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Speaking of "magical" horses


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#1 Petra

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 07:33 PM

I didn't want to hijack the "Secretariat" thread, so I'm starting my own one.
Being from Slovakia, as most of you know, I had no idea who Secretariat was. Of course I spent few hours this morning looking up stuff. :)
However it reminded me of a "hero" horse everyone knew when I was a kid.
For some reason we didn't know much of anything that was going on in American continent. I assume it was the same for you too.
I figured you may want to know the story of Zeleznik. There are videos of him on youtube, so I'll just try to translate one of them.

YouTube - Železník
YouTube - železnÃ*k

Let’s look closer at a story of one unusual horse, one that liked to win… He was an English Throughbred, gelding, sorrel, and 4 times winner of Grand Steeplechase in Pardubice…
Yes, it’s him, Zeleznik…
His story is more interesting that any human one…
He was born in 1978, in Samorin…
When he got hurt as a 3 year old it looked like he will end up in a slaughterhouse…
Nobody thought he could ever win…
However he healed up. Young, green jockey Jozef Vana took him in…
In 1985 he ran his first Grand Steeplechase in Pardubice with jockey Antonin Novak.
Sadly he didn’t win, nor did he the year after…
In 1987 he won first Grand Steeplechase in Pardubice with Jozef Vana and so did for the next two years.
His wonderful racing disrupted an accident, so next year they didn’t participate in Grand Steeplechase.
In 1991 they stood on a starting line again, and both were determined to win for the 4th time.
A horse in front of them fell on Popler jump, Zeleznik didn’t have the time to go around and fell…
However Vana and Zeleznik wanted to win no matter what. Jockey immediately jumped back on Zeleznik.
Other horses were already jumping another jump and everything seemed lost, but…
Zeleznik wanted to win, he didn’t jump the jumps he was flying over them, determined to WIN
And it did happen…They WON!!
So far Zeleznik is holding the record in Grand Steeplechase in Pardubice as the only one that won 4 times.
During his career he raced 58 times and 30 times won first…
It was a horse that is born once in hundred years…
December 22nd 2004 story of Zeleznik ended…
When he passed away as 26 years old, it was all over the news as if a human star died.
His name was heard everywhere...
Zeleznik – horse born once in hundred years.
He must have been everyone’s favorite..
Zeleznik I’ll never forget you.

By: Marca


One more thing the video didn’t mention, he didn’t have any special breeding. His parents weren’t winners. He just had a strong spirit.
Here is a video of his last race.
(I have to warn you, few horses fall and it is quite horrible. I have really hard time watching it, but his race was amazing...the crowd was screaming when he run through the finish line.)

YouTube - Velká Pardubická 1991 - Grand steeplechase in Pardubice.Full race - Old Taxis.

Edited by Petra, 07 October 2010 - 07:53 PM.

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#2 WashingtonBay

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 07:45 PM

Haven't watched yet, and may not, but thanks for sharing the story. :)

Steeplechase is such a brutal sport. For riders and horses! Guts, I don't have.



#3 Petra

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 07:47 PM

Oh the first two videos are OK to watch...that's about the horse.

Edited by Petra, 07 October 2010 - 07:53 PM.

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#4 Remali

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:03 PM

Wow, I watched the entire race..... to win that many of those races, Zeleznik really was a remarkable horse! I have to admit that first ditch at the beginning of the race made me cringe.... those deep ditches, oy!.... But for Zeleznik to win 30 out of 58 races, and steeplechase races, that is amazing. I could pick up when the announcer would say his name, so I knew when he was moving up in the race.
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#5 oursarge

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:06 PM

I couldn't watch the videos but he sure was beautiful and what a career. Thanks for telling us since I don't think most of us know much about your country except for the pictures you have posted that are beautiful.
“If you don’t catch an Indian Pony in the first two miles,” General Crook is reputed to have said, “then give up the chase, because they’ll run a hundred miles in a day and be fresh to do it again come morning.”

#6 Tiz

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:55 PM

Great story, Petra. It's interesting how little we know about what is happening in other countries, isn't it?

Amazing to see that horse fall, and win the race anyway. I'll bet he lost 30 or 45 seconds to the leaders when that happened. It's incredible that he could make it up.

He looks like such an ordinary little horse. No blue blood, no striking appearance, yet clearly he had speed and the desire to win. These horses are good examples for the rest of us sometimes.

#7 Petra

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:56 PM

Remali the "Big Taxis" (4th jump) was the hardest jump of any races in the entire Europe. Horses and people got killed there. The fence is 4'11" tall and 5'10.8" wide, followed by 16' 4.85" wide dip that is 3' 3.37" deep. Used to be 6'4.85" deep, but it was to dangerous, so it was changed two years after the race you watched.
I went there once and actually stood inside after the race. It was huge...in real it looked much bigger than in TV.

Annie thank you and you're welcome! :)
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#8 Petra

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:02 PM

Great story, Petra. It's interesting how little we know about what is happening in other countries, isn't it?

Amazing to see that horse fall, and win the race anyway. I'll bet he lost 30 or 45 seconds to the leaders when that happened. It's incredible that he could make it up.

