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Why The Horses On Yellowstone Aren't Specifically Trained For Camera Work

If you've watched even a single episode of the Western hit series "Yellowstone," you know a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into getting a story from script to screen. With all the machinations involved in bringing an episode of the ranching saga together from one week to the next, it's a bit of a marvel. The production team not only makes it happen but makes it look so graceful. Still, of all the moving parts that go into the filming of "Yellowstone," the trickiest to navigate is likely the series' dedication to using, as much as possible, actual horses and livestock while filming. But that tactic continues to blend a much-needed layer of authenticity to the show and its exploration of modern cowboying.

Much has been made, of course, of the "Yellowstone" cast needing to attend a so-called "cowboy camp" to hone their horseback riding and wrangling skills. As noble and absolutely necessary as that requirement is, much still rests on each cast member's saddled backs and shoe'd hooves. Given the importance of the horses to the show, it might surprise you to learn the fine equine specimens you see dashing through the wilds of Montana on "Yellowstone" are not your average, camera-ready Hollywood horses. And it seems series creator Taylor Sheridan has a very good reason not to use such creatures.

Taylor Sheridan feels most Hollywood horses aren't safe enough to put actors on

While there's been plenty of talk about the "cowboy camp" the stars of "Yellowstone" are generally required to attend, just as much has been said of Taylor Sheridan's ranching background. The "Yellowstone" mastermind spent much of his youth on horseback and currently owns a pair of ranches, including the fabled Four Sixes ranch seen in his hit series. During a recent CBS Sunday Morning interview, Sheridan explained that many horses in "Yellowstone" come directly from his ranches.

If you're wondering why Sheridan uses his stock in lieu of camera-trained Hollywood horses, well, like any good cowboy, he doesn't entirely trust a horse he didn't have a hand in training. Specifically, Sheridan believes those camera-ready horses aren't safe enough to use the way his show dictates. "All the horses, for the most part, in our business are terrible," Sheridan bluntly told CBS Sunday Morning. He goes on to add the safety concerns involved with using them are indeed too much to take on for "Yellowstone," noting, "They're not very broke, they're not very safe, which is one of the reasons you don't see actors on them very often."

Sheridan's desire to put his actors on horses as often as necessary led him to take a different track, claiming, "I bought all the horses for the show and then taught the actors how to ride." And that is quite possibly the most cowboy thing a prominent Hollywood filmmaker has ever done in the name of his art.