By Kerstie Allen
When I’m not galloping around the polo field, I like to catch up with friends who ride in other equestrian disciplines. While still seeking the adrenaline rush of playing polo, I also enjoy being a stunt woman and specialty rider in the movies and for television shows.
Early call times, often at 3 or 4 in the morning, having to dress up in awkward and oftentimes uncomfortable costumes and sitting hours on set waiting to be told what to do and hearing the word “action” are offset by the joys of a full gourmet food wagon that’s available to us 24/7. I guess you now know the secret that the way to my heart is through my stomach!
Western movie sets require a large amount of horses much like playing polo. In the interest of the horses’ safety, each horse only works a few hours on set. An interesting tidbit you may never have noticed is that most movie horses are solid colors. This is done intentionally so they can be doubled by one or more other horses while on set. I know they aren’t fooling any of you, though, as you can tell the difference between horses at a hundred yards.
I recently did a western series for HBO and after riding in my period costume the first day, I give credit to women who back in the day had to ride for days in corsets, petticoats and stockings on an A-frame western saddle! But once again my discomfort was offset by having a first class seat watching some of the most famous stunt men and women in the world and their amazing trick horses at work.
Problem horses that rear, paw and lay down, the ones you and I couldn’t give away if we wanted to, are seen as stars in the movie business. The horses really enjoy their work and add a majestic, action-packed element to the movie. It’s always inspiring to see and meet horse people who handle and train horses in a different field. I always manage to learn something new and interesting that I can apply to my daily routine that only serves to make me a better horsewoman.
The idea of directing horses with different aids and especially liberty work is always fascinating to watch. Polo horses are clipped and shaved, so if you see me galloping down the polo field with a mane flying it’s probably not a young green horse, but one of my movie horses!
My favorite two hot spots for polo and show jumping are Indio, California, and Wellington, Florida. After spending my summer and fall in California, I decided to head to the East Coast to visit my friends and once again experience the horse heaven that is Wellington. After 3,000 miles, 12 horses, eight states, three blowouts and one dog, I finally arrived in Wellington.
January in Wellington is the start of a three-month wonderland for horse enthusiasts. Every day is a horseman’s paradise. Words really cannot even describe what I mean. World class horses and facilities are all within one fairly small town. Most of the biggest names in dressage, show jumping and polo riders and their mounts are there within a few-mile radius. It’s a veritable Who’s Who of equestrian all stars!
It’s a Disney World of barns, arenas and polo fields. I believe there are approximately 60 polo fields within the city limits. It’s the most amazing equestrian city I’ve seen. Every barn is bigger and more glamorous than the next, all still within a 15-minute drive to the warm, blue ocean water of Palm Beach. A visit to Wellington between January and March is a must. The amount of activities, shows and horse events are endless.
I’m constantly reminded of a powerful quote that you should never really forget — “Not all those who wander are lost.” See you soon …
About the writer: Kerstie Allen is a native of Melbourne, Australia. Her passion for horses has taken her on a worldwide adventure exploring and mastering nearly every discipline in the equestrian world and opening doors of opportunity for women everywhere. Follow Kerstie’s adventures at: Twitter: @kerstiea; Facebook fan page: kerstie allen; and Instagram: allenkerstie.
Photos courtesy of Kerstie Allen