Recently I had the chance to speak with William Shatner regarding his new book, Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable. Mr. Shatner is, of course, well-known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in the Star Trek franchise, but he has also appeared in many other productions over the years. He is an experienced equestrian; has ridden for many productions, including Alexander the Great, and is also the founder of the Priceline.com Hollywood Charity Horse Show, sponsored by Wells Fargo.
1. How did you get the idea for Spirit of the Horse?
I have been evolving the concept, the philosophy, if you will, of the soul and the heart of the horse being far more than we give credit. But, in fact, I would expand that to all animals, all non-human entities are far more intelligent, far more perceptive, far more sentient than we give credit to everything. Which includes the plant family. We know that there is an intelligence at work there as well.
2. Which story in the book resonated with you the most?
Well, they all resonated with me, that’s why they are in the book.
3. Is there one specific one that resonated with you the most, though?
You want me to choose a story? The story of the horse falling on me, and my getting up and falling down, which led me to understand how I would play the death of Captain Kirk.
4. What is one thing you want readers to take away from reading the book?
The unification, the unity, of all life, how we’re all related. The DNA of trees is not dissimilar to our DNA. All life is united by the life force and by the chemistry of life. In this case, I’m writing about horses, but it could be about any animal, whether it’s a slug or an orca. They all have their place and niche in nature and we need to recognize how unified life is and how we humans are only a small part of it.
5. How has being an equestrian affected you as an actor?
Horses are prey animals, and prey animals can’t think about yesterday when they just escaped the wolf and they can’t think about tomorrow and whether the tiger’s going to get them. They have to be aware of now, under their circumstances. They have to live in the now and that’s what I think horses have to teach us.
6. What is your favourite horse-related memory?
The beauty, the physical beauty of the horse. I’m just thinking right now of a particular horse, we call him Picasso; how beautiful he is, both inside and out. He’s a loving horse, he’s gorgeous, physically, and he’s a fine performer.
7. You’ve previously appeared on Murdoch Mysteries, do you think you’d ever appear on another CBC show, like Heartland?
Canadian television is very wonderful, and I’d be proud to be on any television show.
8. If you could meet any horse from history, which would it be?
9. What can you tell us about the Priceline.com Hollywood Charity Horse Show, sponsored by Wells Fargo?
It has been around for 30 years, I’ve run it for 30 years. Over this time, I’ve raised millions of dollars for children and in the last few years for veterans as well. Many of our charities are riding therapeutic programs, which uses a horse for therapy, whether it’s an adult whose been at war or a child who is immobile. Some magic takes place after a brief time and everybody improves. So the Hollywood Charity Horse Show is a conduit to these charities. Every dollar that we raise, every dollar, every penny, goes to the charities. No money is kept for administration purposes. HorseShow.org will tell you how to make a contribution of any amount of money; as I say, all that goes to the kids.
10. What can you tell us about filming A Sunday Horse? Do you have any funny stories from that production?
I was riding a strange horse. I had to get to know the horse, and one of the best compliments I ever had was the director, who was a horse person, said, “He’s got hands of silk.”