; deep, bloody cuts that took many weeks to heal.

But hey, it was a movie. Creative licence has been taken, and thankfully so, because cuts sustained in that kind of situation would have been too graphic for a PG rating.

The New York Times recently ran a feature about the horse used in the movie and it’s a tribute to a horse finding its calling. “Joey” in the movie is played by Finders Key, a Thoroughbred gelding that had little success on the racetrack. In fact, he was a loser.

But the camera loves him and he seems to love the camera. Finders Key was one of the horses who played Seabiscuit in the movie of that name, and was also in The Legend of Zorro, according to The Times.

He has his own Facebook page and some other movie appearances in the works. He lives — where else? — in California. And it’s a darned good thing he doesn’t have to deal with barbed wire on a regular basis.

 

 

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