Horses have been making film appearances since the very beginning of the industry, with some equines becoming quite famous. Because of the popularity and demand of horses, film companies need to hire experts in the field because they are no ordinary actors and require special care on set.
A film horse requires a groom. Not a husband-to-be, but rather someone to keep a horse looking their very best. Throughout filming, grooms make sure that a horse is well cared for and that their food, water, stalls, grooming, and bathing routines are maintained. Due to their close connection with the animal, grooms are usually the horse's escort between locations.
Working with animals requires a safety expert, and equine safety is very important not only for the horse, but for everyone else on set. Horses are often required to run at high speeds in chases or battle scenes and it is the responsibility of the safety expert to make sure that the horses, stunt men, and crew are aware of the horse's path and that no one or nothing gets in its way. Safety experts usually have some sort of film training and are aware of camera angles, allowing them to direct the positioning of the horse so it will look the best on camera.
Horse trainers are vital in any film. Just like a human actor, a horse needs to know where to walk, gallop and move if they are asked and it is the trainer's responsibility to teach them. In addition to helping the horse, the trainer teaches the human actors how to interact with the animal.
In war films and westerns, there are often multiple horses on battlefields taking part in bloody warfare and being brutally slaughtered. Thank goodness it is only an illusion! These scenes usually involve stunt riders or expert-trained equestrians. Usually quite athletic and agile, these actors know enough about horses to ensure safety among both crew and horses.
Working with animals is no easy task and ensuring their safety and well-being of all involved is of utmost importance. By hiring trained individuals to look after the horse helps ensure this.
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