Sparky's Quill: War Horses, Legends of History

War Horse follows a country boy and his love of his horse as both experience World War I. Photo courtesy   "War Horse" follows a country boy and his love of his horse as both experience World War I. Photo courtesy

I recently saw the stage production “War Horse.” It was fantastic and I highly recommend it for anyone to watch. The play is based off a children’s book of the same name written in the 1980s by Michael Morpugo. There is also the highly renowned film adaptation of the book by Stephen Spielberg. The story itself is fictional, but the bonds military men shared with their horses were very real and the inspiration for the story.

World War I (also known as The Great War) was a brutal struggle. It was a bloody combination of new technology and old tactics. Men saw horrors beyond the imaginable. The war had little advances and was fought through trench warfare.  When it was time to fight, men on horses and men on their own feet would rise out of their trench and run towards the enemy and engage in battle. Many would not return to their trench. The Great War saw over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded worldwide. This statistic leaves out the many horses that were killed. It is believed around eight million horses were killed along side the soldiers of World War I, an unnerving fact.

War horses in action. Photo courtesy BBC News War horses in action. Photo courtesy BBC News

Humanity has a special connection with the horse. This connection is what drives “War Horse” and makes it the moving story that it is. The relationship between man and horse was important in World War I because of the extensive use of the horse.  Horses brought supplies, carried artillery, and charged in battle. But they also brought love and connection to the war-shocked men. They helped them cope with the brutal nature of war and find love and compassion in the worst of times.

The history of horse and human is an intertwining story of love and destiny. There is an important connection between man and beast that we are able to witness through stories of the past. Horses and characters like Joey (the horse) in “War Horse” grow fond in our hearts and rattle our emotions.


Want to know more about World War I? Do horses of history spark your interest? Drop us a line at or find us on Twitter @sparkysquill.

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