2020 AHC Webinar Putting Horses in the Public Eye August 17
(Washington, DC)– If you want to learn, get inspired and go behind-the-scenes with people who excel in putting horses in the public eye in ways that help our industry interest newcomers to horses and lifelong enthusiasts — then join the American Horse Council for a must-see webinar on August 17, 2020 at 1:00 PM ET. Featuring a dynamic panel of experts, from television and film to live performances, they are masters at captivating the public with horses!
Ashley Avis is an American director, screenwriter and producer, who united her passions for horses and films for the upcoming feature film Black Beauty, which she wrote and directed in this modern-day reprisal of Anna Sewell’s classic tale. Scheduled for release in 2020,Black Beautystars Kate Winslet, Mackenzie Foy and Iain Glen. Ashley is currently writing and show running a new television horse-themed series based on the iconic Breyer toy brand for Ron Howard, Brian Frazer, and Stephanie Sperber of Imagine Entertainment. On the release horizon for 2021, is Ashley’s documentary filmWILD BEAUTY: Mustang Spirit of the West.
Kansas Carradine comes from a Hollywood acting legacy, but horses have defined her performing career. As a member of Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, Kansas appeared across the US and abroad trick riding and roping. Other credits include Disney’s “Hidalgo,” MTV, ESPN, CBS, and worldwide sporting events. Although raised in a rodeo arena, Kansas developed her unique style while touring with the acclaimed spectacle Cavalia, thrilling fans from California to Australia Roman-riding a 4-horse team and more. With a long view on Cavalia’s success, Kansas also worked behind the scenes—acquiring and training new trick horses for the show.
Plus author, journalist, and media consultant Elizabeth Kaye McCall who has been involved on the entertainment side of the horse industry for over 20 years. From writing about horses in film and TV to working with Arabian Nights to the French equestrian theater troupe Zingaro, she became the original horse industry liaison for Cavalia and helped build its reputation in the North American market.
As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.
The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen’s associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.
Here’s more on the movie that is going to be released on Disney+ soon.
Production Assistant Tim Farley’s Flashbacks on Filming.
“I met director Carroll Ballard when he and my dad were looking for an Arabian stallion to play The Black,” says Tim Farley, who was still in college, finishing a photography degree at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California when his father Walter Farley’s beloved novel, The Black Stallion, began its transformation to the big screen.
“I went to talk to Carroll and to Fred Roos, the producer, to see if I could get a job. Of course, they said I could have a job. They didn’t say they would pay me, at first. I was a 21-year-old kid who knew nothing about making movies,” says Farley laughing.
He would end up skipping graduation ceremonies to start on the film, which began production in Toronto in 1977.
“My first job was working in the office,” Farley recalls. “The film was in preproduction at that point. One of my assignments was to make copies of all the script changes for the crew. However, I also ran off an extra set of copies to send to my dad. So, he would send them back with all these comments on them, of course, and they were like, ‘Where is he getting all this information?’ I was his mole! They weren’t real happy about that, to tell you the absolute truth.”
Still, it brought benefits. “Actually, my dad came up with the sequence in the jockey’s room before The Black races. It became a humorous scene in the movie, because they kept adding weight to this little kid. The way the script was originally written had Alec sneaking weight into his pockets, or putting on a weight belt, or something. My dad said, ‘Nobody would do that. The officials add all the handicap weight jockeys must carry. They would never sneak weight.’ He came up with some helpful ideas.”
Farley smiles when he thinks back on it. “It was fascinating driving to the set daily with Mickey Rooney in Toronto, the location for our 1940s New York scenes. Mickey had been in a long career slump, but The Black Stallion brought him an Oscar nomination and he returned to the stage.”
When the production went overseas, Farley went too.
“From set of the Black Stallion when I was 22. Don’t know the photographer, it was sent to my Dad [Walter Farley] and on his office wall,” says Farley.
