by Patricia N. Saffran
The most spectacular scenes in the live-action remake of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, 2017, feature stunning horses and a variety of carriages.There are many breeds and crossbreds represented and each horse is turned out to perfection. Emma Waton as the heroine, Belle, rides the svelte white Philippe, and Luke Evans as the villain, Gaston, rides the black Magnifique.
Philippe, Magnifique and the other horses in the movie come from Steve Dent, based outside of London in Buckinghamshire. Mr. Dent is one of the main sources of horses, carriages, armor and stunt riders to the film and TV industry. Steve Dent’s carriage supervisor for the movie, Haydn Webb, also has a custom wedding and events business in Berkshire which he characterizes, "We at Haydn Webb Carriages pride ourselves in presenting our original carriages exactly as they would have looked at the height of Edwardian elegance. From the horses’ carefully oiled hooves to the beautiful silk top hats of the liveried coachmen, the quality is in the detail."
Mr. Webb said about Beauty and the Beast, "It’s the most enjoyable film with horses I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve been in the movie industry for forty years. The director, Bill Condon, was really patient and allowed us time for scenes with the horses. There’s a scene where Belle’s horse, Philippe, who is Spanish, gallops back loose to the village, and the director made sure we had enough time to get that scene right. Spanish horses are easy for the actors to ride [because they learn their roles quickly]. Emma Watson (Belle) did really well handling Philippe - everyone was impressed by her riding.
For the sequence where the donkey pulls around a wash tumbler in a circle, that took training and time, too." Mr. Webb explained about the breeds in the film, "Magnifique is a Friesian cross. He doesn’t have a lot of feathers at his feet. He’s very big and Luke Evans (Gaston) who rides him is also big.
Luke’s sidekick in the movie, Josh Gad (LeFou), is short and he rides a smaller horse, a Gypsy Cob. He just sat on his horse and didn’t give him any aids, then Josh couldn’t understand when his horse wandered all over. Josh had come to us a while before for riding lessons. For the carriage horses, we used a lot of different breeds including English, Irish and Hungarian horses. When a prison wagon comes into the village, the director wanted it to be impressive, so we had it pulled by four pure Friesian stallions." The Friesians add pure drama.
For more information about Haydn Webb see – www.hwcarriages.co.uk.