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Does the ‘Yellowstone’ Cast Really Ride Their Horses? Plus, Find Out Who Had To Go To Cowboy Camp!

We’ve watched the Duttons and their crew take to the fields of their famed ranch on horseback episode after episode, and while TV magic might make these beloved characters look like pros, that wasn’t necessarily the case for every actor apart of the ensemble, at least not at first.

Here, find out which members of the Yellowstone cast can really ride horses, what went into getting your favorite actors and actresses acclimated with these mighty animals and how they manage to make everyone look like a pro on the screen.

Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser and Kevin Costner
Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser and Kevin CostnerParamount Network

Welcome to cowboy camp

When it came to bringing the series to life, Taylor Sheridan immersed his actors and actresses in what has come to affectionately be referred to as cowboy camp, honing their skills and getting them comfortable with this way of life that they would be portraying.

I don’t rehearse with my actors,” said Taylor Sheridan in a behind-the-scenes video for the Yellowstone spinoff, 1883. “There’s no way to inform them what this way of life is, you just have to do it. I just take them out and put them to work.”

“The better I can make them as a rider, the more they understand the thing they’re acting out, the better the performance is, the more authentic the scenes look, then it looks real,” he explained.

Many members of the Yellowstone cast have given a glimpse into what “cowboy camp” was like. For some of the actors, the experience was a piece of cake, while for others, it was a bit less glamorous. Denim Richards, who plays the part of Colby, suffered from altitude sickness in the midst of his training.

The cast and crew described this crash course as four days out in the wild with real-life cowboys by their side.

Being a horseman, you have to learn everyday,” said Forrie J. Smith in a behind-the-scenes video describing Yellowstone‘s cowboy camp.

Which ‘Yellowstone’ cast members can really ride horses?

While most members of the cast got a crash-course in horse riding, some came in with a head start. Actors like Kevin Costner, Wes Bentley, Forrie J. Smith, Ryan Bingham and Kelly Reilly were some of those who had experience on the back of a horse prior to the show.

Stars like Luke Grimes, who plays Kayce in the Yellowstone cast, had some experience with horses, but being that his character was a trainer, it was necessary for him to look natural — that being said, cowboy camp was a necessity.

Cole Hauser, Kelly Reilly
Cole Hauser, Kelly ReillyParamount Network

For some, riding didn’t come so easy. In an interview with Deadline, Taylor Sheridan explained of Jefferson White, who plays Jimmy, “Jimmy (Jefferson White) grew up in New York and pretty much had never seen a horse, and I put him on one in an arena and I remember, we had him out there two or three days in a row…horseback riding is all about trust between horse and rider.”

After a somewhat rocky start, White was committed to learning. Sheridan continued, “And when he got off, he said, I’ll fix this, I promise. He had these saddle sores he never told anyone about, and he’d bled through his jeans and all over the saddle.” Talk about commitment!

How much riding does the cast actually do?

The cast of Yellowstone does their own riding on screen, and even perform some of the stunts themselves. However, in certain, more extreme instances, stunt doubles are utilized for their safety.

Denim Richards
Denim RichardsParamount Network

For example, in Jimmy’s rodeo scenes, they combine shots of him on a mechanical bull with shots of his stunt double.

“I try to, as a stunt coordinator, is put the actors in the situation as much as possible so we’re not just always relying on doubles,” says Jason Rodriguez, the stunt coordinator for Yellowstone. “The actors do a lion’s share of their action themselves and we really try to work to choreograph and make the scenes in such a way that they can do that.”

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