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Using Sense to
Create Horse Sense If You If ant Your Animals to Learn Stunts, Take Them Into Your Confidence and Never Betray Them, Is the Advice of Tom Mix and Ken Maynard—Many Horses Have Keen Intelligence and M ill Follozv lYour Every Wish if Handled Properly. BY ALICE L. TILDESLEY. TRAINING horses for action before the camera has taken on added impetus since the gangster has given way to the hard-riding, he-man hero of the silver serein. Favorite mounts, such as Tom Mix's Tony and Ken Maynard's Tansan, report Increases in their fan mail. Horses get fan mail in Hollywood, believe it or not. Some of their child frirnds are convinced that Tony and Tarzan, at any rate, can read letters, that ■ feat seeming far less difficult than the things they see the adored animals do in the course of a picture. A good equine screen actor should be able to make a "death-defying leap" across a 90 foot chasm, swim against a swift current, take a revolver from the villain's back pocket, sum mon aid for the heroine asleep in the barn loft when the barn catches fire, open doors, count, spell, say yes and no, or anything else that sensation-seeking scenarists may think of put ting in a script. All very well from the point of view of the story-teller, but how to persuade a horse to follow the script? • · Λ HORSE is easy to train," avers Tom ** Mi*. "It's all a matter of gaining his confidence. You must love him, in the first place; play square with him always, and con sider him just as you would your child. "I visit all my horses at least once a week. ' Just as I used to visit my little giri when she was away at school. Believe me, thoee horses expect me and lcok for me. "A horse sees the horse in you and a dog sees the dog in you. They know whether you understand them all right. They know whether you mean well by them or not. If they trust you, you can gc as far as you like. "I never tie a Iwse up. I treat him as I would a pat dog, like one of the family. I never whip him and I never fool him. Once you deceive a horse, he's useless. He remem bers and he won't trust you a second time. "My first step in the actual training of horses for movies is to cow-train them. That means to teach them all the things a horse must know if he is riding herd on cows. This in cludes acting Immediately on every signal, be ing alert to catch a cue, and keeps them on edge all the time. One of the steps in this training is to gallcp a horse at full speed, then euodeily stop him and wheel him around when he least expects it. such as has to be done if ► you were roping a steer. This trains him to expect th« unusual and thus not to be dis turbed when tricks are to be performed. "After this. I teach him the simpler tricks, such as nodding 'yes,' shaking his head 'no,' counting with his fore foot, spelling cut words with blocks and the bite trick. "You see, if you're going to get a horse to pick something up for you, you must first teach him to bite an object and hold it. I usually give him a glove, because that's soft and he can't hurt himself. I say 'Hold it!' If be drops it, I pick it up and put it back until loose of the object when an open hand is held out to him so he can drop the thing into it. "We usually wrap the handle of a revolver in tape so that the horse will have a soft sur face to bite into if he is to hold the weapon. The tape doesn't show, but If it did I wouldn't let Tony risk his fine teeth on solid steel. ι «I'VE had Tony for 21 years. Bought him ' when he was a year-old colt, and if all goes as it should, he'll live to be 30. Marvelous horse. Best horse in the business. And coet $12 50. "I was walking along in Phoenix. Ariz., one doy. when I saw a mare with a nursing colt working at hauling. " Lookahere' I said to the man who was driving her, 'that poor thing can't deliver vegetables and nurse a colt.' "He just shrugged his shoulders and started on. I ran after him and offered to buy the colt. I didn't have much money and $12.50 was as high as I could go, but he took it. He probably thought the colt wasn't worth much. •"We fooled him, Tony and I. "The sort of horse you can train to do dif ficult tricks—one with what I call the 'trick strain' in him—will live to be 30 years. "Hie ordinary horse is liable to die at 9. Tony is a Steel Rust horse, or Spanish strain, and his ancestry goes back to the time of Cortez. "They trained horses back in the days of Alexander the Great, did you know that? Dur ing his réign every boy was taught all about horses. Good for 'em. Ought to be true now. "There's lots of things people don't know about horses that everybody who is going to fool with animals ought to know. "Say you are going to swim a river on a horse's back. It's like riding a log. You must balance your horse as soon as he's off his feet in water, just as you'd balance a bi cycle, because the horse with a load on his back has a tendency to tilt to one side against the current, and if he's allowed to slip over on his side he'll drown. So if he slips one way, you balance the other. "Then take fire: "The average person who tries to rescue a stable full of tiorses will rush in. all excited; cut an animals halter, hit him hard to drive him out and hurry on to the next horse. Does the animal go? He does not. His stall is his home and he feels safe there. He doesn't like noise and excitement; he's afraid of fire engines and sirens and crowds. He'll stay in his stall if he burns. ι > "THE way to do the trick is to act as if I the stable wasn't on lire and go through the same procedure you'd use if you were talcing the horse out for exercise. You go in. untie the halter. If he wears one. and Jead him out the way he's used to going. "No horse hesitates to follow a man he trusts. That's why movie horses will go through smoke and Are when they're direct-eU to do it. if a friend tells them it's all right. " 'Take no chances, safety first.' is my motto when dealing with horses. Maybe you can't believe It after seeing my pictures, but every time we do a difficult feat I've got it all figured out before we start.'