PLUS: HEATH RYAN EYES PARIS QUALIFICATIONS, TOM QUILTY WINNER ASHLEY COLE, QUIET ACHIEVER CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN, PONY DRESSAGE WITH ALISON GILL, PREVIEWING THE YOUNG HORSE CHAMPS, ROGER FITZHARDINGE’S HEADSHAKER, KERRY MACK ON PERFECTING PIROUETTES, KEEPING HORSES ON SAFARI, LADY GAGA & DJANGO UNCHAINED.
AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHER
LET THE QUALIFYING GAMES BEGIN
BY HEATH RYAN
THE EQUINE MAGIC BEHIND OUTBACK SPECTACULAR
BY ADELE SEVERS
FROM BACKSTEP TO DRIVING FORCE
BY ADELE SEVERS
FAB FOUR EARN OUR TICKET TO PARIS
BY ADELE SEVERS
AUSSIES ON THE WORLD STAGE AT ERMELO
BY ADELE SEVERS
AN ENDURING PARTNERSHIP
BY ADELE SEVERS
‘DJANGO UNCHAINED’ BEHIND THE CURTAIN
BY SUZY JARRATT
JEREMY HAS ME SCRATCHING MY HEAD
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN, THE QUIET ACHIEVER
BY MIM COLEMAN
BEING A HORSE IN AFRICA
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
ALISON & DENALI RAISE THE PONY PROFILE
BY ROGER FITZHADINGE
THE LADY WHO LOVES HORSES
BY BERNARD BALE
BY DR KERRY MACK
Jamie Foxx starring as Django in 'Django Unchained'.
Notorious for his violent films, Quentin Tarantino went out of his way to make it clear that no horses suffered any mistreatment in his 2012 blood-thirsty blockbuster Django Unchained.
Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx starred in Django Unchained.
“We did wild, amazing stuff but it was all very safe…”
“No horses were harmed in the making of this film” is a standard disclaimer from the American Humane Association that usually appears in small, insignificant print at the end credits – cinemagoers have often vacated their seats by this time so never see it. In Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino insisted the disclaimer appear at the very top of all the credits.
Featuring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson, the film charts the story of former slave Django (Foxx) after he is freed and joins with bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Waltz) on a quest to find his wife, Broomhilda (Washington), and rescue her from a brutal plantation owner (DiCaprio).
In an early sequence when Schultz is driving his carriage a gunfight ensues. Schultz shoots a horse in the head which falls on top of its rider. The shot horse was a dummy and had squibs on its neck which shot out blood. The live horses in these shooting scenes wore earplugs. “If you’re making a movie, part of the whole aspect is it’s supposed to be make-believe,” the director said. “I don’t want to see a real death when I watch a movie. That’s just not what it’s about.”
This spaghetti-type western was a blood-soaked indictment of slavery, full of violent confrontations, gunfights and torch-wielding vigilantes. There were over 100 stunt people and a whole lot of horses. The intense action was accomplished without hurting a single horse. “We did wild, amazing stuff but it was all very safe – you just needed the time to train them,” said Tarantino.
In the winter scene where Schultz and Django ride with the snow rising up to the horses’ legs, production had a platform placed under the fake snow. The platform was covered with sandpaper to give traction and the horses wore cleated shoes.
Two of his horses portrayed Fritz – one which pulled the wagon named “Cimarron”, and “Ribbon”, which was Schultz’s riding horse. A few years earlier Ribbon had been the main mount for Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma. This gelding, which had a violent streak, was saved from the slaughterhouse by Hendrickson. Over time the horseman eradicated the problem and Ribbon became a very versatile equine actor.
Waltz immersed himself in riding and horsemanship. “He never missed a day of lessons,” recalled a wrangler. “He wanted to know how his character would sit in a wagon, how he would look on a horse; he didn’t want to just get the basics right. He was dedicated.”
The actor had said “these people told me how to read horses’ behaviour, they really know about them.”
When asked by a magazine journalist how he rated his equestrian skill, Christoph Waltz replied: “It should be better than it is, but riding’s like singing, you need to do it on a regular basis to do it elegantly, so it’s at least sufferable for the other creatures involved, be it your family at home in terms of singing or the poor horse in terms of riding.”
Jamie Foxx had been given a quarter horse mare for his birthday four years prior to filming 'Django Unchained'. Her name was ‘Cheetah’ and she appeared in the film.
Jamie Foxx knew a bit about them as he’d been given a quarter horse mare for his birthday four years previously. Her name was Cheetah.
“Very athletic with good balance,” Hendrickson had said in Petrina Day Mitchum’s Hollywood Hoofbeats, “but she hadn’t worked on a movie before and needed to get used to being on a set. Wrangler Mark Warrack spent a lot of time getting her acclimatised; and he taught her to do a 360-degree reining spin and a Spanish walk.” The mare does them at the end of the picture when Django and his wife are reunited.
The script also called for Foxx to ride a palomino that he gallops to the plantation where his wife is imprisoned. Silky Wiltshire got the job. A mixed breed born and bred at the Turtle Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, he was taught to pull a wagon, cope with explosions and work alongside a camera car. In the high-speed scene Foxx is bareback and appears to be riding without a bridle. In fact, Silky was fitted with a monofilament bridle that gave the actor the ability to stop and steer but is invisible on film.
Filming 'Django Unchained'.
The ranch also provided animals for use in shoot-outs and as pack horses and doubles. It is owned by Robin Wiltshire who in 2022 was the subject of a short Netflix documentary My Heroes Were Horses. Originally from Australia, he trains, among other things, the Clydesdales for Budweiser commercials.
“There was also another Australian influence…”
Tarantino had learnt to ride several years before making Django Unchained. “I saw an episode of Animal Planet about riding safaris in Africa. I wanted to go on one and got in touch with Daryl Hannah,” (She had played a one-eye assassin in his two Kill Bill films). “Daryl’s almost part-horse and knows a lot about them. She told me who to see and I took lessons twice a week for a month. I learned to ride pretty darn good,” he said modestly. “On the safari we herded wildebeest and zebras and were chased by elephants. It was really cool.”
There was also another Australian influence on this picture, which was dialogue assistance from actor John Jarratt (no relation to this writer) who Tarantino had called his favourite Aussie actor. “Years ago when he came here doing publicity for Kill Bill, he said he’d like me to be in one of his films. Ten years later I got to be in one of them.”
In this cameo role, John plays an employee of the LeQuint Dickey Mining company who ends up being shot in the chest by Django. Tarantino appears with him as another Australian.
“I also had to drive a horse and dray, which was fine as I’d done it in a few pictures like We of the Never Never and the mini-series The Last Outlaw when I played Ned Kelly. I helped Quentin with his accent,” Jarratt told Equestrian Life, “and was on set regularly, except on the day they filmed his dialogue where he sounded rather like a South African instead of an Aussie. Admittedly it’s the toughest accent in the world to imitate.
Australian John Jarratt, shot by Jamie Foxx.
“But we had a ton of fun. He really enjoys himself, but at the same time he’s insanely bright. He takes filming seriously but not himself. Quentin knows exactly what he wants.”
And his filmic decisions pay off. Not only did Django Unchained gross more than $400 million at the box office, it won a raft of awards including Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs.
Django Unchained is on various streaming services and available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Next month, Miracle of the White Stallions, Walt Disney, 1963. EQ