Sitting Bull Stampede rodeo and parade goers will get a look at a star this week, and can see him again when the movie “The Lone Ranger” opens at theaters around the country.
LeRoy, a 10-year-old quarter horse gelding, was the Lone Ranger’s horse Silver in the movie that opens tonight (Wednesday). He will carry Mobridge Rodeo Association President Dean Tisdall of Mobridge in the Stampede parades and possibly in the grand entries of Stampede rodeo performances.
K.C. Peterson of Ogallala, Neb., owns LeRoy. Peterson manages Otter Creek Ranch in Nebraska, which is owned by Tisdall’s parents, Don and Joyce Tisdall. Don Tisdall called son Dean about a week ago and told him he had a horse for him to ride in the Stampede parades. For Dean, it was an opportunity to provide an added attraction for those attending the parades and rodeo.
“My parents enjoy supporting the rodeo and the town of Mobridge,” Dean said.
Peterson was in Albuquerque, N.M., from January through September of 2012 to film the movie. He’s provided animal talent for many movies and even doubled for Robert Redford in the movie “The Horse Whisperer.” He had other animals in “The Lone Ranger,” but LeRoy will be the most noticeable as the movie’s lead actor Armie Hammer spends considerable time on him.
Peterson said he’s owned LeRoy since he was a yearling.
“In the movie business, they’re always looking for white horses with black eyes,” Peterson, 55, said. “He’s the only quarter horse I’ve ever seen that way.”
Peterson is an acquaintance of the head trainer on the movie and he knew Peterson had a horse that fit the type needed for the movie. He was on the set two days after the trainer called him. It takes a special horse to put up with the rigors of movie shooting, he said. They have to be able to perform but also be user-friendly.
“Especially if you put an actor on them,” he said. “And then all the lights and screens they put up.”
Hammer, Peterson said, got along well on horseback because he put some effort into it by taking riding lessons. Co-star Johnny Depp not so much, at least at first.
“He fell off,” Peterson said. “Just fell off.”
Peterson’s days on the set might start at 4 a.m. even though no shooting was done much before 9 a.m. The elements play a part in the progress, and sometimes actors or crew will run late.
“There’s lots of hurry up and wait,” he said.
He’ll be watching the news to see how “The Lone Ranger” does at the box office.
“If the movie does $120 million this weekend, they’ll do a 2,” he said.
LeRoy’s registered name is Red Bucks Bar and his pedigree is mainly of performance horse bloodlines. Moviegoers will see him several times in scenes where Hammer and Depp ride together. He will do some stunts such as rearing up or jumping over a hay bale, but stunt horses are used when it’s time to jump, for example, from train car to train car or building to building.
“He’s what they call the main cast horse,” Peterson said, which means he’s reliable, calm, and safer to ride. It’s a safety issue and a business decision for the moviemakers.
“If you hurt the lead actor, you’ve shot yourself in the foot,” he said.
LeRoy fit the bill not only because he’s white and has black eyes. His demeanor makes him an easy horse for almost anyone to ride.
“If somebody comes to the ranch who doesn’t know how to ride, we put ‘em on LeRoy,” Peterson said.
Dean Tisdall plans to ride LeRoy in both parades, which start at 4 p.m. today (Wednesday) and tomorrow. If a few other plans come together, he’ll ride him in the grand entry of rodeo performances at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow.
– Travis Svihovec –