The Year in Horses: 2003

    • If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The United States
      Equestrian Team (USET) partially merged with USA Equestrian, formerly the
      American Horse Shows Association (AHSA). The joint venture came after a
      sometimes-heated argument between USA Equestrian and the USET over which group
      was truly the National Governing Body (NGB). Per Olympic rules, there could
      only be one. The new organization that resulted from the collaboration became
      today’s United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the undisputed governing
      body of equestrian sport in the U.S.

      When reporting on this new organization in the January 2004 issue, we said that
      it would be referred to as U.S. Equestrian. Apparently that didn’t catch on.

    • The film Seabiscuit,
      based on the 2001 novel by Laura Hillenbrand, was released this year. It told
      the true story of the unlikely Thoroughbred racing champion from the 1930s. The
      film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
      Unfortunately, there was no upset at that year’s Oscar race, and the runaway
      favorite, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, took home the Best Picture
    • Sci-fi became reality in the equine world this year when a
      mule colt named Idaho Gem was born. Idaho Gem was the first cloned equine,
      followed a month later by another mule colt named Utah Pioneer.
    • The plight of ex-racehorses became international news when
      it was discovered that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had met his demise
      in a Japanese slaughterhouse. The stallion had been sold to a breeding farm in
      Japan where he was used for six seasons, but apparently his success as a stud
      was limited. Reports found that he had been “disposed of” in 2002. With the
      news appearing in major outlets, including Sports Illustrated, the mainstream
      public learned what concerned horse lovers had been agonizing over for decades.
      Ferdinand’s story did have a bright side, however, in that it raised awareness
      of Thoroughbred welfare inspired the creation of new rescue organizations for
    • Horse Illustrated website in 2003This year, finally became the site of,
      well, Horse Illustrated. Click the image to the right to see what we looked
      like back then, courtesy of the Internet Archive (

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