Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Socky and the Russian Cossacks

Here's a blast from the past... 

This is my first horse, Wynsocky. He was a cute little grey guy who had a lot of scope over fences. That was important to me when I was a whole lot younger than I am now!!

I loved his 'raccoon' mask. 
He was a sweet first horse.

Socky was a great Pony Club horse. He took me over many cross-country courses, through the hunt field, and begrudgingly, around the dressage ring. He had a short, squatty neck and resisted being ridden 'on the bit'. But I have to admit that he, like me, had little regard for rigid rules and boundaries! We both preferred a more casual style - trail rides were far more preferable than work in a ring!

A few of my high school friends were interested in creating movies. What they wouldn't have given for digital video!  But they had all of the necessary equipment of the day:  cameras, lights, tripods and lots of Kodak 8mm film. They scripted and story-booked their movies. They shot and edited the end results, and our high school class (all 28 of us) had the opportunity to attend the first screenings. One spring the 'producers' decided to shoot a movie involving the Russian Cossacks. To this day I can't quite figure out why! I even called one of the guys involved in the production of this fine film to ask him why they chose the subject... and he couldn't remember either. 
One of the scenes involved the village peasants working in the fields. Suddenly, there is the sound of a horn and a battalion of Russian Cossacks on fiery steeds come galloping over the hill to slay the lowly peasants. So, the producers needed 'fiery steeds'. Of course Socky would be perfect in this role, as would the horses of several of my friends. We all met at a local park that had the perfect topography. There was a nice 'valley' where the peasant actors and actresses could pretend to be working in their fields. There was a nice hill that would hide the Cossacks until they came to the crest and then they could swoop down on the unsuspecting peasants in the fields. 
The day for filming arrived. A perfect day - hard to come by in this part of the northeast. I arrived at the barn to get my fiery steed ready for his film debut. I wasn't going to be riding him - I was playing the role of a peasant. Again, it escapes me as to the thinking behind this!  (a premonition on my part?) I rode Socky over to the filming location and got the Russian Cossack actor settled on him, adjusting the stirrups and giving him the basic 'driving' instructions. You know; pull the right rein to go right, the left rein to turn left. Pull back to slow down or stop. 
Soon the director called 'places'. I took my hoe and joined others in the field. The call came for the Cossacks to charge, and charge they did. It was a beautiful scene. Just as the directors had imagined. The horses (all four of them) thundered over the crest of the hill at great speed. The Cossack's garb was flapping, the hooves thundered. We, the Russian peasants, looked up in horror. The horses came down into the field amongst us. The horses spied the rag tag group of peasants with hoes and rakes. The horses saw the cameras on tripods. The horses looked at us in horror. These things didn't belong In their park! The horses abruptly stopped moving forward and took quick movements sideways. Russian Cossacks littered the ground and horses scattered in all directions. A lively, ad-libbed hand-to-hand combat ensued, minus a few of us who went to collect the wayward steeds. 
We watched the film and laughed. It all looked great. In our eyes it was perfect. 
Oh, what I wouldn't give to see that film footage today!


  1. A victory for the peasants!

    That is hilarious. Such creativity! Did any of the producers or actors go on to have a career in the film industry?

    What a fun memory. Your description made it real for me too.

    And Wynsocky (great name) is adorable. You know I'm a sucker for the greys.

  2. Oh how funny! I'm betting that footage would be an absolute blast to watch now :o)

    I'm with Once Upon on the name - love it!

  3. A film classic! Thanks for the story, it was funny. Everybody's first pony should be like your Socky.

  4. I always loved dapples. Never been lucky enough to own such a beauty.

    Re comment: We have another gray stripped but he wasn't cooperating for the photo!

  5. I recently had all remaining (my spoiled baby brother destroyed many reels during his childhood) 8mm home movies converted to DVD so all of us (siblings, cousins, and other "talent") can enjoy without the hassle of threading the ancient 8mm projector. If your buddy can locate the film, perhaps you should have it converted to DVD so it can be shared.


  6. It sounds wonderful. I'd like to see it too. I'm impressed that your class made movies. I don't think ours ever did.

  7. Hysterical! I can see it unfolding...

  8. LOLOLOL! You made me laugh OUT LOUD CONTINOUSLY with your description of the Cossacks strewn about LOL
    Ah, I think there should be a remake, or maybe a part two ; the Peasants revolt (or is that the horses LOL!)


  9. Ahahahaha!! I can totally see that in my mind and can just imagine what was going through those horses heads when they crested the you a whole new appreciation for the horses who are specifically trained for movies...they are indeed a special breed.


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