* Failing to fall feet first was the cause of Tarzan's nearest escape from death. Ken Maynard was making a picture in Montana. The action called for a leap from a 60-foot cliff Into a lake and a swim to the opposite shore. Technicians had rigged up a wooden runway at the top of the cliff, arguing that this would help Tarzan to clear the bai*k and run no risk of striking shallow water. Tarzan, bearing Ken on his back, galloped at full speed to the runway: at the end, Tar zan slipped on the newly planed boards, turned over in midair and landed in the water with Ken underneath. They went down about 30 feet, and when they came to the top, separately, Tarzan was so terrified that he tried to climb on top of Ken, who evaded him and swam to shore. WHEN Ken reached the near shore, be looked beck to see Tarzan carrying out his pic ture- instructions and swimming for the farther one. Arrived there, the animal spied Ken and immediaely swam back, a feat that still seems impossible to his master. When Tarzan reached the shallow, water near Ken, he dropped tfl, his Wnets and nestled his head in Ken's arms —Ken had gone to meet him. "It's all right as long as you are," h3 seemed to be saying. "I karned all I know about horses irom men in small circuses and carnivals years ago. When these men used to tell me that a horse has a left brain and a right brain. I thought they were kidding me. We always trained our horses from the left side because that's the mount side and most tricks are doine on that side. That's th» vay I trained Tarzan, of course. "All went well until one day I had to signal Tarzan from th? right and then I discovered the carnival men knew what they were talking about, for Tarzm stood there, unconcernedly," not even noticing that I had spoken. I had to begin again from the beginning, working on the right side, so that today he can take direction from any quarter. "During silent-picture days I used to train Tarzan by using one-syllable words. II I wanted him to nod his head, I'd say 'yes' and nod my own head. When the horse got used to the word I'd cut out the action and use only the word, and Tarzan would always nod. Same with 'no' and the shake of the head, and 'here' lor the horse to come to me. One-syllable words don't confuse a horse. "When talkies came along, we had to use signals, so I rigged up a stick with white cloth tied to it so that Tarzan could see it easily. Then I taught him that moving the stick up and down meant 'yes* and moving it from side to side meant 'no.' Other motions meant other actions and Tarzan picked them up quickly. "If I am in the scene, the trainer holds the stick and gives directions, and Tarzan under stands this. Of course, if I am riding him I can give him directions with a touch of my fingers. But he is devoted to the trainer, too. and trusts him absolutely." A BOUT this time, Ken, who had been talk* ' lng to me on the set, hat in hand, was consulted by his director who brought the script to him. The hat dropped, unnoticed, while the two men talked over their problem. Tarzan, who had been standing in an Im provised stall made in a bedroom (part of the picture set), glanced at the hat with a wor ried air. Presently he left the stall, came over to the hat, picked It up and with it nudged Ken's arm. "Here's your hat, old man," he said, as plainly as if he had spoken, and, Ken having accepted it, trotted back to his stall. "Tarzan's very particular about my belong ings." smiled Ken. "The most dangerous thing he ever did? "I suppose the worst thing I ever asked him to do was to carry me over Newhall Gap oa a log three feet wide. One slip and we'd have gone down 90 feet. But he didn't slip. "All by himself, though, Tarzan did what would be dangerous for any other horse. Ac tion called for him to enter an old-type, un walled elevator, go up to the next floor in it and get off there. As there were no walls to the elevator and the platform was small, any unexpected movement might have sent him over the edge to the ground. "I told him» what I wanted, sent him into the elevator and warned him to stand still. But I can tell you I held my breath while he was going up and prayed that he'd mind his business and not be diverted to outside dis turbances into moving an extra foot or so. I needn't have worried. Tarzan understood." Both Western stars emphasise the importance of gaining and keeping a horse's confidence, In the early days of pictures, when ani mals were not so safeguarded as they are to day, a certain company filmed a scene in which a bridge was blown up. A horse and rider were supposed to be on the bridge at the time. The rider was instructed to leap before the discharge of dynamite, but the horse was to take his chance. Nobody thought it was even a chance. The horse galloped to the bridge, onto it, his rider leaped as the charge was set off. the bridge was blown up. the horse thrown into the river—all as expected. However, the horse was uninjured. A miracle, it seemed. But from that day to this, the horse has not , been used in any film. He shies and dodges. He bares his teeth. Hie heart is broken and he no longer trusts any man. (Copyright 1932 ) Tarzan tackles the "villain" in jter feet style as the camera clicks and records the thrill for movie fans. A horse must be trained to be on the aJert at all times. "If they trust you, you ran μο as far as you like." says Ken Maynard. he gets the idea that he's supposed to hang on. Then I pull on It hard and teach him to re sist me, until he catches on that he's not sup posed to give It up when one tries to force it from him. After that, he is taught to let ι Ί om Mix tva*· hi η g his h*>ru· Busier to fight.