He looks like such an ordinary little horse. No blue blood, no striking appearance, yet clearly he had speed and the desire to win. These horses are good examples for the rest of us sometimes.


:) Yes, that's so true. :)

Lol you are right, he really didn't look like anything special. In the first video his jockey was joking, that horse with such ugly name will never win a race. He only started riding him, because he was green himself.

After the race in '91 they said he was getting letters from all over the country and peoble were sending him boxes of sugar cubes. :)

Edited by Petra, 07 October 2010 - 09:10 PM.

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#9 Equine_Woman

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:10 PM

Wow! Thanks for sharing!!! That horse had some major guts and some impressive soundness!! We need to cross a bit of that into the TB line over here. . .

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#10 Petra

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:18 PM

You are welcome EW.
Haha I have to hold on to a saddle horn when Crystal jumps over a small ditch. I cannot imagine the feeling jumping over the 4th jump. I don't get scared, but I'm pretty sure I'd be shaking like crazy just from the adrenalin if I lived through it!
All those horses and jokeys must have guts, especially knowing it may be the last thing they ever do.
There wasn't one race that horses wouldn't fall on that one. They always do.
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#11 gabhainn

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:28 PM

always wanted to try steeplechase, unfortunately my horses were always to chicken (smart?) ...............kevin

#12 Petra

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:40 PM

Smart! ;)
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#13 natisha

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 07:43 AM

always wanted to try steeplechase, unfortunately my horses were always to chicken (smart?) ...............kevin

Your horses were chicken? :p I would love to see you in some jockey pants though :cool:;)

Petra, one of the horses was clearly killed at that jump, I'm glad they modified it.
Why was it in black & white?
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#14 mare

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 08:58 AM

Very interesting, Petra! Thank you for sharing the videos and story. What an amazing horse.
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#15 Petra

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 11:33 AM

Your horses were chicken? :p I would love to see you in some jockey pants though :cool:;)

Petra, one of the horses was clearly killed at that jump, I'm glad they modified it.
Why was it in black & white?


Yes Natisha, it's hard to watch. I had hard time no to cry, that's why I warned about the video.
I don't know why...that's all I could find on youtube.
Here is a video when he won for the first time. This one is in color:
(This one is OK to watch, no bad injuries.)
YouTube - Velká Pardubická 1987
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#16 Remali

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 11:47 AM

Thanks Petra, I am really glad they changed the 4th jump, the Big Taxis.... that was a pretty wicked jump, and then that ditch.
It must have been something to actually walk out onto that race course and stand near that jump and see how huge it was!
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#17 miatapony

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 11:51 AM

those were awsome... i couldnt understand a word of it but i watched all of them.... heart is like GO GO GO GO GO GO.... thanks Petra

#18 Petra

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 12:07 PM

Glad you have enjoyed it everyone! :)

Remali, it was something. That was the only race I have ever watched in person. I was crazy about horses and only got to see them in TV. Not sure if you remember, I mentioned it before, when I was 13 I used to volunteer in stables for about a year. That was the only time I got to see some horses in person. Even though I didn't get to ride (they let me on the horse few times...on the lunge line only) I loved to be able to be around them. People don't have horses at home like it is over here. It was an animal I could only see in books or TV. You cannot imagine how excited I was to be there.
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#19 Remali

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 12:58 PM

That must have been something to work at the stable Petra, and to be able to be on one of the horses even on a longe line, must have been a thrill for you back then! Does anyone privately own horses there now? I would sort of think that now perhaps they would? I always wonder, and I should ask my aunt this..... if we have any relatives left in the Czech Republic.... my mom's side of the family were Czech, I always thought it would be fun to correspond with relatives, but I doubt if there are any left over there now, I only have one elderly aunt and one uncle left on that side of my family (both here in Wisconsin), but I remember my aunt having a photo of an old family home from over there.....

Is steeple chasing still popular in Slovakia?
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#20 Petra

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 03:20 PM

Remali, I loved working there. It was only two or three times a week. The comute wasn't much fun, especially in the winter when it gets freezing cold.
I actually lied to my parents that I go with a friend and her mom. It was in another town. Took me 30 minutes to walk to the train station, another 30 minutes by train and than another 40 minutes walk to the stables. I used to come home after dark and my parents wouldn't let me go if they knew I went alone. I would run the whole way after school to catch the train, lol.
Now when I look back it seems crazy...I cannot imagine my son spending over hour and a half to get somewhere, so he could work for free, while risking the consequences of lying. :D

Yes it has changed. Some people do own horses now. Generally only people with $$.
Usually they are kept in stables. I haven't been there for a while, but as far as I know people do not keep them at home like here. Mainly, because of the high population. People in general don't own much land.

I love it when we drive and I see horses everywhere I look. I was amazed when I came to states. I was also amazed they are just kept on the pastures. I think you have an idea how they keep them in SK. It shows in the video.

I'm sure you have some distant relatives there. It may be fun.

Well, if you want, try to ask your relatives here if they have any more details, maybe old addresses and names.
I could help you since I can speak the language. If you don't find them oh well, but at least you'll know you tried.
I don't really corespond with mine and they are not even distant relatives...I wouldn't know what to talk about.
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