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.

Little Known Facts about the Kentucky Derby

A view from the first turn. I’ll Have Another is seen here in the middle of the pack. He shortly thereafter burst through and went on to win Kentucky Derby 138. CREDIT: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography.

 

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BY ESTEBAN ADROGUE

It’s Derby Day! And with that, we wanted to share with you 10 interesting facts about this wonderful event and the history behind it:

10 – Unfortunately, not everything in the world of racing is cheerful and exciting. In 1899, Meriwether Lewis Clark, founder of the Kentucky Derby, committed suicide just a few days prior the 25th running of this prestigious event.

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9 – In 1919, Sir Baron won the Derby, becoming the first winner in history of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (a term that didn’t become official until the 1930’s Derby, when the New York Times used it to describe the combined wins in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes).

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8 – The first network radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby took place on May 16th, 1925, with about 5 to 6 million thrilled fans tuning in for the anticipated race. Also, Bill Corum coined, for the very first time, the now well-known phrase: “Run For The Roses.”

Count Fleet before the race in 1943.

7 – Not even World War II could cause this beautiful sport to press pause. During 1943, regardless of the war-time restrictions, 65,000 fans gathered at Churchill Downs to see “Count Fleet” take the tittle home.

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6 – 1968 marked a turning point for the sport, as “Dancer’s Image” became the first winner to be disqualified. After the race, “Dancer’s Image” tested positive for an illegal medication. Thus, the purse was taken away from him and awarded to the second-place finisher.

Diane Crump.

5 – Stick it to the man! In 1970 Diane Crump became the first female jockey in history to ride in the Kentucky Derby race. Even though Crump finished 15th out 0f 18 horses, she sent a strong and clear message to everyone watching, and brought women to the forefront of horse racing.

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4 – During the 99th running of the Kentucky Derby, famous “Secretariat” won the race establishing the fastest finish time to date. He completed the race in just 1:59:40. Not only that, but “Secretariat” went on to win the Triple Crown, for the first time in 25 years. What an amazing athlete!

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3 – In 1977, Seattle Slew wins the Kentucky Derby and goes on to win the Triple Crown. He becomes the 10th Triple Crown winner, and only horse in history to achieve that tittle while remaining undefeated.

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2 – The early 2000s caused an array of emotions to the millions of fans all around the world. 2000 marked the third century in which the Kentucky Derby was run. Six years later, “Barbaro” would become the winner of the Kentucky Derby by six-and-a-half lengths, recording the largest victory since 1946. Unfortunately, Barbaro was injured a few weeks after, and passed away due to complications of that injury. He stole the hearts of millions of fans, and in his memory, a bronze statue was placed above his remains at the entrance of Churchill Downs Racetrack.

The finish line.

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1 – With the 143th edition of the Kentucky Derby happening today, we can’t help to look back to its very beginning and wonder; what makes the Kentucky Derby so special, so unique? It might be the fact of how little the event has change since its very first “Run For the Roses” back in 1875. As many other sports evolve and progress in many ways, the Thoroughbred Racing world has remained unchanged: same location, (Churchill Downs), same date (first Saturday in May), same breed and age (3 year old Thoroughbreds), and even similar fashion sensibilities. All these factors have shaped and molded the Kentucky Derby into what is today, and will help it withstand the test of time for many years to come.