To promote the new movie, The Lone Ranger, Silver – the horse from the movie – has been traveling around the country and last week, made a stop at the Calgary Stampede. I got the chance to sit down with trainer Bobby Lovgren and talk about working on the movie and working with Silver.
The handsome cast horse that plays Silver is actually named Silver in real life. He is an 11-year-old gelding, and comes from California.
Lovgren had known Silver for two years previous to starting the movie. Since he only gets three months to train and find the horses for movies, it was helpful to already have some knowledge about the horse. Silver was also the only horse on the set that had previous set experience – another positive advantage to using him.
For Lovgren this was a very different film because of Silver’s unique color. Other movies that require darker color horses tend to be easier because Lovgren can \”cheat.\” Meaning, the use of make-up and dyeing can be used to achieve a certain look the producers and directors are looking for in the movie. The problem is white can’t be cheated, it shows everything like dust and dirt. This then requires almost constant bathing to maintain the color.
“If you bleach [a horse] or anything they turn yellow, so you can use very little make-up,” said Lovgren.
The attitude, and athletic ability all came second to Silver\’s color. He simply needed to be white. Lovgren said the biggest challenge for his team was keeping the horse white on set.
Both Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer had interactions with Silver. Hammer had worked with Lovgren previously on another movie and so it made his scenes with the horse much easier.
“Johnny was more worried about me and my horse than about his own acting,” said Lovgren.
During the scenes with horses, trainers are an integral part of the scene. While they do not show up in the shot, the trainer is the one cueing the horse to turn its head or rear, not the actor.
“You have to do it 30 times in a row,” related Lovgren. It all comes down to repetition for the horse.
I was also curious as to how Lovgren got involved in training cast horses. Originally from South Africa and working around a jumper and dressage barn that did some movies and commercials. Lovgren eventually met some Americans while working there, which led to introductions to Glenn and Corky Randal who were big cast horse trainers in Hollywood. Lovgren said it came down to him being in the “right place at the right time.”
After hundreds of baths and months of training and shooting, Silver is finished movie making for now. He has a few more appearances to promote, The Lone Ranger, he will then be going back home to California for some much needed rest. As for Bobby Lovgren, he’ll be waiting for the next call to see what movie he’ll be doing next.
By Emma Jekabson
(Western Horse Review intern)