Wednesday, July 2, 2014


When they asked if I rode horses I said something like "I haven't been on a horse in a while," leaving the impression I once rode. But what I meant was, since I was a little boy in the 1940s being led around in a circle on a pony with someone else holding the reins down the Jersey shore in Belmar behind an amusement arcade.

So when I met the wrangler on set I told him that, and he said no problem he'd get me a gentle horse who had a lot of experience and then he taught me the four basic techniques for making it move forward, back up, and turn right or left. I was on the DEADWOOD set for three weeks and shot one scene over and over again of me and Peter Coyote and two horse stunt men galloping into Deadwood to jump off our horses and cross the dirt street.

I loved that scene because by then I'd been in the saddle a couple of weeks and was so happy to have mastered the basics well enough to pull it off. I also at the time hadn't had cataract surgery and needed my glasses to see but they were too modern so had to ride blind, almost literally. Especially in the night scenes during which I had to carry a flag in one hand and avoid potholes in the dirt street and hope the horse didn't get spooked by the many fires in barrels in the scene.

I can't remember the horse's name, which I'll blame on the brain operation, but I remember how gentle it was with me and how easily and promptly it responded to any indication from me on the reins. And to get it galloping, to the light pressure from my boots on its sides. I was so happy to be riding a horse being filmed on a set, the fulfillment of a childhood fantasy, I could have stayed in the saddle another three weeks. Unfortunately all the scenes of me actually riding (as well as others) weren't used in the end in order to fit in more plot stuff.

This is a shot of me in costume on the horse that I think the make-up guy took, the one who helped me glue on the mustache every morning. I'm a lucky guy to have had such a rich life, which it continues to be.


JenW said...

Great photo & story. I took a riding lesson a few years ago & "hadn't been on a horse in a while" either.
(Our ponies actually came to the house for birthday pony rides which was a major event for the kids on the block in our small working class railroad town.) Ever since the lesson, I have a greater respect for the riders and horses and I pay closer attention to those scenes in movies. Amazing....& way to go Cowboy!

Lally said...

Why thank you m'am...