Horse Tale

Voice over or on camera, sometimes the most mundane gigs turn out to be the most memorable.

Grindstone Pic 1Let’s face it, for actors, some jobs are thrilling from the time we get the breakdown – others, well…not so much. When it’s voicing a national ad campaign for an iconic product, narrating a documentary on an important subject, creating the voice of an awesomely drawn cartoon character, or, for crossover actors like me, reading for a movie or TV show, most actors’ blood pressure rises just a bit when we see those pop into our inboxes. But how about hosting a veterinary industrial film on equine health? Sounds dull, right? That’s what I thought. But I was wrong!

And to think, I almost passed on the audition! The call was 30 miles away from my house, and I’d read for this client before with no success. I knew I would be required to work with a teleprompter, a very specific skill that was relatively new to me. The veterinary language was a tongue twisting challenge and I messed up every other word. I left the audition thinking there was no way in heck I would book that job. It was a pleasant surprise when my agent called to say I got it, but I never would have predicted I’d be blogging about it a couple of years later.

By all indications it looked like I’d be spending my time on set expounding in my best supposedly expert manner on the scintillating subjects of intestinal parasites and skin disorders, while trying my best to avoid stepping in “land mines.” Maybe they would pair me with a tired old nag, which would be cool, but basically I’d be marking time and collecting a paycheck. Turns out, that job is one of the coolest I’ve ever done.

When I arrived at the location that first morning I was led to beautiful stables – nicer than some apartments I’ve lived in. I’m kidding. No, I’m not. All of the animals in the stalls were fine specimens, but the first horse I was paired with was special. He was a stunning black stallion with one definitive white spot halfway down his nose. We managed to get a few set-ups “in the can” before this handsome fellow had had enough of that foolishness and became a bit too feisty for our little video shoot. He was led back to his stall where he proceeded to turn his back on us peons and tuck into a large portion of high quality feed. A calmer mare was brought in to finish the day’s shoot.

It was only afterwards that I learned that the first horse I had been working with was the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, now retired to stud at these stables outside Newberg, Oregon! Here’s a video clip of the race, which Grindstone won with an incredibly exciting charge from the back of the pack:

That horse definitely knew he was the baddest dude on set that day, and after seeing that clip, I wouldn’t think to question it! I’m just glad he put up with the likes of me long enough to get the shots we needed.

The shoot lasted three days, with two additional days of VO sessions. It was great to get a weeks’ work, but more importantly, to have a terrific memory to add to my “life reel.” And to think, I almost didn’t go to the audition! If I ever needed a reminder to embrace every opportunity that comes along for the possibilities it might hold, that job was it!

So the next time you read for a highly technical industrial project or a medical training piece, embrace the challenge and make the most of it. You never know when you might wind up with a horse tale of your own to tell!