by M.Garzon, author of the Blaze of Glory book series.

How’d you like to see not one, but two new horse-related TV series?  We all want to see hot men in breeches quality equestrian content, right?

I recently got to be on site for the filming of two TV teasers, one for the Blaze of Glory (working title) series, and the other for Awesome Possum Pony Club.  A crazy amount of work goes into filming a trailer, but I can only tell you about my small peripheral role.

Filming was supposed to take place over two weekends in late October, but then autumn pounced and leaves started hurling themselves off trees at an alarming rate. In the interest of being expedient and avoiding frozen actors, the producers settled on three days in mid-October to shoot.  The beautiful location – a stable in St-Lazare, QC – was secured.  All systems were go… almost.

The casting had been done in September.  The main equine character in Awesome Possum is a Canadian horse (Canada’s at-risk national breed), and I’d found a local horse – let’s call him Blackie – to play the part.  A week before filming started, I called the horse’s owner to confirm the details.  I left a message but didn’t hear back.  That seemed a bit odd, but people are busy, so the assistant producer tried leaving some messages.  More radio silence.  On Sunday morning my kids had a riding lesson.  While they were up-downing I went to Blackie’s barn, down the street.  It turns out that Blackie’s owner’s plans had changed, which was understandable.  The inability to pick up a phone and TELL us was not.  Understandable, that is.

So here it was, four days before filming, and we were star-less.  I broke the bad news to the producers at Equestrian Universe Inc., who started searching for a replacement. I went home, got online, and posted our plea everywhere I could think of: community groups, my Facebook page, a Canadian horse breeders’ site, you name it.  Our criteria were: a black horse, Canadian or similar, long mane (preferably, as he was supposed to look semi-feral), and could act wild at liberty.  Oh, and the horse had to have a current negative Coggins.

Pictures started trickling in.  There was a lovely Canadian mare with a semi-long mane, but she was chubby and sedate and her owner doubted we’d get more than gentle canter out of her.  A 17hh behemoth would have dwarfed the child actors, and in any case he had no Coggins.  By nightfall we were seriously considering a TB-cross event horse with a short name – at least she was black!  Desperate much?  Yup.

I woke up Monday morning to pictures of the perfect horse in my email inbox.  He was a purebred Canadian, four years old, and full of fire.  The only trouble was, his Coggins had expired.  The producers offered to pay for the test, the horse’s owners (Canadream Farm) actually put him on a trailer and took him to the vet’s to have blood drawn, and the results were emailed in time for Canadream Alex Xcellence to come and dazzle us in the role of ‘Panther’.  It turned out that Xcellence was a stallion, which I hadn’t known, and whether it was the testosterone or his age (only four), he was perfect as Panther – wild when he needed to be, yet sweet with the kids at the fence.

‘Panther’, ‘Sidney’ & ‘Ben’ with producer Murray Shostak.

‘Panther’, ‘Sidney’ & ‘Ben’ with producer Murray Shostak.

The APPC trailer was shot on Wednesday, but the fun wasn’t over.  Thursday morning dawned chilly and drizzly for the shooting of the Blaze of Glory trailer.  In September we’d found a lovely Trakehner mare named Pacifica to play one of the roles, but – horses, right? – she was injured and on stall rest by the time we started filming (she’s recovering nicely).  She was quickly edited out of the script, leaving only Blaze (played by the handsome Wyatt) to represent for the equines.  He was on his way to an Ian Millar clinic the very next day, but he didn’t let that distract him from his acting duties.

Wyatt (Play Boy) taking a break from being a serious jumper to play school pony to some actors.

Wyatt (Play Boy) taking a break from being a serious jumper to play school pony to some actors.

I lurked on set, running to the tack shop for last-minute wardrobe changes and annoying the producer and director with comments like, “She wouldn’t wear that in the barn,” and, “That’s not how you hold a dandy brush.”  To be fair, they have a million things to worry about, like angles and lighting and equipment issues, and the stars coming down with colds from filming in the rain all day.  Every project has hiccups – it’s how they’re handled that matters, which in this case was calmly and smoothly. We look  forward to sharing the trailers on HJU!

Panther

Panther

I’d like to thank Dunelm Equestrian Center for lending us both equines and expertise; to Delle Donne Stables for letting Willow the pony come be an ‘extra’; and to Centre Équestre  l’Intégrité for their kind support and for providing a “pony play mate” for Panther.

M. Garzon
Find out more about the Blaze of Glory book series at mgarzon.ca