Tomorrow sunday 4th of march, the Academy Awards 2018 will take place at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, so let’s have a look at some of the most famous oscar horses and their performances on the big screen.
Horses have been a fixture of the moving picture world literally since the beginning. The very first “film” is often considered to be Eadweard Muybridge’s shot of a galloping horse, created by a series of still photographs that he displayed in a spinning zoopraxiscope that gave the illusion of motion. As motion pictures evolved into silent films, talkies, and the movies and TV we love today, horses have been an integral part of the business.
Just think about this: each time an actor effortlessly hops on the back of a horse and rides off like hell’s on their heels, it seems like it’s no big deal, doesn’t it? But making horses perform on camera takes a surprising amount of planning and preparation. Indeed, most movie horses are trained for general on-camera appearances, but some end up being trained into specialty roles as well, such as falling or jumping. Whenever you see a horse fall down on screen, either from being killed or knocked down, that horse has been trained to do so in a way that won’t hurt them or the rider.
Let’s take for example War Horse aka “Joey”, who was performed by a company of 14 equine actors, among the over 100 horses used in the film. Steven Spielberg stated, “The horse actually made material contributions to the experience and added things that we never trained the horse to contribute and that was what was so amazing for me”.
But who does actually train the Oscar Horses?
Men and woman with that very special ability to whisper into the soul of the animal, the so-called Horse Masters, a definition that is a whole program in itself. One of Hollywood’s most requested Oscar Horse Masters is Bobby Lovgren, who has trained the horses for movies such as “War Horse”, “The Mask of Zorro” and “Seabiscuit”. In regards of the 6-time nominee film “War Horse”, Lovgren gives a hilarious insight: “We had an equine makeup department and it was a very difficult job because production was very particular on the horses’ markings. The makeup artists took the extra time to work on all of the legs, that had to look identical and the markings on the head too. It was a fulltime job doing all of that, especially since we had war sequences where the horses would get muddy and dirty”.
So next time you see a beautiful horse galloping over the beach, or fight side by side of its co-protagonist on the battlefield, think about all the training behind that scene.