National Velvet – An Inspirational Adventure

There are only a few horse movies and books that are as legendary as ‘National Velvet’. This delightful story is one that inspires the impossible and it is one that every female horse lover or jockey should read or see at least once in their lives.

The tale originally started as a novel written by Enid Bagnold. It was first published in 1935 and it didn’t take long for it to become a massive hit. Little horse loving girls across the nation quickly declared it their ‘firm favorite’ since, not only did it feature horses, but it made the impossible seem possible. In the original book, the story covers the adventures of a young girl named Velvet Brown who lives a somewhat ordinary existence, but spends her days dreaming of horses. Her mother is a larger-than life character who was once famous for swimming the English Channel, while her father is a butcher. Velvet is a typical, awkward teenager who lives in a small English village and hopes to one day own several horses. One day her dreams come true. She meets a man with whom she has a pleasant conversation. The man then departs, leaves all his horses to her in his will and then commits suicide. Suddenly Velvet’s dreams come true and she has all the horses she could possibly want. Still, this is not enough. She wins a beautiful, strong-willed piebald gelding known as ‘The Pie’ in a local raffle and soon she starts dreaming of entering the Grand National.

Of course, the movie version of the book was somewhat sensationalized and very little attention is given to Velvet’s inheritance of the horses. Instead, The Pie quickly becomes the only horse in Velvets life and she immediately starts dreaming of the Grand National. She hires a jockey to train and ride ‘The Pie’ and manages to raise the money to enter the race, but come race day her jockey lets her down. Determined to give The Pie the chance of his life, she disguises herself as a boy and enters the race as his jockey. Of course she wins the event, but is then disqualified when it is discovered that she is a girl. Still, her goal is achieved, and Velvet and The Pie are launched to fame. The movie won two Oscars in 1945 and featured actors such as Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury.

Since then, the book has been made into a TV series and a sequel titled ‘International Velvet’ which was made in 1978. The story of Velvet Brown and The Pie is a loveable tale about the love between horse and girl and the adventure and excitement of steeple chasing, which continues to inspire young girls around the globe even today.