Studs of Animation

Forget humans, horses are where it's at!
February 22, 2010
Dear RetroJunkers,
For my very first article, originally written in 2008 and just released now, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some of the equines of animation, the true purveyors of entertainment. Subjects not discussed include: unicorns, pegasi, unicorned-pegasi, centaurs, and my mother; today it's just about horses. So sit back, relax, and get ready to witness the unsung heroes of our youths.


1929 was an interesting year: The birth of the Academy Awards (booze), the Great Depression was setting in (booze, booze, death, booze), and Georges Clemenceau passed away (who dat?) but everything pales in comparison to the screen debut of Horace Horsecollar!
Horace 2.0

Ever since Disney's cartoon short "The Plow Boy", where he worked as an extra for just 10 oat niblets, Horace knew he was destined for stardom. "Mickey, dat schmuck," he told himself, "where's dis jive turkey's career headed? Nah-where I say. That don' fly! I gotta show dees producahs how dis is done.*" (*Dat be jivespeak for you swingin' flapjacks) And so Horace played the best plow horse there ever was and what'd you know, someone noticed! Slowly yet surely he got himself more roles (read: bitparts not even worth mentioning on a resume) but it wasn't until "The Jazz Fool" that he became a staple to the fine art of cinematography. A couple of gigs later he found love in Clarabelle Cow, who became his on-screen (and off-screen) fiancee; For stony limits cannot hold love out (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Sc. 2)

Oh Horace, you blowhard!

Ah, but this stony limit was a cheating, trampy heart! Three decades later, Miss Clara stepped out with Goofy while Horace was working as a jazz musician on the latest short. He couldn't bear the shame, which caused him to drown his sorrows with scotch and an eightball of yayo. He disappeared for a long long time; no one knew what happened to poor Horace....until one day in the 80's he got rehabb'd and starting acting again. You can catch him as an extra (oh, the irony) in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie and witness his FIRST EVER speaking role in 1990's The Prince & The Pauper.


"Sticky," you might ask, "what on earth is that? It looks like a donkey and a camel got busy and popped that out." No. This here is a magic horse who comes from Russia and flies through the air. He also speaks in rhymes, which is pretty amazing since I can't even utter a cohesive sentence after I've pounded two vodka martinis (because I'm classy).
Bet you can't say 'Konyok-Gorbunok' five times fast

Because many of you may not be familiar with Ivan and his Magic Pony (aka The Humpbacked Horse or The Magic Pony), I'll give you all the information you need to know in a few sentences: Ivan, the "fool" of the family, finds a magnificent horse in the field one night. The horse begs for the boy to get off and in exchange will give him two black stallions and a companion, the Humpbacked Horse. Ivan and his new friend are summoned by the Tsar and are sent to find treasure and a beautiful girl to make his queen. During their journeys, the two end up making mischief while ending up in hairy predicaments.

Funny thing, you never get to see what Konyok's humps look like. Watching the movie as a child, I thought he was just wearing a funky saddle. I'd like to know how he became humpbacked in the first place. Was his mother standing too close to a microwave? Oh who am I kidding - Russians don't use microwaves...they have nuclear warheads. Perhaps he's the secret love-foal of Igor and the Old Gray Mare? Yea, that sounds about right.

In Soviet Russia, flowers smell you!

Some studio heads decided to re-release this 1947 film once more (it was recut in '77) so if you want to ch-check it out, there's a DVD floating around with your name on it.


As if traveling through books and morphing into inanimate objects weren't cool enough, Gumby gets to hang out with Pokey, the ultimate quadruped companion. His pompadour hairstyle, rivaled only by Elvis and Danny Zuko, kept him hip with the times and the kids. He's mild mannered yet not afraid to say what's on his mind; there's nothing worse than a "yes-man" sidekick because where's the drama?

"Hey Pokey, let's check out that noise ove--"
"Hold on Gumby, I'm poopin' sugar cubes"

I used to have this miniature Pokey figurine that was made of a hard, yet bendable, rubber. Used to, because the neighbor's dog discovered that a certain orange horse made a tasty treat. I wasn't too upset, though. The fact that Pokey was shaped like a sawhorse prevented serious playtime at recess from taking place. Pokey in my pocket + failed swing launch landing = sore booty and one severely messed up toy. Whatever adventures we could go on had to take place in front of my television.


