They may entertain us, touch our hearts or inspire us, but deep down, we are judging them. That’s right, I’m back again with more Disney horses to analyze!
Part 1 included Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen. But there’s just so many horses to analyze, I couldn’t put them all in one post. So here’s more!
Did I miss your favorite? Let me know who else needs looking over!
Pegasus is a mythical creature, so really he could be any form at all. Looking at Pegasus’s conformation without the wings, he looks like he is modeled after one of the baroque breeds of horses – a group of breeds that includes Andalusian, Lipizzaner, and Lusitano. This breeds are usually well muscles, with thick necks, and very noble, impressive faces. They are known to be very pretty horses, so they are often used for movies.
But, they wouldn’t have existed when Hercules was around in real life. The baroque horses were developed in the 17th century.
The movie Hercules was based on legends of the mythical Hercules, hero of ancient Greece. Since they are stories, we really have no idea if he existed at all. Obviously not the magical parts, but it’s possible he was a real man, and the stories were embellished a bit. If he had existed, it would have been around 1200 BC. The baroque breeds definitely didn’t exist back then. Instead, the horses of that time period were smaller, with many pony breeds instead of large horses.
Now if we’re getting really picky, the real Pegasus myth didn’t involve Hercules at all. Pegasus had a delightful birthing story of being formed when Perseus cut off the head of Medusa. The blood mixed with the ocean, and that’s how you can make your own Pegasus at home. Pegasus then became the companion of Bellerophon, a totally different, unrelated person to Hercules.
Khan is the Fa’s family horse, who Mulan takes when she joins the army.
Mulan is set at an unknown time in Imperial China, but seems likely to be the Han Dynasty, which is 206 BC to 220 BC. During this time, there are records of an expedition to Ferghana to obtain, “Heavenly horses.” After a long siege, they managed to acquire 30 of them, as well as 3,000 horses of lower quality.
The Ferghana horses were popular for the next 1,000 years, and it would appear that Khan is based off of them. These horses were frequently used as the models for paintings and sculptures.
Also, they apparently “sweated blood.”
Would Mulan have one of these horses? Unless she was rich, probably not. The emperor had originally acquired these horses for satisfy his spiritual needs, so it seems unlikely they would just be passed out to the common people. They would be considered status symbols, and most, if not all, of them would be owned by the Emperor, or those in his circle. It seems unlikely that this type of horse would be with someone who has low rank.
By the way, if you like the story of Mulan, check out, I Rode a Horse of Milk-White Jade, which is similar but centers around horses. I loved this book when I was a kid, it was one of my favorites.
Shan Yu’s Horse
On the opposite side of Mulan is Shan Yu, the leader of the invading army, and seems inspired off of Attila the Hun, but much earlier than his time. They are called Huns in the movie, but the Huns were actually in a different location, located centrally between Europe and Asia. Before the Huns became official, they were actually known as the Xiongnu, who lived on the Mongolian Plateau, and did actually attack China during the Han Dynasty. Once they were defeated, they migrated to their central location, rebranded as The Huns, and that’s where bouncing baby boy Attila the Hun was born.
That’s probably way too much background, but what it comes down to is that Shan Yu’s horse would have been from Mongolia, and the movie portrays this very well. His horse would have been very typical of the horses from that age and region.
The horse he rides is fairly small, compact and coarse looking. They are pretty accurate representations of the Mongolian horse (minus those mean faces), and this breed has been basically untouched since the time of Genghis Khan. The current horses there now are the descendants of Genghis Khan’s horses.
There are more than 3 million of these horses there, used for travel and farm work, as well as meat and milk. They are very tough horses. They live outside, year round, and search for their own food. At one point, some Arabians and Thoroughbreds were introduced in hopes of making the breed faster, but these breeds were too fragile to survive. Breeders are still trying to figure out an ideal ratio of outside breeds to make this work, though. I’ll check back in later and see how they are doing.
Maximus is the mount of the Captain of the Corona guard, and he takes his role very seriously.
With his thick body and neck and noble looks, he’s based on an Andalusian, a type of baroque horse. Many movie and tv horses are this type as they are very appealing to see.
Tangled is very vague in when it takes place, with fashions and styles dating from all sorts of years, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it takes place. However, Andalusians have been around since the 15th century, and everything points to Tangled happening after that, so they definitely would have been around.
So we have the Andalusian, a Spanish breed, in what appears to be France, based on the main castle. It greatly resembles France’s famous Mont-Saint-Michel, an impressive castle town that’s located on an island. Andalusians were often gifted by Spain to other royal houses, so it wouldn’t have been strange for them to end up in France. They’ were also used for cavalry. Really, this horse was the perfect casting for Tangled.
Overall, I think Disney did a pretty good job with the horses. Although some might not have been technically accurate, they still delivered a fun, entertaining, and mostly beautiful horses. And really, I think that’s what we all want to see.
Are there any other movie horses I should analyze? Let me know!