For this installment of Star Crossed Horses, I was able to interview Torrance Coombs also known as Chase Powers in Heartland and Sebastian (Bash) in Reign.
Reign returns from hiatus on April 25th, with a few more episodes before the season ends. However, word is that Torrance has left the show for a new project – Still Star-Crossed. According to Deadline Hollywood, the show follows the Montagues and the Capulets after Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet ends.
1. When/how did you first learn to ride?
I first learned to ride in 2009 when I was cast in The Tudors. Prior to that, I’d never been on a horse before. I got to Ireland and they threw me on a very lazy horse that they knew wouldn’t cause me any trouble. I went riding every day and have never been so sore in my life, but I soldiered on.
2. In Heartland (as Chase Powers), you were essentially a western rider; for Reign, it’s mostly English. Which do you prefer?
Heartland was a bit of a shock to the system because I’d never ridden western before. They threw me on a horse and said “Let’s see what you can do.” I wasn’t prepared for how twitchy and responsive the horses were and had a lot of trouble adjusting at first. You barely have to touch Heartland’s horses and they seem to intuitively know what you want them to do. The Irish horses were beautifully trained also, but you really had to muscle them around a lot more. The Heartland horses all hated me at first for being too rough on them and sending mixed messages.
Going back to Reign, it was again an adjustment to go back to English. I don’t know that I have a preference, but I’m much more experienced in English now.
3. Do you have a favourite horse to ride? If so, please tell us about him/her.
Sid has been my main horse on Reign. He entertains me because he’s very majestic looking but has the most ridiculous personality. As soon as he hears “action,” he has to be the star of the show. His hobbies include chewing on sword hilts and scratching his butt on trees.
4. Do you ever ride outside of filming?
I don’t ride often outside filming, but every now and then the occasion arises. Usually a leisurely touristy trail ride somewhere.
5. Any behind the scenes stories to share?
Let’s just say that nothing spoils a dramatic moment quite like a horse fart.
6. What was your favourite horse-related scene to film for Reign?
In season one, I had to learn to steer a horse using only my legs while I held a crossbow in my arms. It was incredibly frustrating and challenging with very little practice, but it was very satisfying when we got it.
7. Do you have any special memories from your time on Heartland?
I have great memories working initially with the director, Steve DiMarco. Chase Powers was written as a bit of a jerk, but his personality needed some shaping. Steve helped me create a larger than life persona that I think the writers really ran with the following season. He gave me the courage to be a little over the top with the character, and I’ve tried to bring that bravery with me to other roles.
8. How much of your filming time is spent with horses?
Not much, sadly. We’re pressed for time, and injured actors cost production a lot of money, so a lot of the horse work is stunt doubles. As a matter of pride, we try to do as much of the riding as we can, but some days it’s a losing battle.
9. What do you enjoy most about working with horses?
Their personalities. Every horse is different, and you come to appreciate the differences the more time you spend around them.
10. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
The more I ride horses, the more I love it. It used to be something I’d dread when a scene called for it. Now, I relish the chance to work with them as often as possible.
Readers can learn more about the Cast of Heartland on CBC, and their Star-Crossed Horses on Horse-Canada; meet Graham Wardle, CBC Heartland’s Ty Borden, and meet Shaun Johnston, CBC Heartland’s Grandpa Jack, and meet Michelle Morgan, CBC Heartland’s Lou Fleming and meet Miranda Frigon, CBC Heartland’s Janice Wayne.and meet Madison Cheeatow, CBC Heartland’s Jade Virani.