The High Chaparral
Every Cowboy Needs a Horse

John's dappled grey in the pilot

Mackadoo, Rebel, and Soapy in "Ebenezer"

Billy and Rebel

Mano on his first horse, Diablo. Picture on right shows his white socks and white tail.  Don Sebastian's horse was also black and called Diablo, but did not have the white socks and tail.

Ira and his horse in "Best Man for the Job", but it doesn't seem like Paco described below.


"Young Blood"

"The Mark of the Turtle"

Mano with Diablo on the left, and with Mackadoo on the right.

Victoria riding side saddle on a 
horse from Rancho Montoya.
(1.17 "Filibusteros")

Horse and rider information provided by Bob Hoy who played Joe Butler.

John Cannon

Dappled grey, first episode, stolen by Mano, given to Victoria
Billy, brown with black mane and tail, thereafter
Buck Cannon Rebel (sometimes called Prince), bay with black mane and tail, map of South America on forehead
Blue Cannon Soapy, palomino
Mano Montoya Diablo, black with white tail and white socks, first half of first season; 
Thereafter, Mackadoo, sorrel with flax mane and tail, white face with "notch" near his right eye.
Sam Butler Rudy, bay with black mane and tail
Joe Butler Ribbon, chestnut with black mane and tail
Pedro Carr Poncho, brown with black mane and tail
Reno Apache, brown with black mane and tail
Ira Bean Paco, brown with black mane and tail
Vaquero Macho, brown with black mane and tail
Wind Jama, brown with black mane and tail
Victoria Irene, brown with black mane and tail.  Seen and referred to as her mare, but I don't think we actually see Victoria ride her.
Don Sebastian Montoya Diablo, black with black mane and tail
Don Domingo Montoya none specified
El Lobo any...he was a horse thief

Changing Horses in Midstream and Other Bloopers 
Only Dedicated Horse Fans Would Notice

In "The Assassins", the first scene opens to Blue and Mano riding range with Mano on Diablo. As they watch a chase between some Apaches, Mano’s horse suddenly changes into Mackadoo. Likewise, as they ride up to help the injured Apache he is shown approaching on Diablo but arriving on Mackadoo. This is the last we see Mano on Diablo so it seems unintentional that we have a couple brief shots of the wrong horse. From here on Mano and Mack are a team.

Mano and Blue out on the range on
Diablo and Soapy.

Moments later, still out on the range,
but Diablo has turned into Mackadoo.

Racing to help the wounded Apache,
Mano is back on the dark horse.

Jumping off to help the wounded
man, Mano is back with Mack!

In "Bad Day for a Thirst", a similar horse switch occurs mid-chase.  Buck and Mano begin the pursuit of Sourdough and Saddleblanket in the episode opener on two dark colored horses, but Mano arrives at the scene on Mackadoo.  It happens in one swing of his whip which you may be able to see below.  When he swings the whip he is on the dark tailed horse and when he reels the whip in again, he is on flaxen-tailed Mack. 

Mano begins the episode on Mackadoo.

Buck and Mano begin pursuit of Sourdough and Saddleblanket with Mano on a dark horse,
but Mano arrives below on Mackadoo.


Mackadoo in "Bad Day for a Thirst"


In the opener for "Price of Revenge" Blue is riding Soapy with his brilliant white mane and tail.  When he heads into the clearing where Tracy Conlin is, however, he is on another light colored horse with a grey mane and tail.  This is the horse that throws Blue when Conlin's rope comes at him.  As soon as Blue scrambles to his feet again though it is Soapy again standing calmly by.

Blue starts out on Soapy.

Heads into clearing on
different horse.

Stunt horse throws Blue.

Soapy, back again before
Blue can get to his feet.


In "Ride the Savage Land", Mano is riding Mackadoo in the opening sequence, but when he follows Buck to help him retrieve Olive he takes another horse that has similar coloring to Buck’s horse, Rebel, but lacks Rebel’s distinctive map of South America on his face. After they are attacked by Indians on the way Mano says, "Not so lucky – they shot my horse." The camera clearly shows Rebel lying on the ground - South America and all – not the horse Mano was on. When they ride off together doubled up on Buck’s horse, it is Rebel again, suddenly resurrected.

