Horses Get Star Treatment on Set

“(Spielberg) told us from the beginning that the horse always has to be happy,” one production member said.
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When you’re making horses into movie stars like Steven Spielberg and his crew did with War Horse, it’s important to make peace and fun–not war–with the horse, according to the film’s equine professionals and an international horse behavior expert.

"Steven (Spielberg) told us from the beginning that the horse always has to be happy," said War Horse‘s U.K. horse master Dan Naprous. "Even when (the horse is) playing the miserable scenes, he still has to interact with somebody. The horse always had to be intrigued, had to enjoy going to work, to try to give you something fresh every day."

The equine actors–like their human counterparts–would have "good days and bad days," according to equine makeup artistic director Ali Bannister. "It was our job to make sure that we allowed enough time for fidgeting," she said.

Sometimes that meant skipping filming horse scenes that day and moving on to something else, Naprous added: "Steven would say, ‘That’s not a problem. We’ll do something else instead

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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