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Thunder the horse
Star of  the " Thunder" TV series




An NBC Saturday morning television children's show called Thunder starring the horse of the same name was one of many well trained horses that reared in fighting scenes.

The sad time for horses in the movie was before 1940. Alot of horses were badly hurt or died for movie excitement. A 1940 Jesse James movie 8 horses were killed by tripping them with wires. Let's hope now and in the future it won't happen again. Best efforts are done today to protect the horses. Training is the key to safety.

Each horse has its hoof in sponge rubber to soften kicks and mouths are taped to prevent biting . Every precaution is taken in scene involving horses. To make the scene look more action packed it is filmed at a very slow speed then at regular speed looks fast and furious. When a horse fall is done preparations include digging a hole to fill with soft loose dirt to cushion the horse. Basically the horse stunts may be safer than for a stunt man.

The SPCA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is on the movie set. Countless hours are spent by horse trainers to have a safe result obtained without abuse.

The example of quicksand struggle, fighting wild animals, falling into water, windy dusty or rainy stormy conditions, and fire scenes are thoughtfully done. It can take 3 months to train the horse for each job. The horses must trust the trainer - if not - things will fall apart.

Horses are required to have 10 minutes of each 1 hour work by the American Humane Society. Dummies are used in place of stunt men or actors who do their own stunt work in training of the horses. If the horse is to drag someone by the stirrup they practise until it is perfect. Make up is also used on horses to make them look injured and starved. Wild animal fights are filmed separately. Fake snakes or other animal shots are spliced in the mix of camera shots to make it appear to be real danger. A mud hole is dug and the horse is walked through several times to be accustomed to the conditions. The head never is to go under but to appear as a struggle in quicksand. This is done one time with at least 3 cameras to get enough footage of film clips to use in the finished product. Soft Balsa wood is used if a horse is to go through a fence in the movies and full gallops have a time limit.

A horse named Jerry Brown, a professional falling horse. He has leaped into the water by a 75 foot drop. Only certain horses are fallers. They are not to be forced. Just as people - some like jumping out of air planes - others don't. Also the stunt man named Cliff Lyons was on the horse that took the fall. Jerry Brown was given the Craven Award in 1951 for all those falls.

Comments & Info From:
May 1998 Loretta Kemsley

Jerry Brown, belonged to Hudkin Bros. Movie Stable, but was so popular he was used by most of the stables. Jerry was a non-descript bay (good thing for the roles he played because the movie goer never consciously identified him from one movie or scene to the next. He could fall several times in one movie alone and not be recognized as the same horse) who was fearless when he worked. Of course, the ground was always primed and soft. Fall horses were always treated gingerly, so they would not injure themselves, for two reasons: One, their work was valuable and an injury meant they couldn't work. Two, if they became afraid to fall, their career was over.
I remember the stunt man Tony Epper (the entire Epper family worked in stunts. They lived not far from me also) working
Jerry Brown at the stables. They were working at slow speed and Jerry made his mark every time, one thing he was famous for. He didn't take extra steps. If X was where he was cued, it was at X where he dropped.

The Craven Award was named to honor the late Richard C. Craven who became the first director of the AHA (American Humane Association) of Hollywood, California in 1940. The award was given to animals that ordinarily have no opportunity for a starring role, but excel in training, talent, ability, and, of course, are humanely handled. Also the Patsy award (like an Oscar) for animals who have done outstanding performances in television, and the motion picture industry.
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A horse named Diamond won a Patsy award in 1952 "Flame of Araby"

Bracket a jumping horse was a 1953 Craven award winner.

A horse named Mr. Dugan is a top actor for tough vicious fighting scenes.

image California - the horse in movie called " The Palomino " received Patsy award in 1951. image
In 1954 the horse named Cocaine who did falls was given the Craven award in 1971 & 1972 as outstanding stunt horse.

1955 winners of the award were Outlaw the horse in the movie "Black Horse Canyon" &
Beauty the horse in the motion picture "Outlaw Stallion" Beauty became the famous Fury!

The Lone Ranger's horse, Silver won the award in 1957.

Flicka star horse of "My Friend Flicka" won Craven award in 1958.

This photo was between 1950 - 1960's
Trigger visiting a school in a town in Ohio.
In Memory of
"King of the Cowboys"
Roy Rogers
November 5, 1911 - July 6, 1998
He was 86 years old
funeral services
Saturday, July 11, 1998
in Apple Valley, California
Roy Rogers horse, Trigger won a Patsy award for the role in "Son of Paleface" & 1958 the Craven award winner. Glenn Randall Sr. trained Trigger.
Triggerson the grandson of Roy Rogers horse, Trigger. He is part Quarter horse, Tennessee walker, Golden Palomino, a 10 year old gelding in 1998. Roy Rogers raised this horse. This talented horse lives at a ranch in Acton, California.

Triggerson taking a bow

Tony the wonder horse in the show "Hoofs and Goofs" in 1958 the Award of Excellence

1959 Craven award recipient was Baldy known for rearing .

Tonka the horse in the film of the same "Tonka" was given 2nd place Patsy award in 1959.