“The most memorable days for me were on the island. It took us months to get some of those shots,” he says. “My screen credit was ‘production assistant,’ but with only about 30 of us on crew [there], I did a little bit of everything. It was shot almost like a documentary, with a small crew on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
A small crew and not many — make that no — creature comforts: “It was exciting, even though we had to take cold showers!” Farley says. “Working on those beach sequences, there were no hotels. We stayed in an empty school with cold-water showers. Every once in a while you’d see a tourist come through for an hour or two, but we were pretty far out.”
The remote location brought unique challenges. “We had to do a lot of tracking shots, like The Black running down the sand bar, especially when Alec’s learning to ride and keeps falling off. We had to kind of wing it. We couldn’t say, ‘Oh, we need some dolly track here for 500 yards and we have to go 30 miles an hour. So, how are you going to do that?”
The answer was improvise: “They came up with a Citroën 2CV. It’s like a French version of a Volkswagen Beetle. We took the doors off and the seats out. We used that as our [camera] dolly to race down the beach. The horse was going pretty fast.”
Rarely without his own camera, Farley often photographed the star horse, Cass-Olé. “He and Kelly had a good relationship because they spent so much time together before the movie started. But Cass-Olé was kind of like the character of The Black. He was very independent, knew he was gorgeous, and that everybody loved him. He’d take control if you’d let him. On the other hand, Cass was gentle with Kelly. Corky Randall trained Cass for months to be able to work him at liberty and have him listen to voice commands.
” Dad [Walter Farley] editing my pix after getting back. [from filming],” says Farley
“I was one of the lucky people there watching a young Kelly Reno portray Alec Ramsay together with Cass-Olé as The Black. Those scenes on the beach with the magic of the boy and the horse getting to be friends on the island really did happen,” Farley says. “Also, at the end of the movie, where you see that big double rainbow and the horse rolls on the ground and Kelly rolls on the ground — it was totally impromptu. It’s during the credit roll at the very end of the film.”
When filming finished, coming home took some adjustment. “It was almost like in the movie — when Alec arrives back in America — that first sequence when he’s in a real bathroom with running water. That’s kind of what happened to us too,” Farley remembers.
Forty years later, the memories from those months working on the film are still vivid and exciting. “Learning something new every day … you never knew who might show up — Harrison Ford, Matt Dillon, Francis [Ford Coppola], even Scorsese. I met Fellini at Cinecittà [Studios, where the shipwreck scene was filmed in Rome].”
But the best part, Farley says, was “just being part of this small family that included the wonderful horses and horsemen, from cowboys to Hollywood.”
(Lead image) Tim Farley trying his hand at liberty work rearing the Black Stallion that starred in the long-running (now closed) Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in Orlando. Walter Farley was close friends with the family and gave permission for the black stallion namesake to only be used there. Curious tidbit. Glenn Randall Sr. (Corky’s father) did the original horse training at Arabian Nights.
Stunt coordinator Glenn Randall Jr. wore many hats during the making of the movie classic.
Shortly after Glenn Randall Jr. came onboard as stunt coordinator on The Black Stallion he was headed to a horse show in Texas. “They told me they’d committed to this black Arab. They wanted me to go see him. I said, ‘fine,’” recalls Randall, whose father, Glenn Randall Sr., trained Roy Rogers’ Trigger. “Myself, the producer, and I think the assistant director flew to Texas to see this horse.” A black Arabian stallion named Cass-Olé was being shown by Francesca Cuello when Randall met the girl’s father, Dr. Leo Cuello, at the competition.
“We were sitting in the upper bleachers in the arena. They had a little restaurant up there. It was a magnificent horse,” says Randall. “We had a talk and during the conversation he [Cuello] said the deal he’d made is we’d have to take their trainer to get possession of the horse. I said, ‘Really. I’d like to talk to the trainer.’”
When he did, Randall says, “I realized he was a show-ring trainer and had no knowledge, at all, of the type of training we were going to have to put on this horse. So I went back and said, ‘Gentlemen, we’ve got problems. If you want us to take your trainer along and let me hire another trainer and pay yours to watch while we train him, that’s fine with me.’”
