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'Hidalgo' Feeds Growing Horse Craze

Press Release

AMARILLO, Texas, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- With the release of the new movie, "Hidalgo," and a Best Picture Oscar nomination for 2003's "Seabiscuit," it's obvious the country is crazy about horses again. Many people will be looking for a way to turn this fascination with horses into reality -- they'll want to know how to get involved with horses. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has the answer, and it's not as difficult as one might think. There are plenty of ways to get involved without a lot of time or investment upfront.

As the largest breed association in the country, AQHA has a passion for connecting people with horses and is the best resource for the latest horse trends and facts:

-- Hollywood's Fascination With Horses - "Hidalgo" Leads the Growing Horse Craze

* The latest buzz is on the eagerly anticipated Walt Disney Pictures/Touchstone movie "Hidalgo" - a tale of a 3,000-mile endurance race on horseback across the Arabian desert, based on a true story - which opens Friday, Mar. 5, 2004.
* "Seabiscuit," this summer's blockbuster based on the inspirational racehorse, generated a Best Picture nomination at this year's Academy Awards.
* Disney's "The Young Black Stallion," the long-awaited prequel to 1979's "The Black Stallion," opened in IMAX theaters over the holidays.
* The trend also is being seen on television, as 20th Century Fox works on a new version of "Mister Ed."

-- "Hidalgo" Horse Trainer and Movie Wrangler Rex Peterson Speaks to the Trend The title character of this eagerly anticipated movie is the horse - a horse who is soon to inspire audiences everywhere. But who coached Hidalgo to deliver his noteworthy performance? None other than movie wrangler Rex Peterson, who made sure the horses in the film did their part. Besides "Hidalgo," Rex has worked on the sets of top horse movies including "All the Pretty Horses," "The Patriot," "Dances with Wolves," and "The Black Stallion." He even owned the horse that played Black Beauty.

Rex is available for interviews and can discuss topics like:

* What it was like to work with Viggo Mortensen and turn him into a believable cowboy
* How to pick the right horses for the part - what to look for, what's important, etc.
* How to get the best out of the horses on set
* Why horses seem to be a hot topic in Hollywood right now

-- Not Just Movies - America's Love of Horses on the Rise

* More than 225,000 copies of Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul have been sold since its debut this summer - in fact, it's so popular it was the second best-selling sports book in 2003 (second only to "Seabiscuit") and currently sits at No. 5 on Wal-Mart's top 10 bestseller list.
* An independent survey recently conducted for the AQHA revealed two out of five adults (41 percent) would be happy if Santa brought them a horse for Christmas.
* Membership in horse groups and participation in horse events is at an all-time high. In 2003, AQHA's membership soared past 345,000 people - more than any other time in AQHA's 64-year history.
* Celebrities are into the craze, too! Sheryl Crow rides a horse in her new video; Toby Keith recently got into the horse racing business; and celebrities from Madonna to Kelly Clarkson have said the one thing they still want to do is learn how to ride horses.
* Horses fit into almost any lifestyle: You can leisure ride or compete, race or breed, take horseback vacations or just enjoy horse shows. And the great news is you don't have to be wealthy, own a stable, or live in the country to enjoy horses! In fact, lessons can be had for approximately $40, and renting, leasing, and time sharing are great ways to get involved without total ownership responsibilities.

New Trends Make it Easier than Ever to Get Started on the Road to Horse Involvement

Now that "Seabiscuit" and "Hidalgo" have captured the interest of millions, AQHA wants to let America know how easy it is to get involved with horses without the cost of ownership. With the variety of options available today, you no longer have to be wealthy or live in the country to enjoy horses! AQHA can provide information on topics like: local stables that give horseback riding lessons; vacation destinations that let you be a real cowboy for a week; ideas for leasing a horse (just like a car!); or information about co-op ownership (buying/sharing a horse with others).

-- The Many Health Benefits of Horse Involvement - It's No Wonder People Love Them

* One of the top 10 fitness trend predictions for 2004, according to the American Council on Exercise, is that functional fitness (exercising and strengthening several muscles together to help people perform daily activities with less pain) will grow. Horseback riding offers all the benefits of functional fitness and more!
* Riding horses provides many physical benefits such as building strength, enhancing balance, toning muscles, and improving cardiovascular health. In fact, if you bring your horse to a trot, you'll burn as many calories as race walking, biking at 12 mph, or playing a friendly game of hoops for 20 minutes.

-- AQHA Helps People Get Started With Horses.

* AQHA has the perfect package available to help people get started on the road to horse involvement. For just $30, you can purchase a starter kit that includes a gift certificate good for one free riding lesson from a screened and approved professional trainer in your area. The gift set also includes a book with tips for newcomers; a Breyer(R) model horse; a starter booklet; and some other fun items. The $30 set, also available in a kid's version, retails for $90 - it's a great way to get started without a lot of investment!
* The American Quarter Horse - often called the "golden retriever of the horse world" because of its calm, friendly, and trainable disposition - is one of the safest breeds for newcomers.
* As the largest breed association in the country, AQHA has a passion for connecting people with horses. They have a Web site just for that purpose, called Log on to buy a starter kit or find AQHA-approved "professional horsemen" in your area, including breeders, trainers, or instructors.
* To learn more about horses or AQHA, call (877) 4AHORSE or visit

About American Quarter Horses and the AQHA

The best way to get started on the road to horse involvement is with an American Quarter Horse, the most beloved and popular horse in the world. Also known as "America's Horse," the American Quarter Horse is the first breed of horses native to the United States and is known for its versatility, strength, agility, responsiveness, and ability to specialize in work, racing, shows, or leisure activities.

With the growing variety of horse activities available today, there's never been a better time to get involved with an American Quarter Horse. From renting or leasing to taking a horse-themed vacation or betting on a horse race, horse involvement has never been easier, more affordable, or more accessible for people of all ages and lifestyles.

To find out more about how to get involved, consumers can contact the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), a nonprofit organization formed in 1940 that provides horse enthusiasts a variety of services and information to help them enjoy their horses more. Located in Amarillo, Texas, AQHA serves more than 345,000 members worldwide. It can be found on the Web at