Welcome to The Wonderful World of Disney, originally called Disneyland. Running from 1954 to 2008, Disneyland apparently caused the "Davy Crockett craze of 1955," according to Wikipedia. This may be a fact that I find endlessly amusing, but yes, Disneyland did feature many, many episodes about Davy Crockett. When they weren't fangirling over a long-dead frontiersman, they were showing the innocent American public Texas John Slaughter: Killers from Kansas (awesome) to Rob Roy (probably without the blood and rape) to The Pigeon That Worked a Miracle (also sounds sort of awesome). What I'm saying here is Disney had a wide range of stories to work with, many of them westerns and animal stories, a few of them involving horses.
The Bluegrass Special is one such story. This episode came out in 1977, but it could have very well have appeared in 1954. It's got the weird/happy music, secondary characters that are in fact chickens, unexplainable antagonists (okay, so unexplainable antagonists are in 90% of horse stories, but whatever...), and random fisticuffs. Could this be awesome, you might be asking yourself? Well, let's go deeper.
Penny lives with her father and aunt at some backwater racetrack. They own one horse named Margot and a chicken named Clocker (or Clucker, but I'm hoping it's Clocker because Clucker seems too obvious and/or stupid.) Penny has one aspiration in life: to become the best female jockey ever. In fact, she has a whole wall devoted to photos of female jockeys. It resembles a shrine the obsessed or homicidal might make of their possible victims. Who knows where she got those professional head shots from. But I digress.
The meet at this tiny backwater track is about to start, and Penny sees the most beautiful dark bay/black colt that is also a rapscallion. His name is Woodhill, and he's busy trying to kill a few people. Penny tries to help, but her father isn't having any of this nonsense. Woodhill could very well damage poor Penny's head, and then where would we be? Leave it to Penny's aunt to go buy Woodhill for some paltry amount, disregarding the colt's bad reputation in order to give Penny a shot at greatness that I guess they assume they might find with Woodhill.
Enter Davy Jones of The Monkees. So apparently Davy used to be an apprentice jockey. I...did not know that. Here he is Davey (conveniently), resident top jockey, who is sort of a dick to Penny. His jockey friend, Billy Joe (or something) eggs him on. They eventually tell Penny that she can't be a jockey because she's a girl and girls don't have what it takes (aka guts). And yet Penny tames Woodhill with carrots and the use of Clocker the rooster, going on long beach rides and progressing until she finally convinces her father to enter Woodhill in the Bluegrass Special.
Only the racing secretary isn't having it. No, no, he loves that Penny will ride, but he can't wrap his head around Woodhill's antics in Tijuana. And so the racing secretary turns down their nomination and Penny is relegated to getting herself into a match race with Davey and Billy Joe. Woe.
On the morning of the match race, they discover that Clocker has gone missing. And because this chicken is all that stands between Woodhill and sheer madness, everyone is quite upset. They all stand around talking about what to do before some guy walks up with the chicken and implies that one of the jockeys took him. Aaaand, on to the match race, where Davey wins and then beats up Billy Joe afterward for stealing the chicken. Davey might be a recovering misogynist, but he plays fair, damn it. And then they all decide to race again in the Bluegrass Special, because the racing secretary saw enough to be awed by Woodhill, but not enough to be enraged that there was an illegal match race going on right in front of him.
So I like this for two reasons: the main character doesn't annoy me and it is 48 minutes long. There is also a completely gratuitous scene of beach riding, and you really can't go wrong there. And thanks to this epsiode of Disneyland, I have found two other British programs that I want to watch: Trainer and Horse in the House. More than likely, I will never see these programs, which I find upsetting because this description of Horse in the House is something I could totally get into:
Children's TV-show about kids who attempt to hide their horse, called Orbit, in the main larder in the third east wing of their country mansion, seeing as mum and dad wants to sell the horse to an Arab oil billionaire.
I am all about any television show that tries to hide a horse in a pantry/refrigerator in the third east wing of a country mansion in order to avoid oil billionaires. Honestly.