Rebel with Mano's unidentified mount in 
"Ride the Savage Land"

Rebel, playing dead and pretending to be 
Mano's horse in "Ride the Savage Land"


Cameron Mitchell and Prince

Buck and Rebel
In "Stinky Flanagan," Season Two, Buck, (Cameron Mitchell,) is so rattled at having been thrown by his horse that he calls the animal "Prince" which is his real name, instead of "Rebel" which is his character name.  This happens a couple other times in the series as well.


Soapy and Blue in
"The Stallion"

Soapy and Blue in
"Feather of an Eagle" 


Other HC Horse Trivia

Cameron Mitchell was very fond of kids and animals.  He used to call the youngsters by fond nicknames, like Buttons, and you can actually hear this in some of the episodes when he's interacting with the kids.  He was also very fond of the set animals, and he would take every opportunity to spoil them with all sorts of tasty tidbits.  It was rumored that some of the horses actually had to be replaced because they'd spy Cameron on the set and mosey up to him right in the middle of a "take."  The corollary to this is that he also liked to keep his horse Prince, aka Rebel, moving when in a scene.  It's been reported that Prince would lose about 150 pounds each season.

Buck with Indian pony in 
"The Assassins"

Buck with Rebel (Prince) in
"The Kinsman".

Buck with another Indian pony in 
"Auld Lang Syne"


In "Ride the Savage Land", Buck (Cameron Mitchell's stunt double - perhaps Bob Hoy?) makes a rather amazing running one-footed stirrup mount in the opening sequence. This occurs a couple other times in the series with other riders (Joe does it in "An Anger Greater Than Mine") but not as spectacularly as here.


In "No Trouble at All" Buck and Mano are being chased by Apaches and get Rebel and Mackadoo to lie down quietly until after danger passes.  Then they quickly get them on their feet and mount up again.  I have heard that Bob Hoy was doubling for Cameron Mitchell in this scene, and someone else for Henry Darrow.  Pretty impressive trick though.

Buck and Mano, Rebel and Mackadoo hiding from pursuing Apaches.

Below is the same trick from "The Glory Soldiers" except that it is just Mano (again we don't know who was actually doing the stunt).  The other difference in this scene is that we see the whole sequence -- riding up, dismount, bringing the horse to the down position, and then getting back up and riding off.


Hiding Getting Up Riding off again.


There's the story told by his sidekicks of the time Henry Darrow was supposed to gallop up to a stop at the ranch house, jump off his horse Mackadoo, and announce something important to John.  Henry apparently missed his mark, but Mackadoo didn't.  The horse planted his front feet exactly on target and did not move.  The forward momentum caused by the sudden stop almost threw Henry over Mackadoo's head.  If you watch closely, you can see Henry toppling out of the saddle, hanging onto Mackadoo's neck for dear life, instead of gracefully dismounting, as was originally planned.  It was actually filmed this way but haven't located the exact episode yet.  Let me know if you spot it.


The Famous "Flying Sam" Dismount

After almost a year trying to locate this scene it has finally been spotted.  It occurs in "The Peacemaker".  Don Collier had mentioned some time ago that his "flying Sam" dismount in one of the episodes was no fluke.  For years, fans have thought it was either a trick shot or it was a stunt double, but Don said it was a natural dismount when coming out of the saddle at the end of a full gallop, that the momentum created by the sudden stop will spin you around, and it looks like you are doing a 360 degree turn.  His horse was very well-trained, and when it planted its front feet, it did not move.  Don said they practiced that scene 3 times and each time, he did the exact same dismount.  It happens near the end of the episode when the Bunkhouse Boys are out on the range and hear the Apaches attacking the ranch.  They all come riding in at full gallop, with Sam and Joe in the lead.  They dismount almost simultaneously, with Don doing his full spin and almost colliding with Bob as he spins out of his saddle.  Unfortunately, part of Don's dismount is obscured by an Indian pony in the foreground, but it is still very good.  Watch for it next time you see this episode.  To see the series of stills of this scene, click on the tiny thumbnail shot below:

   "Flying Sam" Dismount Series


Sam in hot pursuit in "The Deceivers",
presumably riding Rudy

Sam to the rescue of a soldier from the Apaches in "Best Man for the Job"


In one of The High Chaparral episodes, John Cannon is in the foreground doing whatever with Sam in the background leading a horse across the scene from one side to the other.  During the rehearsals, everything looked too tame to director Bill Claxton, so he asked Don Collier if Don could get the horse to move or do something while being led across the background.  The horse was exceptionally docile and no amount of whispers or tugs could get the animal to do anything, except plod along contentedly.

