“We treated them more like endurance horses, taking them up and down hills and along trails twice a day. Then I broke my wrist and was put in an office where I had to organise jockeys for the racing sequences.”
Krissy Harris also spent a lot of time inside coordinating the animal department. She had arrived on the job carrying 10 stable rakes. “Heath and I had done a few films in South Africa and I knew stablehands had to work with rubbish implements that were unwieldy and heavy; so I brought some with me from home which were light and easy to handle.”
Hers was a very busy, very big department. With first and second units often filming simultaneously, there was a need to have two of everything. “And when working an animal in a releasing/catching sequence, you require two trainers. One person is hiding over the hill who releases it, the animal goes to the actor and then the person who’s been training it has to cue that animal to stop, nod, rear or whatever is in the script.”
Krissy also had to teach a grey Arabian mare to jump who was Stripes’ love interest, Sandy; organise feed and, most importantly, purchase pilchards for the pelicans!
“We were in South Africa for eight months and before returning to Australia we organised an auction of horses and memorabilia. The producers made money when they sold these horses because they’d become so well trained.” They didn’t sell the zebras; these were turned out on to a predator-free reserve. “They just walked out of the trailer and started munching grass,” Steve Martin recalls.
The film went on to make just over $90 million. EQ
Next time in Equestrian Life’s Horses & Movies series; The Electric Horseman, 1979, starring Robert Redford.
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My Friend Flicka – Equestrian Life, May 2021
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