The Black Stallion caused many people to fall in love with the idea of owning a horse. The story of the movie involves a boy named Alec who is shipwrecked on a deserted island. Alec’s only companion is an Arabian stallion. Released in 1979, based off of a 1941 children’s novel by Walter Farley, here are some facts about the famous stallion that has won the hearts of so many over the years.
#1. Four horses were used to portray the stallion throughout the film.
Two stallions primarily portrayed Black throughout the course of the film. Their names were Cass Ole and Fae Jur. Case Ole was a Texas-bred Arabian stallion and Fae Jur was, for the lack of a better term, his stunt double. Cass Ole appears the most in the film, even though he had a star on his forehead and white legs that had to be painted black for each take.
A black stallion [or any other color] is a horse that is adaptable to many different situations, but each has their own strength. Some may act studdish all of the time and others may be laid back and never act that way. It is important to remember, however, that a stallion is still able to breed.
#2. Cass Ole did not really like to fight at all.
There is one famous scene in the movie where Black protects Alec from a cobra that they find on the beach. Since Fae Jur really loved to fake-fight as a form of play, he got to appear in the scenes that would become iconic for those that have seen the movie.
Stallions may play and act in a number of different ways. Some prefer to remain mostly alone, receiving only regular attention from their handler or owner. Others prefer to be in the company of a herd full-time. The stallion will tell you his preference.
#3. The horse that the producers wanted appears in the film’s sequel.
In 1983, The Black Stallion Returns was released and featured El Mokhtar. He was an Egyptian racehorse and it was him that the producers initially wanted for the starring role in the initial film. Based on the success of the first film, the owners of El Mokhtar relented and he got to star alongside Cass Ole in the sequel.
Today many people think of stallions as being bred for speed or for looks, but there is more to the breeding process than this. The best horse may have a certain stature, or certain personality characteristics, that may be desired for duplication. Sometimes an intelligent horse is a better stud option than a fast one.
#4. None of the black stallions brought in for filming would swim.
Because the horses were so reluctant to get out into the water for the swimming scenes, the producers of The Black Stallion had to bring in horses that were raised in the river delta regions of Europe. When the horses arrived, the producers were surprised to discover that they were cream colored. So when you see Black swimming in the movie, that’s actually a cream horse that was brought in specifically for that scene.
Just because a stallion is reluctant to swim doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t know how to swim well. Some horses like it and others do not. Stallions swim by moving their legs forward as if they are trotting.
#5. The boy who played Alec took the role because he wanted swimming lessons.
It’s sort of ironic that the stallions didn’t want to swim in the movie since that was the primary reason why Kelly Reno, who accepted the role of Alec, wanted to do the movie. Since Reno had grown up on a horse farm in Colorado, he was familiar with riding stallions and the challenges that come with that experience.
Riding a stallion requires a person’s complete attention. The handler must be seen as the “dominant stallion” of the herd and ignoring what a stallion says is a fast way to be challenged by the horse.
#6. All breeds of horses have stallions.
Mature male horses of any breed are referred to as stallions. They must follow both the phenotype and conformation of their breed in order to qualify. Stallions are not just black in color either. They can be any approved color that is available within their breed for registration.
#7. Stallions follow a system of hierarchy.
Even when on the movie set, the four stallions that would play the role of Black fell into a system of hierarchy where one would be the leader. This is because horses are a “pack” animal. Each herd will have one dominant male horse and one dominant female horse. It is the mare, the female horse, that determines when a herd travels and it is the stallion’s job to make sure that all of the stragglers are able to keep up with the desired movement.
#8. Stallions do not generally have harems, despite popular beliefs.
This belief system is likely due to one of the popular management styles of stallions in a domesticated capacity. Stallions are either kept isolated as a method of management or allowed to run loose with only mares to create a replicated feral herd. For The Black Stallion, the producers kept the horses in what is known as the “bachelor herd” management model so that their behavior remained authentic, but without the competition for mating rights.
The fact is that some stallions can remain together in bachelor herds for almost their entire life. As long as the breeding period from April-July is managed properly, the horses can live, play, and work together quite well.
#9. Stallions are naturally aggressive toward those they do not know.
When two stallions cross paths with one another and they are not habitually living together, then it is not uncommon for aggressive or even violent behavior to result. The stallions may kick at each other, lunge or bite at the neck or chest, or one may even attempt to escape. This is why for the filming of The Black Stallion, the primary horse and its regular “stunt double” living companion were primarily used. This eliminated much of the aggressiveness on set.
#10. Stallions need regular exercise.
All of the running and playing on the set of The Black Stallion was healthy for the horses. It’s also healthy for every other stallion that is owned. A stallion that is kept in a stall for longer time periods is a horse that is likely to become fat, have reduced fertility, and may become aggressive due to its pent up energy.
These Black Stallion horse facts are tied in with facts from the movie because the film was such an authentic experience. By knowing these facts, it becomes easier to understand what these horses want and how they will respect you.