Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of a Horse and a Man Who Changed the World also documents an animal-based story, but quite a different one. Mim Eichler Rivas spotlights Beautiful Jim Key, a horse whose intelligence and ability paved the way for a new appreciation of horses and all other animals as well. Key's owner and trainer was Dr. William Key of Shelbyville, Tennessee, an ex-slave who was also a veterinarian and entrepreneur. Dr. Key eschewed cruelty and the use of force, preferring to use kind words, a gentle touch and a calm, almost reverent demeanor toward his horse.
Dr. Key became a celebrated figure in his own right, a famous black American who wasn't an entertainer, athlete or activist. His stately, dignified and educated image and the results of his training made him a quiet hero during a time long before the civil rights era. He traveled with his horse to places where he was regarded as something below the animal he was presenting, yet his openness, kindness with Jim Key and overall attitude often softened the hearts of those who would otherwise oppose him solely due to his race. Beautiful Jim Key contains some striking descriptions of the horse's maneuvers and performance moves, as well as a poignant account of an amazing relationship between owner/trainer and animal that in a small but significant way helped make a difference socially during the early part of the 20th century.