War Horse Farrier: Brendan Murray Speaks to Samantha Clark About How He Helped Joey Keep His Shoes On

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Napoleon once said that an army moves on its stomach. But the cavalry moves on its hooves, and it took an army of farriers–called “shoeing smiths” by the British military–to keep the horses moving in World War I.

But what about a film crew? And what about the production of Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse in England in 2010?

War Horse News gold logo (small)DreamWorks Pictures learned the importance of a farrier too, especially when Roger, a plow-horse lookalike for Joey, kept stepping on (and thereby pulling off) his shoes in the furrow.

“Cut!” “Get the farrier up here!” “Where’s the farrier?”

And not only did the farrier have to keep putting shoes back on in the midst of many shoots that were mired in mud: director Spielberg put location farrier Brendan Murray to work in the forge in the shoeing scene. They turned the camera on him and his apprentice for the crucial background action in the scene where Joey meets Topthorn while the two are waiting to be shod.

You’ll hear all about it in this interview with Great Britain’s international eventing team farrier Brendan Murray, a seasoned veteran of both shoeing and riding for film productions!

Brendan was interviewed by Lexington, Kentucky’s freelance equestrian media pro Samantha L. Clark of eventingnation.com and many other audio, video and web projects for the horse world. This is Samantha’s first “guest blog” under the banner War Horse News and it’s appropriate that it arrived as a media file, instead of a text document or an image file

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British eventing team farrier Brendan Murray "kitted out" for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. (Photo links to Brendan's Zimbio page)

About Brendan Murray
Brendan has been associated as eventing team farrier with the British Equestrian Federation and Team GBR for many years. He has served at five Olympic Games, three World Equestrian Games, and many European championships. He was flag bearer for Great Britain and led his country into the arena in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 WEG in Kentucky, as chosen by the athletes.

Brendan is retired as a farrier in the British military’s esteemed King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery; among his duties was serving as brakeman for the gun carriage loaded with the casket of Princess Diana at her funeral in 1997. Among Brendan’s film on-screen credits are Gladiator, Robin Hood and 2012′s Snow White and the Huntsman.

You might enjoy a video interview by Samantha Clark with Brendan at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

Samantha Clark, 2010 Radio Show host

Samantha Clark

About Samantha Clark: Who is she? Then: eventer, NPR news anchor, and (most recently) co-host of the 2010 Radio Show about the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Now: armed with social media, camera, video and a smart phone, she knows no bounds.

Samantha says of herself: “I’m thrilled to have my blog on EventingNation.com as an excuse to pursue an incurable curiosity about anything to do with horses (especially eventing), satisfy my wanderlust and aid in my determination to cling to my English roots. I’m often accompanied by two small children–sometimes helpful, sometimes a hindrance–and almost always by a beautiful, black Labrador who is perfect company!”

Samantha’s blog is a must-read on the web and she is equally a must-follow on Twitter: @samanthalclark for great horse tweets from Kentucky and the eventing world.

More about Samantha Clark


Be brave! Entrench yourself in WAR HORSE NEWS on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you! WAR HORSE NEWS is written for moviegoers, horse lovers and history buffs by horse-specialist journalist Fran Jurga and hosted by Equisearch.com.

War Horse: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like to Go to a Royal Premiere in London?

Let’s go along with War Horse News’ mysterious foreign correspondent, our friend Sam Lane. She’s on the ground in London and her lens and her eyes are wide open. Sam was able to arrive early in Leicester Square on Sunday, and photographed the preparations for the Royal Premiere of War Horse at the Odeon Theatre, as well as the arrival of some of the stars and the most special guests of honor. Let’s go!

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There was no question which moving was showing at the Odeon on Sunday night! (photo © Sam Lane)

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War Horse posters in London used the horizontal four-fold movie poster format instead of the vertical format usually seen in ads and in the USA. It looked like 100 or so of them were attached to movable barricades for a block or so in front of the theater. (photo © Sam Lane)

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Roll out the red carpet! A city block's length (at least) arrived in vans. (photo © Sam Lane)

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Not just any old red carpet for the stars of War Horse! (photo © Sam Lane)

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Who was the first star to arrive? It was Joey, the War Horse himself! (photo © Sam Lane)

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"Joey", a.k.a. Sultan, an Andalusian who was one of many horses who played the star in War Horse, was escorted by Tom Cox of Devils Horsemen stunt riders. Dan Nedrous of Devils Horsemen was one of the assistant horsemasters of the film. He was in the background, on safety duty. (Photo © Sam Lane)

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Right, I can't explain the bit either. War Horses can adapt to anything! (photo © Sam Lane)


War Horse Equine Artistic Advisor Ali Bannister had her share of fans behind the barricades: her mother was there to watch her daughter and her artwork on the red carpet--Ali had to do the makeup on Sultan (he played Joey in the trenches scene in the film) before he walked the carpet. It was a fun night for everyone! (photo © Sam Lane)

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The man behind War Horse: American producer/director Steven Spielberg arrived at the theater and walked own the red carpet right to Joey and greeted him first! (photo © Sam Lane)

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War Horse star Patrick Kennedy gave autographs to fans on the barricades. He played Lieutenant Waverly in the film, although he pronounces it "Left-tenant". He's as charming offscreen as his role was onscreen! (photo © Sam Lane)

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War Horse star Benedict Cumberblatch has the best name in show business. He's quite a star in Britain, and War Horse earned him a lot of American fans, too. He played Sherlock Holmes in the BBC production that is currently showing in the USA on PBS Masterpiece. (photo © Sam Lane)

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Who doesn't have a soft spot in his or her heart for the artistic officer Captain Nicholls from War Horse? He was played by Tom Hiddleston, whom you might recognize as Loki from Thor or from PBS Masterpiece's Return to Cranford series and many other films and shows. (photo © Sam Lane)