One of the trainers suggested compressed air. It is what is sometimes used to get a horse to rear or shy or exhibit a bit of movement. A few practices with the air can, and everything looked to be just great...just what the director wanted. The trainer would shoot a little compressed air, the horse would pull to the side, and it would look like Sam was having difficulty controlling a wild stallion.

During the filming of this scene, however, the trainer shot the compressed air a little bit early.  Plus, he missed where he was supposed to hit the horse, which was in the rump, in order to cause it to spook slightly. The result was that Don was not ready, and the horse was taken totally by surprise.  When the horse suddenly lunged forward, Don was knocked about 20 feet backwards. When Bill Claxton saw what happened, he ordered the film destroyed, saying he didn't want anyone to think he was trying to kill the actors.


Bob Hoy as Joe Butler on Ribbon

Excerpts from interview with Bob Hoy discussing horse issues on HC:

Q.  Why does a horse get to its feet after supposedly being "killed?"  And why do the riders always get up and walk away?  Does Hollywood think us viewers are dumb and don't see things like this?  Don't horses scare easily?  Do they fall on command?

A.  Horses, after doing a fall, are loose and therefore, would "naturally" get to their feet.  If the script called for the horse to be "killed," then a horse trained to lie still would be used.  As far as the riders getting up and walking away, it would also depend on what the script calls for.   Was he wounded?  No, Hollywood does not think their viewers are dumb!  If they did, they wouldn't be in the film-making business for long.  Yes, some horses scare easily, and no, most horses do not fall by command.  There are some, however, who fall on command only while standing still.

Now, allow me to pass on to you some information that may enlighten you on the horses we use in films.   Our horses are a breed unto themselves. There are no horses in the world that can match their intelligence, dedication, and know how! We train them with love and kindness from colts, and when they are ready for pictures, they are broke to not "spook" when in explosions - gun fire from their riders - special effects like rain, wind, dust storms, and fire  -  locomotives with all their cars. I have in my time performed those falls you asked about. My horse and I have stayed on the ground when the script called for it and gotten up when it was called for. I hope I've answered your questions! 


Q. I have a question on stunt horses...especially the horses used in The High Chaparral. Is there a particular breed of horse that gets used more frequently in stunt work, either because of their innate intelligence, or because their conformation suits stunt work better? I think Mark's horse, Soapy, was a Quarter Horse, and that "toast bay" that Don rode looked like it had a lot of Thoroughbred in it, to me. Very lean and leggy (kinda like "Sam"). Leif's horse also looked like a QH, and so did Rebel, though Rebel was short coupled enough to have some Morgan in him, too... No guesses on the horse Bob rode, or on Mackadoo...Just curious.

A.  On stunt horses: There is no particular breed in the variety of stunt horses. As you said, the innate intelligence! Disposition! Willingness to learn! Adaptability to the environment of picture making! Soapy did have QH in him as did Rebel. And Don's horse, "Rudy" had thoroughbred in him. Mackadoo had QH in him. And I rode three different horses in the series, last one named "Ribbon" mixture of Arab & Q H. 


Q.   What were the breeds of horses they used in The High Chaparral and how tall was Mackadoo (and what breed)? 

A. The horses on H C were a variety of mixed blood lines. (Thoroughbreds - Quarterhorses - Arabians - Morgans - Mustangs - etc.)  Mackadoo stood a little over 15 hands to his withers.  (15 hands equals 5 feet) . 


Q.  Thank you Bob!  I had always wondered how big Mackadoo was. I did a lot of jumping in my past. Who was the rider who would do the "stunt jumps"? How big was the buckboard that they would jump? Looks close to 4 foot to me. Did they use a smaller model?  Also, when bullets are to be whizzing by you, how do they do that and can't you get hurt by it?  Love your work.

A.  There was no specific jumping horse rider who did only jumps. Most stuntmen who do Westerns are capable. The buckboard was a little over four feet. You were right! No, they didn't use a smaller model.  The near hits (whizzing by) sometimes are done with specially built pellet guns that shoot a dirt capsule. However they are dangerous, so all safety factors are in effect when shooting and when doing stunts.

High Chaparral article from: 
Western Horseman Magazine, July 1970
By Peg Pivirotto

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