200 – Horses in Fiction

The Mythcreant Podcast
Everyone knows that the chosen one must have a chosen horse, a beast so noble and strong of will that no other warrior can ride it. Or maybe not? It turns out that horses are complicated animals, and they don’t always go along with human plans. Fortunately, we have special guest Kathy Ferguson here to talk horse-shop with us today. We’ll look at some common misconceptions about horses, what it’s like to train a horse, using horses in battle, and of course, elephants. For some reason.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Horse Gait

War Horse

Black Beauty

The Black Stallion

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

My Friend Flicka


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  1. Lizard with Hat

    I read “Heroes in Fiction” and was excited about the podcast – than I saw it was about “Horses in Fiction” and it’s even more interesting now

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      We dream of a day when the horse *can* be the the hero. Other than in Tangled, that is.

      • Lizard with Hat

        Would “My little Pony: Friendship is Magic” count? I know ponies aren’t horses but still equine – and the ponies are more of than not portrait as equine beings.

        An unrelated question: What are the asterisks in –> *can* for? What’s does that mean?

        • Oren Ashkenazi

          MLP is certainly about horses, though they’re heavily anthropomorphized horses, so your mileage may vary. The asterisks are just a way of creating emphasis in a text format where italics or bold font is a pain.

          • Lizard with Hat

            Ah, I see thanks for the explanation

            I would add though that the MLP-Ponies, while anthropomorphic, they are to a far lesser degree than other fantasy animals, which are basically humans in animal form. The ponies, at least in MLP:FiM are often very horselike in their behavior, but yes it is somewhat inconsistent.
            …but admittedly the Twilight Sparkle and Company look like Dogs with Cat-Ears (without mane and tail, that is)
            And yes, the horse form Tangled was awesome (the cute chameleon too )

  2. Fay Onyx

    I really loved this episode! Great information presented in a clear way.

    I once went to a panel about Horses in Fiction that was supposed to teach us about things people get wrong in representing horses, but it wasn’t very good and I left it barely more informed than I was when I started it (I think they spent most of the time answering specific audience questions, rather than giving a proper overview of the subject). This episode was everything that panel was supposed to be and wasn’t. Thank you!

  3. Peter Molnár

    One great non-fiction book on the social, economic and military history and significance of horses from my neck of the woods is Kôň a človek v stredoveku (“Horse and Man in the Middle Ages”) by Slovak historian and non-fiction author Daniela Dvořáková. The first edition came out in 2007, and I just so happen to own it. While there is other good non-fiction on the historical usage and treatment of horses, this is still one of the best and most comprehensive books on the subject I’ve come across. It’s not a super-thick tome, but still quite a thick and very readable piece of non-fiction, and very, very detailed. Pity there’s no English translation yet, as far as I can tell. I think it could be a really useful read even for international audiences.

  4. Sonia

    Books that show horses realistically (including the “taming an untameable horse” trope) are the Hurog books by Patricia Briggs.

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