10 Jan

Seems to me that many of the early Western actors were deliberately selected because they were genuine cowboys/horsemen. Somewhere along the line this eventually changed however, whereby acting talent and charisma replaced authentic expertise in the saddle.

The Western Film Preservation Society

Wild Bill Elliott Wild Bill Elliott

Part 2: Those Silver Screen Cowboys who were good riders or became good riders

A couple months ago, I started a series on the riding abilities or lack thereof of our silver screen heroes. Part 1 discussed the heroes who really were great horsemen from the start. Unfortunately, my computer crashed and was out of service for 6 weeks and my articles were on the hard drive. Everything seems back normal now and I can continue on with the series. Sorry for the delay buckaroos and buckarettes! On to part 2!

I rate Gene Autry as a good rider and horse person. Some people questioned his riding ability to which he responded: It doesn’t bother me—you are always going to have somebody write stuff like that. What the hell? I don’t know where they get that stuff, though. I was raised on a cattle ranch, and my…

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  1. Marilyn Armstrong January 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Gene Autrey was an AWFUL horseman. He sat like a sack of potatoes. He never claimed to be any good at it until long after his riding years were done. Roy, on the other hand, was solid in the saddle. The Duke was very good. Robert Redford is highly accomplished. So is Harrison Ford and Michael Wilder. Ben Johnson was one of the greats and was a stunt rider before he became an actor.

    Gary Cooper was an actual cowboy and looked like he was born in the saddle. Which he sort of was. James Drury was raised on the back of a horse. There are so many, in the past and now. It helps to really love horses. Garry can recite this stuff in his sleep and sometimes does.


    • jcalberta January 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      I never rode myself so I know nothing. Well … I did get bucked off once. Bareback. Didn’t help that a kid was whipping the horse.
      I can spot a greenhorn though.
      I do recall Garry remarking about Glenn Ford’s unusual riding style …
      Ben Johnson is in the Rodeo Hall of Fame – he seemed to be part of his horse.
      I can’t guess that it would easy to jump into the saddle and look accomplished if you’ve never done it – ?? But I suppose some people have a knack.


      • Chris January 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

        Hey Jer. Maybe you never came with us but I remember when we lived in Drumheller and went to Harry Wade’s farm. He used to let Jen and myself ride a horse called Cotton. We let us use a real old saddle that had the initials SP carved into it. Harry told us that it stood for Slim Pickens who Harry had done the rodeo circuit with before he married. I bet you sat on that saddle bro.


  2. jcalberta January 21, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

    Wow! wish I had. I’d have some claim to fame. I think I only got out to Wade’s place once though, and I never rode.


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