Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" raked in an impressive $15 million over the Christmas weekend and is shaping up to be a big hit for Disney/DreamWorks. The film tugs on our heartstrings by highlighting the love between a man, Albert, and his horse, Joey — a love so deep that Albert joins the service to get his horse back after it is sold to the cavalry.
But "War Horse" does much more. It reminds us of the role these majestic animals have played in the history of war. Horses were first used in warfare 5,000 years ago, and the cavalry was a cornerstone of warfare during World War I, the war featured in "War Horse." They were warriors and heroes. But audiences leaving theaters with a newfound appreciation for horses would be saddened to know just how far from grace these once-regaled heroes have fallen.
Today, commoditized by overbreeding to the point of being seen as virtually worthless, horses are sold to slaughter for pennies a pound. Even thoroughbreds, like Joey, often are sold for nearly nothing. The rest are simply left for dead by their owners, turned out to fend for themselves. Unable to turn our backs on a group of starving and abandoned horses, we founded Red Bucket Equine Rescue in 2009. Some days, the number of horses in the U.S. facing neglect, starvation or impending death seems insurmountable, but we press on — the horses need us and rely on us.