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Col. Richmond (SS Director)

1925 Posts

Posted - 08/11/2007 :  14:04:09  Show Profile  Visit Admin's Homepage
(c) K. Sabo

Robert Conrad was an accomplished horseman- a talent he honed while on W-Cubed. Prior to his stint as James West, Conrad was a studio player with Warner Bros., and appeared in an episode of_Maverick_. Warner Bros. was always encouraging their actors to learn to ride, they provided an instructor and horses right on the lot. Always one to take advantage of something which may prove useful in his career, Conrad learned the basics of horsemanship then. When _The Wild Wild West_ came along, he was ready.

During the first season, Bob was fitted with a talented black fellow who's name is lost by the passage of time. We'll call him "Hobby Horse" for reasons historical to WILDWEST and for lack of something better. HH appeared to be a Quarter Horse/Morgan cross with a willing temperament and quite a bag of tricks up his ...erm, sleeves. Visually you can spot this gelding at 100 paces- he's about 15.3 hands, with a long stride, one white sock on his left hind, and a wave-y, long mane. [HH's white foot is best seen in TNot Man-Eating House {33}, and in the teaser of TNot Gruesome Games {87}.]

In close-up, Hobby Horse has bald eyebrows; perhaps he had a rubbing habit. ["eyebrowlessness" is best seen in TNot Grand Emir {18}]. He appears as Jim West's horse proper in TNot Inferno {1} through TNot Bogus Bandits {56}, which brought the second series to a close.

During this time, Conrad's riding ability outgrew HH, and CBS went looking for a more suitable mount for their hero. From a local rancher they procured Shadow Trail- a registered American Quarter Horse. Black, 15.2 hands, with almost Arabian ears, this little gelding proved to be a mount worth of the Secret Service's finest agent. "Walk" was not in this horse's vocabulary. Superstar, as they called him on the set, was an absolute pistol to ride, and Conrad's talents were continually tested by this fellow. Superstar can be easily differentiated from HH by his slicker coat, shorter coupling, almost Arabian (curved inward at the tips) ears and shorter head, short quick stride, straight mane,and no white anywhere. In strong sunlight Superstar can almost appear brown due to sun bleaching, while HH held his black colour better.

Superstar debuted as West's mount proper in TNo Jack O' Diamonds {57}, although he could be seen occasionally as far back as TNot Colonel's Ghost {52}.

Conrad could handle Superstar, but no one else really could. This made the little dancer unsuitable for scenes requiring a "soft touch", and although HH could be full of piss n' vinegar from time to time, he was much more suited for other riders. Thus Superstar and HH *both* appeared as West's mount as needed. For example, Superstar is West's main mount in TNot Arrow {67}, but as West gives Aimee a lift, his horse magically changes to the gentle HH. This equine duality can get really annoying for someone who can spot the difference. In TNot Colonel's Ghost {52}, West rides into town on Superstar. He then dismounts and exchanges dialogue with the fellow chopping down a totem pole. When he remounts and continues on his way, Superstar has magically changed to HH.

HH had some stunt talent that Superstar didn't, probably due to temperament differences. In the teaser of TNot Gruesome Games {87}, Conrad is riding HH. On cue, the horse stunt-falls, awaits Conrad's command, then gets back on his feet, rider secure in the saddle and unharmed. In TNot Cossacks {104}, Superstar magically becomes a dark chestnut "something" when roping from his back is required.

So Jim West had TWO horses, both of whom contributed their separate talents to a killer program.

So what about Artemus? It's a well-known fact that horses and Ross Martin didn't exactly get along. Usually if someone has a continued fear of horses, they probably had a bad experience that was never straightened out. Ross Martin had definitely run into equines before W-Cubed; he's mounted in _The Great Race_ {1965} and _Geronimo_ {1962} where he's riding bareback (!). At the WILDWEST AG, Bob Herron, Ross's stunt double, confirmed that he did most of the scenes with Artie mounted. Ross himself related a story in which his terror of horses was intensified (see: The Bible). So while Robert Conrad honed his riding skills, Ross Martin preferred not to do so. Typically his mount was a mellow chestnut Quarter Horse with a white star, but on occasion he could equally be seen on a pinto, bay, or yet another chestnut, all of whom were pretty quiet.

Other horses of note appeared in W-Cubed. One episode in particular involved a specific equine. TNo Jack O' Diamonds {57} finds our heroes escorting a beautiful "Arabian stallion" to Presidente Juarez, a gift from Grant and the United States. Jack is specifically identified as an Arabian in the dialogue, however in reality Jack was a liver chestnut Saddlebred. One has to wonder why a Saddlebred was used in this story as your garden- variety Saddlebred is as different as it gets from an Arabian. Saddlebreds are very tall, have very long necks with very long, thin faces and (typically) roman noses in stark contrast to the Arabian "dish". They tend to be rather coarse, which has recently led Saddlebred breeders to incorporate Arabian blood for a "finer" featured horse, now known as the National Showhorse. The differences become more pronounced when the horse moves. Saddlebreds are gaited. They come in two "flavours", three-gaited and five-gaited. The five-gaited variety adds the rack and the single-foot to the standard walk, trot, and canter, but in all of these gaits the Saddlebred exhibits extremely high knee action and head carriage. Most of their motion is vertical, while good horizontal motion is what is wished for in most other breeds.

The two breeds do share high tail carriage and a table-top croup as desired traits in common, but these are secondary features and are only noticed upon careful scrutiny or by a well-trained eye. Without a doubt, Jack O' Diamonds was a Saddlebred, often known as the "inverse Arabian".

Regarding horse names, none of the horses in the show were ever identified by a name.

-Yours in (secret) service,

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Colonel Richmond, SS Director
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