Forget 5th graders...this horse was as smart as a 6th grader! Born in 1889 in Shellbyville, TN, Jim was an ugly duckling colt with a great heritage. He was the son of Tennessee Volunteer and the great, great, grandson of Habletonian (see my post about Habletonian posted on Dec. 15, 2010.) His dam had an interesting story herself. Her name was Lauretta Queen of Horses and was an Arabian that had been stolen from a Persian Sheik by and agent of P.T. Barnum....Hummm, I think I'll write a story about that! In any case, Dr. William Key, an ex-slave, had high hopes for the foal but when he was born, the colt was so sickly that Dr. Key didn't even think he would live. When the dam died, the colt refused to be away from Dr. Key so he was brought into the house and treated with William's own medicines.
Dr. Key was a veterinarian and a businessman. He made a fortune with the invention and sales of his own medicine: Keystone Liniment. As a result of his care, Jim grew into a beautiful, healthy and affectionate horse. Dr. Key was 56 years old at the time of Jim's birth. Even so, once Jim outgrew the house and had to be moved back to the barn, William moved a cot into the barn and slept with the horse. The two were never apart again.
For seven years, Jim travelled with William with his travelling medicines show. He became wildly popular and the first "Rock Star!" His value rose to $1,000,000 (that's MILLION.) This super-star had his own bodyguard named "Monk," and a lavish stable and private train car for travelling. He drank only purified water and was fed special hay. He received endless gifts from fan.
What was all the fuss? Well, by training with kind words and gentle touches, Jim learned to read, spell, recognize money and do basic math. The results of the careful training exemplified how the power of love (See Behind the Mist) transcends both race and species.
The two companions received numerous humanitarian and literacy awards, Jim being the first non-human to receive them!
Dr. Key, Jim and Monk retired in 1960 and returned to Shelbyville where all three are buried.
Dr. Key was a great man who clearly had a reverence for all of God's creatures. I am sure that both he and Jim are now members of the Legion of the Unicorn.
You can learn more about Jim Key on his official website: http://www.beautifuljimkey.com/
There are also several books written about him. Two examples are:
Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of a Horse and the Man Who Changed the World
Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse.
Both books and Behind the Mist, are available on Amazon.com.
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If you want to learn about the power of love, read:
Behind The Mist
Available on it's own website. Click here: