From riding a mule in Storm Rider to dashing along a canyon in Survivor, Danielle Chuchran is quite the accomplished rider. Her resume includes appearing in The Wild Stallion and Mochila: A Pony Express Adventure in addition to playing the lovable Mary Ingalls in the 2005 TV miniseries Little House on the Prairie.
1. When/how did you first learn to ride?
I have been around horses my entire life. My aunt breeds, trains and shows Arabian and Andalusian horses, so she’s had me on them since I was a baby. But it wasn’t until around nine that I really started riding and falling in love with it.
2. Do you have a favourite horse to ride? If so, please tell us about him/her.
Ohhhh my goodness… I honestly can’t answer that question. There are SO many horses that I LOVE riding. Of course, my two boys are my absolute favourites. There is nothing in the world that compares to the time I spend with them. My purebred is my adventurer; he is my go-to when I just want to let loose. We love running through the mountains bareback and exploring. My half Arabian, Marquis, is more my laid back babe, we love (okay…he loves) grazing on the hilltop and going for nice relaxing trail rides. Those two boys make me so happy.
3. Do you ever ride outside of filming?
ABSOLUTELY! I am always on a horse, trail riding, working horses with my aunt. I’m working horses at least three to four times a week. All the riding offset has certainly helped with everything I’ve needed to do on set.
4. How was it like to ride “Storm” the mule?
I really had never been around or spent time with mules before, but in all honesty…I almost took that little goofball home with me when we wrapped. I LOVED my George! That boy went wherever and everywhere I asked him. They are incredibly smart and I legitimately loved being around the mules.
5. Do you have any current projects you’d like to share?
A film I did last year called Riot with Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Liddell was recently released. I had the opportunity to film a pilot for ABC, The Death of Eva Sophia Valdez, with Gina Torres, which was such a blast. I recently wrapped on a film called Knockout, which was crazy fun to film. It was all shot in first-person perspective. I am currently getting ready to start a film next week called Pursued that I can’t wait to share more on in the future!
6. Any behind the scenes horse-related stories to share?
Lol, I’ve had quite a few funny behind the scenes moments when working with horses. I feel that’s bound to happen. I’ve been launched through a metal fence covered in barbed wire when my horse ran out of control in the mountains, jumped over a flaming log to escape a barn engulfed in flames and the horse had never seen fire before as we were trapped inside, had a horse lose its footing pulling a buggy uphill and have to jump out and try and get the horse and rig up with my co-star as it’s sliding down a hill. I do have to say one of my favourites was battling laughter the entire time riding double bareback with Rocky Myers while filming Survivor when we were galloping around the rocky canyon. He was so
uncomfortable and for some reason the grunting sounds every time it would get bumpy made me die laughing. (I’m literally belly laughing right now just thinking of it.)
7. Please tell us about your experience for Mochila: A Pony Express Adventure.
What a fun project! Mainstay Productions and John Lyde never cease to amaze me. We shot that in a two-day period. It was an amazing cast and crew. We always have so much fun working together. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. It was raining most of the time which made for some stunning shots.
8. What was your favourite horse- (or mule) related scene to film?
I’ve honestly filmed so many I don’t know if I could pick just one. I have had some incredible experiences working with animals, horses especially. I’d probably have to say anything that allows me to be in the saddle, filming with horses on the ground is always fun but riding them throughout scenes is even more fun. I especially loved working with the baby mules on Storm Rider – they were precious!!
9. What do you enjoy most about working with horses?
Words can never express the love that I have for horses. Their unique individual personalities bring so much happiness to my heart. I love getting to work with the same horses repeatedly because you really build a bond, they learn to trust you and you them. I treat them just like I do anyone else, they’re usually the first ones I say good morning to on set, and always get kisses after we wrap.
10. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
I have been unbelievably blessed with the opportunity to work with some incredible animals and handlers. They continue to make my filming experiences greater every time. I’ve learned so much through not only having my own animals but working with them especially. I can’t wait to do more projects with those sweet ‘lil buggers on set!
Read about the Pony Express on Horse Canada, and watch Danielle Chuchrun in Mochila: A Pony Express Adventure on YouTube.