Equine enthusiasts around the nation are anxiously awaiting the release of the Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse, a book and Broadway sensation slated to make its U.S. big screen debut in the coming weeks.
TheHorse.com spoke with War Horse head horse trainer, Bobby Lovgren, to find out what challenges he faced when preparing the hundreds of horses filmed in the movie.
A veteran horse trainer, Lovgren has worked with the equine stars of dozens of movies including Seabiscuit, The Legend of Zorro, Racing Stripes, and the 2011 rendition of Cowboys and Aliens. It was the relationships he built with the movie producers during these movies that landed him his position in War Horse.
Filmed nearly entirely just outside London, England–except for one equine birthing scene filmed outside of Los Angeles, Lovgren said–Spielberg’s film is based on English writer Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel War Horse, which is set in the countryside and on battlefields in World War I era Europe. Like Anna Sewell’s famed novel Black Beauty, War Horse is told through the eyes of an equine protagonist.
The horse, Joey, and the English boy who raises him, Albert, find themselves on the front lines of the Great War–one in which 1 million horses were sent from Britain to the Western Front in France, and only 62,000 returned.
"We had our hero horses, and then we had a lot of background horses," Lovgren explained. "For the main hero (Joey), there were 10 horses that played the adult horse." Like Black Beauty, War Horse follo