Costs nixed that option.
“I said, ‘Well, then I can’t do the movie,” Randall continues. “The doctor spoke up and said, ‘I understand what you’re saying, Glenn, but the problem is the horse belongs to my daughter.”
Dr. Cuello’s daughter, then a teen, would only be assured that the horse would be safe if her trainer went along. But, Cuello allowed, “If she will let the horse go without the trainer, that’s fine with me.”
After winning her class, Francesca joined the group with her father and met Randall. “They introduced her and told her who I was. I said, ‘Would you walk with me for a little while? I want to go get a Coke.’ We went to another table away from her dad and the producers and all the other crew and I sat down and started talking to her.”
“I said, ‘I love your horse. He would be a wonderful black stallion you could be proud of. The problem is, we’re going to have to train your horse to do things he doesn’t know how to do. He’s going to have to work at liberty and learn a lot of different things. Your trainer is not qualified to do that type of training.’
“I explained to her who I was and what my background was. I said, ‘If you want the horse to go, you’re going to have to put your trust in me. I promise you that I’ll protect him with my life.’ We went back to the table and her dad said, ‘What do you think?’ She said, ‘I’m going to let the horse go because I trust Glenn.’ So, that’s how we got the horse.”
Randall proceeded to pave the path ahead. “I told the producers I’ve got to get a trainer and we’ll have to ship the horse to California and put him in training four to five months. Then I talked [brother] Corky into doing it,” says Randall.
Already established in Hollywood, his older brother wasn’t keen on the proposition. “Corky didn’t want to do the movie. I talked him into training the horse and it wasn’t easy. He wasn’t known as a horse trainer, as such. He’d been around my dad all of his life and we trained horses and what have you, but he was more of a ‘boss wrangler.’ He was probably one of Hollywood’s top ramrods, or boss wranglers. The Black Stallion launched his career as a horse trainer.”
Having gotten the horse and Corky on board, Randall was sent to the boy who would become the lead with the Black Stallion, Kelly Reno.
“Kelly came to California … got them a motel in Newhall with a swimming pool [near the Randall Ranch]. I spent half my time teaching him how to swim and we’d take him to the barn and let him work with Cass-Olé. His mother was not real sure about us. I promised his mother, ‘On my life, nothing is going to happen to him.’ So, now I’ve given my word on the horse and the little boy!”
He also brought two of his veteran trick horses to double Cass-Olé for difficult scenes. “They were sorrels, but we dyed them black. I had a lot of training on them. The horse that was tied up, wrapped up in ropes [after escaping the shipwreck and reaching the island], that was my horse dyed black.”
Randall’s horse also doubled where The Black gets loose and runs down a street back in America. “We shot that in Toronto — jumped over a car and that kind of stuff,” Randall recalls. “That’s what they hired me for. Doing all the stunt work and setting those things up. I would help them find locations, hire the people that would get the job done, and supervise the whole damn thing. I’m more structured in my work. I have to plan everything and look at every avenue of danger and provide for it.”
When the production got to Sardinia, Randall remembers that director Carroll [Ballard] and the director of photography, Caleb Deschanel, were adamant about having the horse swim 150 to 200 yards offshore.
“We swam our horses a little bit, but I said, “These horses aren’t amphibians. They can only swim a short distance.’ The producer said, ‘We’ve got to have them. What are we going to do?’ I said they’ve got some Camargue horses in France that were raised in the swamp and all they do is swim.’”
(Camargue horses are indigenous to the marshy Camargue wetlands of the Rhone delta in the south of France.)
Heeding Randall’s advice, they bought a white Camargue horse, significantly smaller than Cass-Olé, but it worked. “We dyed him black and used that little horse to do faraway swimming.”
