THE YEAR THAT WASN’T

2020 in one picture. Photo by BAR XP PHOTO.

BY JENN WEBSTER

As we approach the end of 2020 and reflect back, it’s crazy to think about the events of the past year. In fact, some of the events were the strangest of the strange… Yet, what might be even odder is the notion that we began to accept them as normal, almost cliché. “Well, it is 2020 after all…” became catchphrase. With that in mind, here are five of the strangest happenings we noticed in the horse world this year.

  1. GIRL JUMPS LIKE A HORSE – Yes, you read that correctly. Ava Vogel, an Edmonton, AB, teenager made international news this year when she was scouted by Ripley’s Believe It or Not for its newest book. On her hands and feet, Vogel can gallop and hurdle over obstacles and mimic a horse. The highest she’s jumped is almost four feet in height. And if you don’t believe us, find her on Instagram @jumping.like.a.horse.
From the Instagram feed of @jumping.like.a.horse.
  1. HORSES USED IN PROTESTS – It’s not uncommon for horses to be used in protests. For ages, they have been ridden by mounted police during riots and demonstrations. They offer added height and visibility that officers wouldn’t normally have on their own two feet and as such, allow people in the wider area a better chance to visualize the police. However, the recent use of equines by demonstrators in civil rights protests across the US this year have flipped the mounted police narrative on its head. Black cowboys and cowgirls showed up on horseback in several demonstrations fighting for racial justice. Their equine partners gave them the edge they needed, capturing the attention of media, celebrities and inspiring the general public across the globe.
From the Twitter feed of Lil Nas X. Black Lives Matter protesters caught the celebrity’s attention when they rode into downtown Houston on horseback.
  1. FRANCE’S EQUINE MUTILATIONS – Since the start of the year, France has experienced numerous horse slashings across the country. Some animals have been mutilated, while others have died as a result of injuries. The national police confirmed in a press release that almost 200 investigations were in progress as we neared the end of 2020. With no suspects, nor motives for the atrocious acts, horse owners began to take matters into their own hands by using drones to supervise pastures at night, installing electrified gates and surveillance cameras and placing locks wherever needed. Increased police efforts were also been made, including an agreement between horse organizations in the country and authorities to reinforce efforts in the prevention of attacks against horses in the country.

  1. NO DERBY SPECTATORS – For the first time since the 1945 Kentucky Derby was affected by World War II, Churchill Downs was forced to move the 2020 Kentucky Derby from its historical first Saturday in May, to September 5, due to the pandemic. Officials also ran the event without spectators, citing increasing cases of COVID-19 in the area – making it the first ever Kentucky Derby to run without fans.

  1. COWBOY SECURITY INFLUENCES THE WORLD – When the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, closed down earlier this year, they decided to put their head of security, Tim Send, in charge of social media. The decision proved to be a brilliant one as Send, who was unfamiliar with Twitter, Instagram and selfies at the time, struggled hilariously through posts and tweets. With access to the entire museum on his own, Send captured the hearts and attention of the world with his innocent approach to the internet – becoming an international social media darling in the process.

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