A black-and white photo of a steeplechase race.

The Jockey Who Won a Horse Race Despite Being Dead

On June 4, 1923 at New York’s Belmont Park, Frank Hayes, 22 (or 35, according to some newspaper reports) won the first and only steeplechase race of his career on the 20-1 longshot Sweet Kiss. He also became the only person to ever win a horse race (or any sporting event) despite being dead crossing the finish line, tumbling from the saddle after suffering an apparent heart attack…


A statue of a man on a horse.

Caligula riding Incitatus.

Caligula Tries to Appoint a Horse Consul

Incitatus was the favourite horse of Caligula, the barking mad emperor who briefly ruled Rome from 37–41 AD. Incitatus was a prized racehorse of the royal stables, and was invited to dinner with the emperor and fed oats sprinkled with gold flakes. Caligula wanted to appoint his equestrian BFF to the Senate, but was assassinated before that could happen…


People and horses racing up a hill.

Man v Horse race. (green-events.co.uk photo)

Man Beats Horse in a Foot Race

It’s only the fourth time that a human has successfully beaten an equine at the annual Man v. Horse race in Wales. More than 60 horses and 1,000 runners faced off in the 42nd running of the Man v. Horse race held in the town of Llanwrtyd Wells, and bipedal runner Daniel Connolly crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of the four-legged winner, DNS Ronaldo, ridden by Kate Atkinson…

… And Just How Did Man v. Horse Come About?

The event began in June 1980 following a chat over a pint (or three) in the back bar of the Neuadd Arms Hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. The then landlord Gordon Green overheard two men discussing the relative merits of men and horses running over mountainous terrain. Never one to miss an opportunity to promote the town and improve business at his hotel, he started the now internationally-acclaimed event Man v Horse, run over a rugged course of about 35 kms. It took 25 years before a runner finally beat the horses – Huw Lobb in 2004, followed by Florien Holtinger in 2007, Ricky Lightfoot in 2022 and Daniel Connolly in 2023…


Don’t Go Losing Your Head, Now

An obscure South Texan legend tells the tale of El Muerto, or “the dead man,” a Mexican bandit named Vidal who was beheaded by Texas Rangers only to end up travelling the countryside on his horse. The unforgiveable crime he had committed in San Antonio was horse rustling, and unfortunately for him, some of the stolen horses belonged to Texas Ranger Creed Taylor, who ‘did not take the news well,’ according to Ripleys. Vidal was captured, his head and body parted company in painful fashion and were tied to his horse, who was set free to terrorize all who came upon them.


Chalk horse on a hillside.

Uffington White Horse. (Valerie2000 – stock.adobe.com)

Keeping The Chalk Horses Clean

A number of mysterious white horses have been carved into the hillsides in Oxfordshire, England, measuring hundreds of feet long. The oldest of these is the Uffington White Horse, carved approximately 3,000 years ago. These chalk carvings require constant upkeep to keep grass from overgrowing them, a task the UK’s National Trust has taken on with volunteers helping re-chalk and tidy up the horses a few times a year. The amazing thing about these carvings is that they are best viewed from overhead (not possible when originally created), and had to be covered up during World War II to prevent the Germans from using the landmarks for navigation…


A white horse diving into the water.

The diving horse at the Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, around 1907.

Diving Horses – in Toronto?

Horse diving exhibitions were a bizarre form of entertainment created by William “Doc” Carver in 1881. A film based on the life of one blind human performer, Sonora Webster, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, was released in 1991. And the shows were not just held at the pier in Atlantic City; in the early 1900s they also took place at Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park in Toronto, Ontario. Thankfully, animal welfare advocates saw most acts shuttered in the 1970s, although attempts to revive the shows as late as 2012 were rejected, being called “a merciful end to a colossally stupid idea.”


A horse head in a museum.

Old Billy’s head.

(Very) Old Billy – The Oldest-Ever Horse at 62

Old Billy was the longest-living horse on record, verified to be an astonishing 62 years old at his death. He was born in Woolston, Cheshire, England in 1760 and worked as a barge horse, pulling barges up and down the canals. Described as a large cob/shire type horse, he died on November 27, 1822 at the estate of William Earle in Everton, Liverpool. Today Old Billy’s head is on display at Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum.


A white pony rolling and standing.

He’s not dead, honest…

Shetland Pony Embarrasses Family

In more recent history, a Shetland pony named Pinto fooled a passerby into believing he’d been dead for days when an electrical contractor knocked on a Texas couple’s door to tell them there was a deceased horse in their field — “swollen with it’s legs sticking straight up in the air.” He wasn’t dead, he was just overweight and playing ‘possom…