Heroes of the Horse

Equine Research Centre, Guelph, ON - The inaugural Heroes of the Horse Awards was held at the Stratford Festival Theatre, December 8, 2002. The one-hour, 45-minute "Academy Awards for horses" honoured exemplary cultural contributions made in the name of the horse, recognizing world-class efforts in the categories of Film, Music, Literature, Sport, Medicine, Philanthropy, and Commerce.

The evening featured special guests William Shatner, Ian Millar; Stratford’s own Lucy Peacock, and a live audio feed from pop star Bryan Adams. A selection of great moments of the horse in film, television, mythology and popular music were meant to highlight the bond between humans and horses. These were chosen from an array of classics, including "Hollywood Loves Horses," "Ghost Racers in the Sky," and the recent Dreamworks production, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Dreamworks, a leading Hollywood film studio, received the Heroes of the Horse Award as the first public recognition of this blockbuster and instant horse film classic. Other distinguished recipients included:

Bryan Adams, for Music in "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron";

William Shatner, for Philanthropy with the "Hollywood Charity Horse Show";

Sean O’Huigin, in Literature for "Ghost Horse of the Mounties";

Ian Millar, for equine sports leadership as "Captain Canada";

David Willmot, Chairman & CEO Woodbine Entertainment Group, for Commerce;

The Ontario Veterinary College, for world leadership in equine veterinary medicine.

While the show tugged at your heartstrings, particularly the film clip of Big Ben’s farewell ride followed by an emotional address from first-class sportsman Ian Millar, the show was also meant to highlight the Equine Guelph initiative. This bold new concept is the result of two years of determined collaboration and negotiation between the Equine Research Centre and the University of Guelph. Equine Guelph will provide one portal for the industry’s horse health needs, and will encompass industry training and education; research: communications; and medical services, including a dedicated Equine Performance Centre. This Centre will focus on state-of-the-art diagnostics and individual investigation and treatment, with one-on-one customer service and follow up.

An exciting and entertaining event to grandstand a worthy cause made the inaugural Heroes of the Horse Awards a success. The second Heroes of the Horse Awards was announced for July 2003 to coincide with the premier of the movie, Seabiscuit, adapted from the best selling novel Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by author Laura Hillenbrand.

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Updated: October 2005.