Thursday, June 28, 2012

Oz Mythbusters: Horses in Oz

Despite alot of non-Baum Oz books and other productions stating that there horses are a common animal in the land of Oz, there technically aren't any native examples of the genus Equus there. The only one in the original books is the Sawhorse, which was a regular wooden sawhorse that was born from the Powder of Life by Ozma(then "Tip"). Like most of the other ianimate objects brought to life in Oz like the Patchwork Girl and Jack Pumpkinhead, Sawhorse doesn't need to eat or sleep. He's also the official steed for Ozma's royal carriage. Whether there were any other carriages in Oz prior to that is never explained, and if so, what creatures would be used for them.

Two other horse visitors have actually gone to Oz though. In the fourth book, Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz, Dorothy's cousin Zeb accompanied her and the Wizard back to Oz, along with Zeb's horse Jim. Once in Oz, Jim found he could talk like the other animals, and lost a race to the Sawhorse. Zeb and Jim eventually went back to their farm in California. The other visitor is Hank the mule who came with his friend Betsy Bobbin to Oz in the eight book, Tik-Tok Of Oz. Unlike Jim though, Hank stayed in Oz as a permanent resident with Betsy. As a mule, Hank is technically half-horse/half-donkey, but meaning there aren't any other full-blooded horses in Oz.

Numerous interpretations of the Oz series have placed horses as regular animals in the fairyland. The most famous one is the "horse of a different color" from the 1939 WOZ movie. Other examples include the Lost In Oz TV pilot which had living suits of armor on horseback. Oz-related books like The Wicked Years series had horses as part of everday life, whether they were animals or "Animals"(talking animals). Still, it's strange that despite there being lions, tigers, and bears in this marvelous land, that horse aren't a regular part of the wild kingdom of Oz.

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