Not only horses had water challenges. By this time, Kelly could swim, “But he wasn’t real brave about it,” Randall says. “One time they wanted to see Kelly far out, about 100 yards off the beach in Sardinia. Carroll just wanted him sitting on this rock outcropping. I gave Kelly a mask and said, ‘We’re going to have to swim out there. I’ll be on the back side of the rock, so they can’t see me but I’ll be right there with you.’
“He said, ‘OK,’ so we swam out to it. I said, ‘Let’s swim around the rock a little bit and get comfortable.’ We started swimming around and I looked down and it took my breath away. The water was so clear you could see 150 or 200 feet down. It was like jumping out of an airplane. It was a shock. When Kelly looked, he almost walked on water back to the rock! But, he did real good for a little kid.”
“I knew it was a good movie after I saw it,” he reflects on The Black Stallion. “I was kind of surprised, but the book had staying power. I did Raiders and ET and a lot of other movies that had legs too and are still being shown today.”
Randall’s credits — working as second unit director to stunt coordinator to stunts — saw him part of a long list of blockbusters, from Indiana Jones and Star Wars to The Mask of Zorro, and more.
“You’re also looking at a generation of films that will never be done again in the fashion that we did them. Back in the day, when my father did Ben Hur, they spent nine months just training the horses for it. In the stunt world, I had to do all my stunts for real. Now they’ve got cables, CGI, blue screen. It’s just a different way of making movies.”
These days, he’s retired and far from Hollywood. On the opposite coast from L.A.’s San Fernando Valley where he grew up, Randall lives on the 30-acre horse farm he built in Aiken, South Carolina, after leaving the movie business behind. “A little piece of heaven,” he says.
I met Hollywood horse trainer Corky Randall in 1997 on my first assignment for Cowboys & Indians. The horses were in training for The Mask of Zorro, one of his last films before retirement. My memories of the Hollywood horse training legend surfaced repeatedly while I was writing about the 40th anniversary of The Black Stallion, the movie that launched Corky’s training career.
“Training is really more understanding the animal than anything else,” Corky told me at one point. “It is also a profession that if you’re going to be very good, or a master, it has to be in your blood or your mind.”
Corky had both. He was a two-time winner of the PATSY Award, the animal trainer’s Oscar.
Born in Gering, Nebraska, in 1929, Corky had polio as a child. His father disagreed with the polio treatment of the day. Instead, he had Corky jumping rope and exercising, and his grandmother rubbed his legs. By age 9 or 10, Corky was galloping Thoroughbred colts in the morning for his father before going to school.
No big wonder that his father, Glenn Randall, Sr., would see horses as part of the regimen that would make his boy well. Randall Sr. trained Roy Rogers’ Trigger and the horses on Ben Hur (yes, the chariots!).
Having survived polio, once Corky started wrangling horses at Republic Studios during high school, he never considered another lifestyle.
While he’d made his name as a horse trainer on The Black Stallion 20-odd years before I met him, Corky still made a point of crediting his brother’s role in his success. “If it weren’t for ‘J.R.’ — ” Corky would say.
J.R. as in “junior”. “Junior” as in Hollywood stunt coordinator Glenn Randall Jr.
In one of the last interviews I did with Corky, he declared Cass-Olé , the black Arabian star of The Black Stallion, his all-time favorite equine actor. “He was so smart and such a character,” Corky said. “Cass-Olé loved to be around people and he loved to make pictures. He was almost human. He even had an expression on his face and horses usually don’t have expressions.
“You run into exceptional animals. They come like people. Some are just outstandingly brilliant in certain fields. They’re kind of like little kids. They like to show off and they’re just very easy to work in a picture. They seem like a well-trained actor — they just fall in there and do their part.”
Corky died in 2009 at the age of 80. I will never forget the sound of his gravelly voice, his kindness, and his willingness to discuss horses and Hollywood.
Nor will I forget something that Corky once said and that I remembered time and again while writing about that very special film: “I think there are still a lot of successful pictures to be made with horses, if you can capture the relationship between the animal and the person, like they did on The Black Stallion.”