1960 3rd place Patsy award went to North Wind the horse for the motion picture "The Sad Horse".

Sharkey, Dempsey, Choctaw, & Joker ( four team horses) Craven award winners in 1960.

image King Cotton the horse in the film "Pepe" in 1961 was 1st place winner of Patsy award. This horse was also trained by Ralph McCutcheon.

Comments & Info From:
May 1998 Loretta Kemsley

If my memory serves, King Cotten's most famous role was that of "Snowfire "in the movie by the same name. He was a wild stallion which was captured and tamed by a girl. This was a common theme then.

Patsy Award winner Mister Ed the talking horse did some tricks too. Lifting a ladder around opening & closing doors. Carried objects around such a a bird in a cage & pulling covers over himself in a bed.
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Napoleon a trick show horse 
owned & trained by Benny Martinez,
a professional trick rider/ roper &
has performed at the Will Rogers ranch.

Flame the horse was 3rd place Patsy award winner in the film "The Clown and the Kid" in 1962.

Another horse who was known to rear, named Mickey O'Boyle worked about 15 minutes to do 3 or 4 rears per day. This horse won the 1963 Craven Award for fighting abilities.

Montie Montana Sr. & Rex were at numerous fairs & rodeo shows, the Hollywood Christmas & Tournament of Roses parades. I saw Montie Montana Sr. with Rex. They came to the school I attended (1960's) with demonstations of roping and lariot twirling. Rex would stand unafraid of the rope encircling him. Montie has been trick rider / roper / actor / & producer. Montie & Rex are in some of the Roy Rogers movies. One was called "Down Dakota Way" Montie Montana Sr.
June 10, 1910 - May 20, 1998
Montie & Rex

Lucky Buck a trained lay-down horse won the Craven award in 1965.

A horse named Smokey was the star of performances requiring dragging someone from the stirrup. Smokey got the Craven award in 1966 for all the tricks.
image The horse called Albarado who can be seen in the Disney movie, "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit" honored with the 1st place Patsy award in 1969.
Kilroy a horse who specialized in falls won Craven award in 1970

Ott the horse who did cameo appearances on the "Lassie" television series aced the 1972 Patsy winner also 1972 & 1973 for one episode of "Bonanza" TV series, then 1976 for another award for work in "Run, Joe, Run"

1977 awards went to Shosone the horse in film "Mustang Country" Yoyo the horse in "Banjo Hackett" & "Shaggy D.A." Gus the mule in show of the same name "Gus".

Domingo the horse was in "Peter Lundy & the Medicine Hat Stallion" was given award in 1978.

1983 award went to Kit Kat the horse on the television series "The Fall Guy" owned & trained by Richard Lundeen.
image "Perfect Strangers"
television series
another trained
stunt horse plays
an ill race horse
on one episode.:

Glenn Randall Sr. who trained the horses  (Chariot horses) in the movie "Ben Hur" began work in Italy eleven months before filming began. Each horse had to be taught individually then in pairs then three till all four horses to pull the chariot. There were 9 chariot teams. 72 horses were trained only 36 where in the film. Horses have understudies just as people. The Lippizan team who leaped the chariot over several crashed vehicles were trained weeks ahead and practiced as dancers do - leaping higher than required for the scene. Sorry to say Glenn Randall Sr. has passed away in 1993. Corky Randall, son of Glenn Randall Sr., has trained many other horses for your entertainment the latest 1998 movies "The Mask of Zorro", and was the head horse trainer for the 1995 movie called "Buffalo Girls". Glen Randall Jr. also continues to train the horses for your movie favorites. Universal Studios Wild Wild West Show stunt horses were trained by the Randall family.

"Two-Bits and Pepper",
starring this pony

& horse using their real life names.
The horse saved the pony from being stolen by opening the horse trailer door as it was moving down the road. The trainer was Ramon Becerra

It was filmed in
Santa Barbara
& Santa Ynez, California

January 1978 "Black Beauty" the mini 5 part series for television aired. It is 84 minutes long and was filmed near Lexington Kentucky. Bobby Davenport was horse trainer. A quarter horse called Docs Keepin Time played the role of "Black Beauty" for Warner Bros. 1994 movie.

A novel called "Goldenrod" written by Herbert Harker was made into a 2 hour drama for CBS consisting of a story of the Canadian rodeo circuit as it was in the 1950's.
image The 1991 movie called
"Lucky Luke"
with this talented horse,
Jolly Jumper
was trained by
Mario Luraschi.

Monty Roberts known as the "Horse Whisperer" is a race horse trainer and had been documented from various sources as being the stunt person on the "National Velvet", "My Friend Flicka" and "Thunderhead" movies of the 1940's.(April 1999) It may not be true that he did stunt work on the movies.)

In Memory of Roddy McDowall
September 17, 1928 - October 3, 1998
a cancer victim
with "Flicka" in the movie "My Friend Flicka"

High Tower who was "Pilgrim" and Rambo Roman known as "Rimrock" were quarter horses used in the movie, "The Horse Whisperer" trained by Rex Peterson.

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