Here is one inspirational horse. Not only does he go vis a vis with a giant fire-breathing dragon, Samson's design and character influenced future equine animations due to his independent personality, ability to emote, and his high level of intelligence. No longer goofy like Horace nor sketched like the real thing, Samson became the perfect blend for founding a new breed of sidekicks.

"And then I said, 'Oats? You mean goats!' ....PHILIP!! Are you listening to me?"

Sure there have been horses gracing the silver screen before, but they either didn't contribute to the story or were simply used as scenery. "But Sticky, what about Colonel from Cinderella? Why are you leaving out ol' Cyril Proudbottom, Ichabod's steed?" Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959, years after Cinderella or The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. When those horses were drawn, they came off as caricatures who were able to express their personality like a good quality slapstick; exaggeration, exaggeration, exaggeration. In Sleeping Beauty, for the first time a horse can portray what he's thinking in the subtlest of movements without consorting to "hee-haws" and anthropomorphism (that's behavin' like a human to ye common folk).

Plus, Samson's pretty studly. I'm surprised the animators didn't take it upon themselves to create a filly so that Prince Philip wasn't the only one chasing tail. It would have been great practice for them to animate lust using only the eyes and a couple grunts. Come to think of it, isn't that how I met my ex? *Note to self: stop flirting like a horse.


Did you know that Silver was not the original horse the Lone Ranger rode? Shock! Horror! In a 1938 radio episode, it was revealed that a brown mare named Dusty was his choice of locomotion, that is until she was killed by a cold-blooded criminal. Soon after, the Ranger saved a wild white stallion from a raging buffalo and ever since the two have been partners in anti-crime.

If he tells me to 'Hi-Yo' one more time...

Silver's star power allowed him to participate in not one but two animated cartoon shows. When the last episode of the The Lone Ranger ended in '68, Silver decided to take a haitus and go to Tahiti. Gone were the dry and dusty days of the wild west, serving justice no other horse can but once had his fill of virgin Pina Coladas and sunny relaxation, he returned in '81 to star in The New Adventures of the Lone Ranger.


Orin had On-X and Stormy had Skydancer but Rainbow Brite had the most obnoxious ride. From the moment Wisp and Twink released him from his icy casket, this horse has been prancing and dancing his way across Rainbowland in a way that would make even Paris Hilton blush. The Glory Hog that is Starlite will not hesitate to mention that he's the most magnificent horse in the universe. Really, the whole universe? Well I suppose flying through the air on a path of rainbows is pretty kickass...
Enough about me, let's talk about me

...but don't tell me Starlite is as innocent as he looks. He was totally jealous when he caught Rainbow Brite mounting another pony. After all, there's only room for one diva. Looking back though, Sunriser was a cute horse; the two should have "hoofed" up (see what I did there?). Sigh, but that relationship never would've worked out. Starlite's so vain Carly Simon needed to write a song. Oh, IDEA! He may not have even dug her; homeboy could be playing for the same team.

A filly with more pizzazz than moi? NEIGH-VAR!

After all, he is rockin' those rainbowlicious manes like a pro. This horse has proven time after time that you can save the world while looking F-I-E-R-C-E. You go girlfriend! In any case, Starlite is a celebrity in his own right. Have you Googled him? I have. Want to know what comes up?

Well that takes care of her...

A dance club. In the Bay Area.


Baby Lickety-Split was my kind of girl...err pony. Being the diva that she is, Lickety improvised new dance steps during the Spring Festival rehearsal. Not to be upstaged, the other baby ponies complained which lead to a scolding from Buttons. Ultimately, Lickety became fed up with these small-timers and set off into the world looking for a new stage. Unbeknownst to the others, Hydia and her daughters were concocting a devilish plan to take over Ponyland. Plot twist! The shunned pony is the one that saves the day and during her adventures learns a lesson in teamwork and friendship. All together now, "Awwww!"

Not the Smooze!

