Every horse owner is familiar with the classic story of Black Beauty. The 1877 novel written by author Anna Sewell is one of the best-selling books of all time, and the 1994 film adaption is still a favorite for horse owners and horse admirers. It’s been decades since the famous film made its debut, but Billy, one of the horses that played Black Beauty, is still alive today.
He recently celebrated his 30th birthday alongside 200 of his friends and fans.
Billy’s owner, Louise Maryon, has known the famous horse since she was a teenager. She bought him after he finished filming his claim-to-fame movie, and he’s been her family ever since. She told Horse and Hound,
“Billy is my horse of a lifetime. He is such an intelligent horse. I’ve owned and bred many horses, but I’ve never met a horse with the personality he has.”
Born in 1989, Billy was brought to the U.S. from Moscow in 1992.
In 1993, Warner Brothers bought the beautiful Orlov trotter with plans to make him a star. Billy worked on set alongside 4 other Black Beauty horses. Out of the five horses, Billy has the second highest number of minutes in the final film. His most iconic scene from the movie is when the barn catches fire. He learned to strike the wall when he heard a specific sound and ran through a field of geese to make one of the most memorable scenes of the movie.
Another screen grab from the movie. Blindaj is very recognisable in this photo. His forelock was longer in his younger…
Now 30 years old, Billy is officially retired. After filming, he went home with Maryon and competed in the show world. He was a consistent winner and eventually moved to Wales.
When Billy was 20, he developed arthritis and officially retired. Despite his arthritis, Maryon reports her people-loving horse is still happy and energized. He’s enjoying his retirement with his best friend and turnout buddy, Richie, and he’s still recognized for his work on the big screen. In 2018, he received a commemorative plaque only given to animals that have made significant accomplishments during their lifetimes. Maryon said,
“He knows he is famous, and he loves the attention.”
Billy hit his milestone 30th birthday on August 8.
To celebrate Billy’s long life, Maryon decided to throw him a birthday party worthy of his fame. She decorated his stable and invited all of his friends and fans to visit over the two-day weekend. The event was free to attend, and donations were collected for horse charities Brooke and Redwings. People brought Billy cards and gifts, and the birthday boy happily posed for selfie after selfie. By the end of the weekend, over 200 people had shown up to honor the Black Beauty star.
Billy is back to living the good life of retirement, but he will always have a special place in the hearts of horse lovers.
Follow Billy on Facebook to keep up with his life.
Featured image via Facebook/Blindaj Billy
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