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Terri Farley
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's legacy

Dear Readers,
Many of you probably don't know why the death of Elizabeth Taylor is news. If you know of her at all, it may be as a crusader against AIDS or a comic figure of an actress past her prime.
But Elizabeth Taylor will always be Velvet Brown to me.
Based on the book NATIONAL VELVET, the movie showed me for the first time -- it was already black-and-white-old when I saw it on TV -- a girl who gave her heart to a horse and dared to have adventures.
Because horse stories are never JUST horse stories, it was about a girl taking control of something larger than herself. Velvet lived within the confines of her time -- 1920's, I think -- but she broke free to prove females bloody well could compete in the Grand National steeplechase even if they had to hack off their hair and bind their chests to do it.
I already loved horses when I saw the film, but it didn't bother me that the Piebald appeared not to be. I remember the gallops along the shore, yes, but even more I can still see Velvet's mother offering her daughter the entry fee for the race. The coins she unwrapped were cherished gold sovereigns she'd won years before swimming the English Channel.
My heart soared at the idea that somewhere -- in England, apparently! -- generations of daring women worked together. With horses. And courage.
RIP Elizabeth Taylor. I hope for you the best sort of Heaven, cantering green fields with the wind in your hair and a warm supper waiting for you at home.

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Posted by Terri Farley @ 8:25 AM

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