The Lord of the Rings
When you think of movie horses, few are as magical as Shadowfax, Gandalf’s gorgeous horse from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series – brought to life in Peter Jacksons’ epic trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings has been a beloved series since their publication in 1954, cited as the foundation for pretty much any and all fantasy literature and media over the past half-decade, and the film trilogy by New Zealand born Peter Jackson went on to be nominated for 30 academy awards (winning 17), 10 Golden Globes (winning 4), and winning all 3 People Choice award nominations. Less about the phenomenal books and movies now, and more about the horses.
Throughout the course of the trilogy, Peter Jackson worked with a plethora of horses, as most if not all the nine main characters required horses for at least part of their journey. The main horses, however, belonged to Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and Legolas (Orlando Bloom), with Shadowfax, Brego and Arod respectively.
For the filming of the movies over 70 horses were trained and used, though you could be forgiven for thinking that many many more were used thanks to the power of Weta Workshop’s ground-breaking digital effects.
Only some of the horses included in the movies are essential enough to be named, however, with the previously named Shadowfax and Brego being the main two.
The role of Brego was primarily filled by a Dutch Warmblood stallion called Uraeus. Uraeus had previously been an FEI Dressage horse before retiring to become a stud horse, and the subsequently started his acting career later in life when The Lord of the Rings casting department called up his trainer. Although Viggo Mortensen was a competent horse rider and had ridden and been around horses since childhood, he took part in further lessons to learn how to ride the stallion. During the filming of the trilogy Viggo became quite attached to Uraeus, so much in fact that after the movies had wrapped, he decided to purchase the horse.
Shadowfax, on the other hand, was primarily played by an Andalusian named Blanco, with another named Domero used as well. In The Lord of the Rings Shadowfax is considered the greatest Horse alive. Being extremely loyal and honourable, and only able to be ridden by kings and others of their calibre, such as Gandalf. Shadowfax was also said to have unmatched energy, able to travel incredibly long distances without fatigue, as well as living to the same age as humans. Given that whatever horse portraying Shadowfax must look incredibly beautiful and elegant, the Andalusian horse was chosen due to its temperament, intelligence and elegant appearance.
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