Jeanne Rosenberg stumbled into co-writing her first screenplay and it set the stage for a movie career.
Film critic Leonard Maltin joked that Jeanne Rosenberg was an “accidental screenwriter” when he introduced her at TCM Classic Film Festival’s screening of The Black Stallion in Hollywood last year.
A graduate of USC Film School [now USC School of Cinematic Arts], Rosenberg had planned on a documentary film career, until a script analysis she wrote on her favorite childhood book, The Black Stallion, changed everything.
After graduation, she learned the movie was in the making with Carroll Ballard directing. A horse lover from her earliest memory, Rosenberg was determined to wrangle a meeting with Ballard when the film was in preproduction in Canada.
“I called and said, ‘I’m coming your way. Maybe I’ll just stop in. Do you mind?’ I was flying from Los Angeles to the Midwest. They were in Toronto,” Rosenberg says.
“We were supposed to meet for coffee one morning. He was late. I was making notes on a napkin. He showed up, grabbed the napkin out of my hand, and kept the notes.” Then came a life-changing phone call: “Carroll would like you to come back. We need help on the script.”
“It was total chaos when I arrived. Melissa Mathison [who would later write ET: The Extra-Terrestrial] got off another plane,” says Rosenberg, “We met and became this writing team as we were about to shoot. Carroll hadn’t committed to a screenplay. All the actors were there. Everyone! Carroll liked to keep everything open and see what developed. He was driving everyone crazy, of course,” Rosenberg says laughing.
“There were times when we would actually write in the evenings and hand pages to Carroll ahead of time. But usually we were right there [on set] hunkered somewhere in the grass, or in a chair, ripping off pages and throwing them at Mickey Rooney, who would scowl and scowl and then do it. We were writing on set virtually moments before the cameras rolled.”
Rosenberg remembers talking with Carroll about the scene where young Alec, played by Kelly Reno, first sees retired jockey and racehorse trainer Henry Dailey (Mickey Rooney, in a role that would earn him an Oscar nomination) in the big barn.
“Carroll wanted something dramatic. Honestly, I didn’t know that much about narrative filmmaking at that point and I write this scene where Henry’s lurking through the barn, through the shadows, but when it’s the reveal he has a gun in his hand. I show it to Carroll and he goes, ‘No, no, no!!’”
The rewrite worked: “Instead of the gun,” Rosenberg says, “Henry has shaving cream all over his face. It was scary and then, here is this cantankerous, maybe dangerous guy, with shaving cream all over his face!”
A true equestrian, who owns and competes on reining horses, Rosenberg flashes back to when shooting began on 7.7.77, a date emblazoned on her mind.
“We shot the second part of the movie first. I was in Toronto,” she explains. “Part of my job on set was really to protect the horse relationship. I kept reminding Carroll that no one can get close to The Black except for Alec. No one else can lead The Black. I know we lost that a little later in the story, but I was constantly reminding him.”
Meanwhile, her equine education expanded. “I’d never seen liberty work before. I had never seen a trainer stand and raise his arms and get the horse to rear on cue, to go from A to B, and go to a mark. It was extraordinary. It really took my mind somewhere else, made me see whole new possibilities.”
And she got schooled in patience and frustration. “Carroll kept refusing to let us write the island sequence. Of course, we did it anyway,” Rosenberg says. “I did not go overseas. Melissa was there. I know it was really hard and really gorgeous. A tough shoot, the kind of shoot that Carroll Ballard loves, out there in the elements with a much smaller crew. Everyone pitching in to carry gear — here, there, and over rocks.”
It was an extraordinary visual experience captured on film. “That’s what Carroll wanted to make. He has an amazing eye and is quite a storyteller.”
“There are so many angles — high angles and low angles and tracking shots — so many things that are so much easier now. Just send the drone out or put the camera on the cable. It was so hard then and they did it so well.”