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The guests of honor at the War Horse Royal Premiere were members of British military units associated with Prince William or Prince Harry. The evening was a fundraiser for their foundation that aids servicemen. (photo © Sam Lane)

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Servicewomen guests at the War Horse premiere were the modern-day counterparts of the World War I troops portrayed so well in the film. (photo © Sam Lane)

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The guests of honor were essentially the hosts, as well. War Horse made the Duchess of Cambridge (the former Kate Milddleton) shed a tear, according to Steven Spielberg. Here she is arriving with her husband, the Duke of Cambridge--Prince William to Americans. (photo © Sam Lane)

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Photographer Sam Lane at home after the premiere shows off her treasures: one of the posters from the barricades--removed with permission of a policeman, and a scrap of the War Horse red carpet that was a gift from the carpet-layers. Well done, Sam! (photo © Sam Lane)

Be sure to visit Sam Lane’s Flickr stream to see more photos from the premiere night. And to read her account of what happened that night, her Posterous blog, Living in London 2012, has all the details in the first person! Sam is a rising star photographer in the big city who has a very horsey background as daughter of a well-known horse veterinarian. She has her horse eye out in London and we expect she’ll be a great connection during the Olympics.

There’s nothing like a foreign correspondent, especially a fearless one who knows and loves horses! Thanks, Sam!

A Flowerbox, Once a Watering Trough, Still Remembers War Horses

This was once a horse-watering trough, built in memory of British horses that died in the Boer War in South Africa.

This was once a horse-watering trough, built in memory of British horses that died in the Boer War in South Africa. Twelve years later, British horses served again, in World War I, as documented in the DreamWorks film War Horse, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. The memorial water trough--perhaps one of many?--is cemented into the sidewalk in Winchester, England. According to photosfromwinchester.blogspot.com, the location is Jewry Street and the trough was a gift to the city from Mrs Isabella Clowes. Estimates are that 600,000 horses died in the Boer War, including many American "cow horses" who were bought in large numbers because they were tough enough to withstand the heat and tough conditions. British hunter-type horses tended to wilt so horses from Australia and America were sourced. (Photo via Flicktone on Flickr.com)

Why You Need to See War Horse This Week: First-week Stats Help Future Horse Movies

The Horsey Set‘s Rhonda Lane is back as the raconteur-du-jour here on War Horse News. Today Rhonda admonishes all you wait-and-see types to get-thee-to-the-cinema because War Horse‘s first-week stats and gross box office income can effect studios’ sentiments toward producing more horse-related films! Over to you, Rhonda!

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For people who want to see more horses in the movies, the opening week of War Horse, directed by Hollywood visionary Steven Spielberg, is an excellent opportunity.

War Horse News small gold logo badgeThanks to War Horse and Mr. Spielberg, horses are in the mass media spotlight right now. Maybe they’re not actually on the red carpet, but they are in the forefront of cultural consciousness–for once–at some time other than Kentucky Derby week.

This is our chance to show that good movies about horses will draw crowds and make money.

Mr. Spielberg met us halfway by making an excellent movie. So, I think we horse people should look at our calendars to pick out an afternoon or evening this weekend to grab our tissues and go see War Horse during its first full weekend at the box office.

(Or, in the case of many, go see it again. And bring some friends.)

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Can Joey help War Horse leap the box office barricades and gallop off with impressive stats?

The “Bean Counters” who determine our choices for entertainment want to see who’s thirsting to see a movie, according to the blog post “Who Comes on Opening Night?”by marketing guru Seth Godin.

Maybe you’ve noticed, after watching the obligatory weekly Sunday night newsbreaks, that the movie that has the biggest opening of the weekend is mentioned in the financial news report, along with the amount of money made. The “Powers That Be” in entertainment make their decisions about what we’ll see in the future in large part based on the numbers they see during those few days after a movie opens.

We’ve all remarked at one time or another about how we wanted to see a movie but that it left theaters before we had a chance to go. The old rules of “I’ll wait to go see it” don’t apply anymore, not if we want to see more of a particular kind of entertainment.

So, if we want to see more horses in the movies, we need to make time to go see “War Horse” and as soon as we can. How about this weekend?

A PS from War Horse News: Rhonda Lane is, as usual, so right! NASDAQ’s film income forecast today validated everything she said and had this comment about War Horse’s predicted box office: Heading into its first full weekend, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” also should be one of the biggest benefactors of a lack of new releases. Backed by some steady critical buzz, “War Horse” is expected to be a major contender at the upcoming Academy Awards, though a lot of that will depend on how it does commercially over the next couple of weekends. “War Horse” might be too heavy for some audiences this weekend, but an intake in the $10 to $12 million range still seems likely.

Rhonda Lane, The Horsey Set

Playbill.com listed War Horse as #7 last week, which is pretty wonderful, considering it only had one day’s income to report. The site also tells us: The highest-grossing film of the (Christmas) weekend was “Mission: Impossible,” which earned $29,500,000. Others in the top 10 include “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” “The Adventures of Tintin, “We Bought a Zoo,” “New Year’s Eve,” “The Darkest Hour” and “The Muppets.”

War Horse took in $7,515,402 at the box office on Christmas Day, according to boxofficemojo.com.

Rhonda Lane writes one of my favorite blogs, The Horsey Set. She is a native of Kentucky who now lives and writes in Connecticut. She’s currently working on a mystery novel. Follow Rhonda on Twitter (I do!): @RhondaLane

Be brave! Entrench yourself in WAR HORSE NEWS on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you! WAR HORSE NEWS is written for moviegoers, horse lovers and history buffs by horse-specialist journalist Fran Jurga and hosted by Equisearch.com.