Friday, April 10, 2009

2009 South Carolina Horse Master Shoot


Its been a busy week and I can hardly wait to get home to see my husband, the pups and the horses and sleep in my own bed. I hope to spend the entire day tomorrow in my PJs, slounging around the house and doing absolutely nothing. Each morning this week, when the 5:30a alarm went off, I thought about how great Saturday would be.

My film crew and I all converged in Savannah GA on Monday and made the 90 minute trek up to the SC coast, to a small private island called Fripp Island, where our accommodations for the week were. It is always good to have everyone together againHeidi, the producer; Steve, videographer extraordinaire; Cheryl, wardrobe; Lucy and T, assistant trainers; and Carolyn, facilitator and craft services (she takes care of our meals and personal needs). We were also joined for this shoot by Jackie, who we hope will become part of our permanent crew, as key grip (the grips do anything and everything, taking care of loose ends and helping Heidi keep track of what has been filmed, the time codes and what needs to be done).

It was very cool to be staying on the resort island, just off the beach, but frankly, we worked sun-up to sun-down and never had any time to enjoy the amenities. Thats sort of the story of my life. I go a lot of really cool places but rarely have time to sight-see or relax. But it still beats never going there to begin with.

We were filming at Camelot Farms; a boarding, lesson and trail ride facility, just a 15 minute drive from the island (they have an awesome beach ride). Our hosts, Anne and Mark Kennedy, were unbelievably warm and welcoming and their beautiful farm, in the SC low country provided a beautiful back drop for taping the show. They catered to our every needright down to golf carts for the crew and a private trailer for me to change clothes in (which I do about 6-8 times a day during a shoot). It wasnt a typical Hollywood trailer, but a living quarters horse trailersright up my alley.

This is the area of SC where much of Forest Gump was filmed and, in fact, the farm was located on the same road where the famous Run Forest, run scene took place. With beautiful live oak trees, draped in Spanish moss, palmetto and salt-water marshes, we were always oohing and awing over the scenery. As we drove back and forth from the island, we passed a dock for shrimp boats that was quite reminiscent of the movie.

As usual, we filmed six episodes in three daysTue-Wed-Thu. Tuesday was the hardest dayweather wise. It was unseasonably cold (high about 52 degrees) and with high winds. We were all very cold the whole day, but since our schedule is so tight, we just had to work through it. So much for all the cute summery outfits I hadI wore my heavy coat the whole time. A soak in a hot bath back at the house never felt so good. Wednesday was hard too since that is definitely our hump day and it turned out to be cold as well. On Wednesday, we finish three episodes and start three more. We start filming at the very first ray of sunshine and we tape until the light is completely gone. Its an arduous day and one that I am always glad to see come to an end.

On Thursdays, all we have to do is end three episodes and then pick up miscellaneous stuff like commercials, voice-overs and background footage. Ending an episode is pretty easyits only a 3-4 minute segment where I just follow-up after the person has practiced and give them a few things to work on in the future.

The toughest part of each episode is the beginning. First we film the before footage and that is where we figure out what exactly the show will be on. Theres not enough time in each episode to cover all of the issues, so we have to really narrow it down. Also, often the episode ends up being on a totally different topic than what we thought, based on the owners application. For one thing, often the problem is not really what the owner complained about, but something more fundamental that must be corrected before the real complaint can be addressed. And often, we cannot get the horse to display the problem behavior on demand. Theres something uncanny about a horses ability to be good when you say hes bad and visa-versa. So we definitely have to roll with the punches.

I think we got some really good episodes this week. We had a Rocky Mountain horse that needed to learn a pivot on the haunches to show successfully in Western Pleasure (not an easy feat in a gaited horse); and a rescued Thoroughbred that needed reconditioning after his bout with near starvation. Plus a young TB-Trakhener cross that was spoiled and rude and had learned to rip the line away and run-off while being longed. Then there was another TB that had no real behavioral problems but was a lazy horse and was not performing well enough to show in Dressage, as his owner aspired to. And yet another TB, fresh off the track, that was ready to start a new career as a Hunter and the owner needed to develop a plan for starting him over fences. Finally, we had a QH mare that was throwing her head and running through the bridlethat turned out to be a bitting issue and once we changed bits and I did a little bit of schooling on her, she made a dramatic change.

All in all, it was a very successful week. We all worked really hard but there is always a satisfaction in completion and a job well-done. Thursday night, our hosts organized a wrap party at a nearby restaurant and a good time was had by all. In keeping with the southern culture, we had roasted pig, collards greens and baked beans; the food was great and the company even better. Waking up one more time at 5:30, we were on the way to the airport by 6:30a eastern and with a little luck, Ill be home by 6:00p mountain. Its been a long 10 days and I am ready to be home.

All the best,


For training tips from Julie, visit the Training Library at and check out her online store--full of training tools and DVDs-- at


  1. Julie and the gang: thanks for so many wonderful memories and your choice of Camelot Farms for your shoot. We are fans of your entire crew for life: regards to all along with our hopes that you will visit the lowcountry again. And tell Steve that his stunt double is always ready for those critical shots: Regards: Mark and Anne, Camelot Farms LLC

  2. Julie, you totally deserve a good pajama day! ;) Sounds like an interesting show series coming up. Especially the TB that takes the longe line and runs, LOL! I love the movie Forest Gump, thanks for sharing that you filmed where that scene was from.
    I try to catch your show when I am visiting my parents (they have RFD T.V.) I really enjoyed the episode last weekend where you were working with a gray TB ex-racehorse who didn't know how to relax or just stand without moving.

  3. I watched your show yesterday, and try to catch it as often as possible. You're a great trainer and instructor -- I love your patient, clear manner.

  4. Thank you all for being loyals viewers (and readers!)


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