GEORGE NEWS - After a 14-month stint in Cape Town, working on two big movie productions and commercials, the famous Film Equus movie horses and stunt riders are back at their home base in George. The head of the clan, Elbrus Ourtaev, an expert Russian Cossack rider / stuntman, and his professional stuntmen sons Sasha and Arian are having a well-deserved rest at Cossack's, their riding school on the outskirts of Pacaltsdorp.
Sasha broke his ankle in three places in a fall during filming, but is already on the mend. His younger brother Arian, who has been in the saddle "since he got out of nappies" has turned 18 and is now a fully fledged member of the stunt riding fraternity.
Arian is rather matter of fact about the risks involved in his chosen career. "I did two Cossack drag scenes this season," he says. This involves the rider hanging upside down with only a foot in one of the stirrups keeping him anchored - while his head almost touches the ground.
As head of Film Equus, Elbrus had his hands full training a whole cast of actors to become competent horse riders during the six months of filming the series Troy: Fall of a City.
The lead cast include Louis Hunter as Paris, Tom Weston-Jones as Hector, Bella Dayne as Helen, David Goyadi as Achilles and Game of Thrones star Joseph Mawle as Odysseus. In one of the scenes, the two brothers doubled for Louis Hunter and Bella Dayne. (Actually, most of the scenes were done by the stuntmen.)
For Elbrus, the big test of his training came when 10 of the stars featured in a real live 'take'. He heaved a sigh of relief when it all went off without a hitch.
The series, about the Trojan war and the ill-fated love story of Paris and Helen, is a joint production of BBC One and Netflix.
Mom Edda, who stayed behind to manage the horse farm in her stuntmen's absence, says, "The big move to Cape Town started in February 2017 to start work in BBC One's production of the series. The series was filmed in and around Cape Town on various film locations. Sixteen of our Film Equus horses and the horse stunt riding crew showed exactly how much talent we have in South Africa. We are regarded as tops in the film industry in regard to horse stunts and superbly trained and confident movie horses."
She said the horses and riders had some incredibly hectic stunt scenes with lots of night shoots and gory war and fight scenes to contend with.
"The Film Equus horses exceeded all expectations and performed brilliantly, as each scene had been well rehearsed in advance."
Medieval show in George
"The best news is that Film Equus has been persuaded to host a medieval horse stunt show in the not-too-distant future as a follow-up to last month's very popular show in Cape Town. We will keep you updated as to where and when this will take place."
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'