For an Earth pony, Baby Lickety-Split held her own. The Unicorn Ponies had their magic, the Pegasus and Flutter ponies could fly, and the Baby Sea Ponies had a catchy song; not much appeal is left for the rest. What made her so memorable to me throughout the movie and short-lived television series was her gusto and independence, not to mention her cutesy coloring! With the addition of the Big Brother Ponies later on in the series, there was no end to my joy. No. End.

The beginning of an obsession

Not only was My Little Pony: The Movie creative genius, Hasbro manufactured the ponies in every single color imaginable for all the young girls to play with. And while I shake my fist in the air, cursing money-hungry corporations that sell out their animations like cheap whores, I do have to tip my hat to these guys. I had countless My Little Ponies as a kid. Countless! It also helped to throw in the obvious product placement. Picture this: Smooze has covered the only home the Little Ponies have ever known! They find the magical Mr. Moochick so that he can help them find their new dream house. Answer? Paradise Estate!My Little Ponies not included As soon as Wind Whistler uttered "The Paradise Estate is exactly what we were looking for!" I was sold.


Despite his one episode appearance on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Stridor left me thinking there was something wrong with the world. Don't get me wrong, he kicked major butt in "Origin of the Sorceress" but who's idea was it to give a machine a soul in the end? I tried talking to my blender to see if it would help me out on my homework; I got a C+. TV shows shouldn't be giving kids false hope unless they can guarantee at least B.


I do wish we got to see more of Stridor. There's no closure if He-Man alludes to maybe seeing horse-bot again right before he galloped out the door. What does a steel stallion do in the wilderness anyway? Better yet, where can I get one? Jimmy borrowed $35 from me last week and may need some... incentive... to pay me back.


OH SWEET JESUS! Now that I've seen a weapon-totin', no-nonsense machine horse with opposable thumbs, I can die happy. Truth be told, I never knew what to make of this one. I knew he was a good guy but something about him just screams "Don't mess with me, punk, or you'll be eating knuckle sandwiches for months" and that quite scares me. It's like growing up with your dad. You know he's the best person in the whole wide world...except when we brings out the belt..and the closet...daddy doesn't like getting angry...anyone? *ahem* ANYWAY...

The one episode of Bravestarr that scarred me for life is the one where the kid, Jay, overdoses on drugs. Spin, "it's happiness in a bottle, a drop of sweet dreams." Sounds tempting but I'm shuddering just thinking about the scene where Brad finds Jay scratching himself on the floor after taking some Spin. The music was Creepy with a capital C! And having a kid die on a cartoon? I've never heard of such a thing! Does anyone else remember having that shock to your system after watching that episode? From then on, I knew never to trust a dingo in a dashing white suit. That was the message, right? Only listen to the man wearing ass-chaps? In any case, I couldn't bear the thought of trippin' out one minute and the next having Thirty/Thirty jumping on my crazy self in order to subdue me. Say no to drugs, kids! [Obligatory moral insert complete].

This is Sarah but have you met her cousin, Mary? She's pretty dope

Thirty/Thirty has an energy rifle named Sarah Jane. Nothing more needs to be said.


Ah, the French countryside c'est magnifique, non? Breathe in that cool, crisp air - nothing but blue skies and the sweet music of the crickets. Want to know why you can hear crickets? Philippe doesn't speak. That dopey visage shouldn't fool you, though. Behind those kind eyes, the gears of a genius (NO, a virtuoso!) are turning.

Belle: "Oh God, what's that smell?"
Philippe: Blame it on the cat, blame it on the cat...

When he's not saving Belle from a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, Philippe enjoys sipping on a fine Burgundy while reading a well-hoofed copy of Candide. I have no doubt in my mind that his refined taste for the arts helped him to redefine the role of the plough horse. Remember when he grazed on the grassy hilltop? W-what about the time he nickered? Don't tell me you forgot the pinnacle of his performance: The Grunt. It was Philippe's work, not Beast's melodrama nor Belle's "look-at-me-I-can-read" pseudo acting, that caught the attention of the board at the Academy Awards. To date, the only animated film in history to be nominated for Best Picture is Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Bravo, Philippe. Brah-vo!

Part II will highlight: Quick Draw McGraw, Spirit/Swift Wind, "Horse" from Dudley Do-Right, Wildfire, Noble Heart, Mr. Horse, and more!! A very special thanks to Knites, couldn't have done this without you!
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