There's an article in Sunday Dec 26,1993 New York Times entitled
"Teachin' Ridin',Ropin' and Fallin' Outta the Durn Saddle" by
Joel Engel. Here are some excerpts (and paraphrases)
...Rudy Ugland, head rangler for "Geronimo" was responsible for the
horseback sequences. Jason Patric learned his skills at Mr. Uglnad's
ranch north of LA, where the wrangler keeps up to 80 horses for movie
"Mr. Ugland, who is 55, says there were about 700 wranglers in the
business when he began riding in television westerns in 1956. "Every
television show was a western,"he says. "Now there may be 35 active
wranglers making a living."
Their fortunes have turned upward since "Dances with Wolves" in 1990.
That epic seems to have sparked a number of films- even television shows
like "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" - that require riding. In fact,
anything set before the turn of the century may use wranglers. This year
horses have played a part in "Sommersby", "Much Ado About Norhing",
"The Ballad of little Jo","Into the West", Geronimo", "The Three
Muskateers" and "Tombstone" among others.
(upcoming westerns are mentioned - including "Wyatt Earp", "Frank &
Jesse","Outlaws", "Bad Girls" (all female western) and "The Quick and
In nearly four decades of wrangling, Mr. Ugland claims he's never
met an actor he couldn't rain to ride. Apparently he never met Charlie
Sheen...Mr. Sheen had announced even before filming that he was phobic
about horses; the horses in turn seemed unwilling to do what he wanted.
Assistant wranglers had to catch Mr. Sheen, whose horse was running away with
him. After that, he refused to repeat the scene, forcing Mr. Herek to use
a stunt double. ( In Three Musketeers)...The movie's Spanish mounts,
which the director had been told were the finest, turned out to be
too smart for their own good. They began galloping everytime Mr. Herek
yelled "Action!". Eventually he had to substutite a word like "bananna" or
use a hand gesture" .....
It takes months to teach a horse to drop down. Mr. Ugland says. The
process begins with pulling their heads, then making them fall to one knee,
then getting them to lie down and finally rolling them over. "As long
as you don't hurt them they don't mind" he said. The horse repsonds to
a signal - a tug on a cable (hidden under that saddle) that is attached to
The effect can be startling. In the 1989 film "Old Gringo", Jimmy Smits
apparently shoots a horse out from under Gregory Peck. So convinced was
the British Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that the horse
had actually been killed that it banned Columbia Pictures from exhibiting
the film in England. Mr. Ugland received a frantic call from the studio
to confirm that he hadn't,in fact,shot the horse. Then the studio asked
him to prove it - to an English representative of the BSPCA.`
"She came out will a still camera," Mr. Ugland recalls. He brought out
Twister - the horse the BSPCA thought was dead. " I told her to snap the
picture when I gave her the cue-she assured me she was a professional.
Boom, down went Twister, just like he was shot. She never even pressed
the button" Twister lived to star in "Geronimo" too.
In that movie, Mr. Duvall appears to take a tremendous tumble as
Twister goes down, once again the victim of movie gunfire. Mr. Duvall's
stunt double, Dnany Costa, jokes that when the director yelled "Cut", the
crew rushed in to insure that Twister had survived; only then did they
check on him."
END OF ARTICLE
There's also an interesting book THE HOLLYWOOD POSSE: THE STORY OF A
GALLANT BAND OF HOR*** WHO MADE MOVIE HISTORY , By Diana Serra
Cary, Houghton MIfflin, 1975
Ann ( who watches a LOT of westerns in the winter)