Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Hollywood on Horses
SPRING FEVER!! It was a warm, sunny day here in the Valley...another teaser of spring and summer to come.
All of us on the "daylight shift" at the barn spent some time outside on our horses. We basically did walkabouts around the little barn, and up and down the alley between paddocks. None of us was in the mood to work in the covered arena.
During our walkabout, Genevieve and I chatted about how Hollywood gets horses wrong. Mostly we were laughing about the humorous discrepancies that horse folks notice but obviously no one connected with the movie understood.
There was the white horse that morphed from a cute little white cob into a muscular big quarter horse into a sleek thoroughbred as its coat went from white to fleabitten to dappled. Or the chestnut with chrome that had four stockings and a wide blaze when it took off over the fence, but only had three stockings and a narrow stripe when it landed. And there are the Arabians that morph into half a dozen other breeds throughout the movie. For history buffs, Hollywood has yet to explain how New World breeds arrived in ancient Rome. The topper, however, are the gender changes! The adorable gelding rescued by the young heroine that changes anatomy when it jumps must be a biological marvel.
A big laugh is the tweed hacking jacket apparently worn by everyone who rides horses -- at least in Hollywood. Ever notice all the new boots in movies? No one's tall riding boots are broken down at the ankle and faded at the calf. Ditto the chaps. They're never wrinkled, worn smooth, nor is the dye rubbed off from use. And talk about immaculate! None of the actors are coated with horse hair, have green smears across their thighs, or have hay in their hair.
We never realized the western saddle was invented by the ancient Egyptians! Just throw something over the saddle and no one will ever notice the ancient Romans or medieval knights are riding western saddles. Then there are the women riding astride in voluminous skirts in period settings when it would have been scandalous to do so.
All stables are built out of walnut or mahogany with brass fixtures. Hollywood stables lack manure piles and dust -- and nothing is held together with bailing twine. There is no mud, there are no gnaw marks on the stalls, all halters are freshly oiled leather that are neatly hung by the stalls....
Okay...so movies are a visual medium and we non-Hollywood horse folks are less than glamourous in stained breeches, scuffed paddock boots with half chaps, layers of fleece and down in the winter, and helmet hair. Still, a little touch of the REAL horse world wouldn't hurt the story line.