I live in Louisville, Kentucky. That means that, for the past week and all this coming week, everything, and I mean everything, is all about that two minute horse race known as the Kentucky Derby.

Balloon races, parties, mint juleps, steam boat races, bourbon, parades; the list goes on and on. For corporate organizations, this week is about promoting your brand and letting your staff play and enjoy the community festival. For non-profits, it is an opportunity to launch fundraisers with a tie to the race and the energy that is all-consuming for these two weeks.

Despite the economic benefit and the history for horse breeding and racing in Kentucky, there appears to also be a nostalgic romance with horses. They say a girl’s first love is her horse. Maybe that’s true—if she’s lucky enough to have one.

In American culture, horses have long symbolized adventure and a return to nature in an increasingly industrialized world. The Kentucky Derby wouldn’t have the same appeal if there were cars instead of horses racing around Churchill Downs. In literature and film, horses serve their riders in multiple ways. The beautiful animals are strong and often wild, but in need of love and care. With enough dedication, they can be tamed into loyal companions.

Is it possible that classic movies about people and their horses could teach us a thing or two about love? There are quite a few out there to enjoy, so sit down with a mint julep and celebrate the Kentucky Derby with one of these horse films.

Let’s start the list with April Love. This 1957 movie features Pat Boone as a Chicago teen who is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Kentucky. Once in the country, the city boy takes an interest in horse racing and Shirley Jones.

Something To Talk About addresses parenting issues – those with your parents and your children, marriage challenges and self-identification, all in the middle of a family horse farm in the south. Betrayal, loyalty and family are the common themes – you know, besides the horses. Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid fans still list this romantic comedy as one of their favorites (including this writer).

Lastly, we can’t create a list of horse movies without including the 1998 drama, The Horse Whisperer, staring heartthrob Robert Redford. After a tragic accident involving humans and horses, the seasoned hero helps both recover.

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most beloved sporting events to happen every spring, and the best part will always be the horses. It might be the famous ones like Seabiscuit and American Pharoah – the most recent Triple Crown winner, or those working hard to make a name for themselves on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Melody K. Smith

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