Meeting Finder, the Horse Who Played Joey in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse

From childhood, we have always felt loved horses. We love horses so much that we have written two books about these amazing creatures. Just as millions of people around the world have, we watched the Thoroughbred Joey in Steven Spielberg’s movie War Horse and marveled at the horse’s acting and athletic ability. Remember the spectacular scene when Joey jumps over the World War I tanks? The horse’s keen intelligence and bravery heightened our regard for him from respect to awe.

Finder

Finder

What a treat it would be to actually meet Finder, the amazing horse who played the role of Joey, and his incredible trainer Bobby Lovgren. Part of our extensive research as co-authors with Robin Ganzert, PhD, president and CEO of American Humane Association, for our new book Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors, was to meet the celebrity animals who star in film and television and to interview their world-class trainers.

In mid-July 2013, we drove to the home of Bobby Lovgren, his wife Wendy, and their family. Coming from the Midwest’s Twin Cities, we were unaccustomed to the dry desert heat and cooled down by sipping on icy fruit smoothies. Relying on a crisp-voiced GPS navigator, we wound our way outside Los Angeles to a world where animals are the stars.

We arrived at Bobby’s home to find a horse ranch with stables and corrals. After graciously greeting us, Bobby and Wendy brought us into a spacious open room of their home. Its walls and shelving displayed photos and memorabilia from movies for which Bobby had trained and wrangled horses. The Lovgren’s home seemed like a sanctuary where a world-traveled trainer could rest and regroup with his family between assignments.

Interviewing Bobby

We set up our microphone and tape recorder and retrieved our notepads for taking additional notes. Bobby’s stories and adventures as a movie animal trainer kept us entertained and enlightened. He stressed his determination that safety protocols be followed for horses and other animal actors. He explained that he repeatedly practices any trick or action a horse is asked to perform. Without patience and careful practice, Bobby would not allow the horse to do the trick.

Finder and Bobby Lovgren

Finder and Bobby Lovgren

His one regret? Often scenes that took weeks of practice and orchestration to do safely, get attributed to CGI effects by audiences (and even movie reviewers).

Sometimes, Bobby has to refuse a director’s request for an action but usually can find a safe alternative for getting the same effect. He expressed his appreciation for having American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives on set. When Bobby feels concern over doing animal action, the safety reps are always firmly in his corner and helping to find other ways to accomplish the director’s goals.

Our conversation turned to talking about Finder. We had already interviewed Bobby on the phone for his story in Animal Stars, “Finder, as Joey in War Horse, a Director’s Dream Actor.” Bobby describes Finder is a Thoroughbred who adds a touch of attitude to every performance. One of the statements in his story had made us especially eager to meet this magnificent horse. He had said, “Finder is the most challenging animal I’ve worked with because he loves when cameras and people are around. They energize him. A professional, he brings something new to each scene.”

Meeting Finder

At last, it was time for us to meet Finder. As we walked to a fenced-in running area that held several horses, and Bobby left to bring the famous gelding to us, we talked to each other about all the kind words Steven Spielberg had said about Bobby and Finder. Flown to England for War Horse, Finder and Bobby impressed Steven Spielberg with their professionalism and skill. About the experience, the iconic director had written for Animal Stars, “I thought the centaur was a mythological creature until I watched Bobby Lovgren and Finder interacting. At one point, I could not tell man from horse. They both performed admirably.”

Finder

Finder

Soon, Bobby brought Finder to a large open area that he uses for training and exercising his horses. Beautiful, muscular, and confident, Finder strutted next to Bobby as they entered the arena. The power of Finder’s pride and presence was palpable. While some people meet a Holly wood star and feel disappointed, saying things such as, “He’s shorter than he looks onscreen,” Finder was even more imposing than he appeared in War Horse. Everything Bobby had told us about him was true–and more: This horse had attitude!

Bobby allowed Finder to show off a bit for his visitors by rearing up on his hind legs, running, and trotting. Finished for the time being with impressing us, he came over to where we had been watching him, awestruck. At Bobby’s instruction, Finder carefully lay down on the ground. We gathered around, knelt in the dust, and stroked our hands across his sleek back and sides.

Finder with Allen & Linda Anderson

Finder with Allen & Linda Anderson

The trust and affection between Bobby and Finder were total. It was apparent that these two knew each other well and deeply. We observed an unbreakable connection of two strong individuals who trusted and respected each other. They had become comrades, sharing their life’s adventures together.

In his story Bobby had commented on their teamwork by saying, “Although some might not call what Finder does acting, I’ve noticed that he heightens his actions when people are around. He lets me create emotions for him to show, and the expressions on his face make him easy to read. I’ve never seen a more expressive horse.”

Right about that! During a short photo session Finder made a special connection with Linda as he gently placed his head on her shoulder.

Bobby told us that American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit, which officially oversees hundreds of filmed media productions each year as part to of its “No Animals Were Harmed®” service, often brings new staff to the Lovgren ranch to watch Bobby properly and safely train and work with horses. As we left the Lovgrens and Finder, we felt honored to have met a matchless team of human trainer–and animal teacher.

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors by Robin Ganzert, PhD, and Allen & Linda Anderson with a foreword by “America’s Veterinarian” Marty Becker, DVM, is published by New World Library. It will be released as an e-book on August 19th in major e-book retailers and available in bookstores by September 25, 2014. For details on receiving a free gift with a pre-order of Animal Stars and to see endorsements from Temple Grandin, Naomi Judd, Lisa Vanderpump, Carson Kressley, Jon Turtletraub, Quentin Tarantino, Zac Ephron, and other celebrities, go to www.animalstarsbook.com.

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IS YOUR PET CONSIDERATE?

We don’t recall seeing articles about animal family members being considerate. There have been some studies showing animal altruism though.

In our home, our cat Cuddles lives up to her name and cuddles up next to Linda at night on our bed. She’s very considerate not to wake up Linda until morning, when she decides it’s time for her breakfast.

Our cockatiel Sunshine is considerate when we use the spray bottle, filled with warm water, to give him his morning bath. He raises his wings so we can spray under them and puts his head down for a good spray of his head feathers.

The reason this theme is on our minds today, though, is that our dog Leaf, one of our life’s greatest spiritual teachers, often shows us consideration. He’s definitely not a – my way or the highway – kind of guy.

Although we mainly do our writing at home, if we need to meet with a client, Linda carefully puts on her makeup to prepare. Sensing that we’re about to leave the house, Leaf is eager to kiss Linda’s face with his long, pink tongue. So Linda says, “Leaf, don’t kiss off all my makeup.” And she turns away so he can’t reach her cheeks.

The other day, it appeared that Leaf got the message. As Linda was ready to leave the house, she bent down to kiss him on his head. In turn, he very carefully kissed her only on the tip of her nose. With great discipline, he put his tongue back in his mouth and refrained from plastering her face with any more kisses.

Considerate.

Have your pets been considerate to you or others? Send us your stories to .

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network — Spiritual Perspectives for People Who Believe Pets Are Family Member
http://www.angelanimals.net

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week, send a blank message to
AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

What are favorite animal books you are reading now?

What Angel Animals Is Reading

Being authors of animal books, we are always fascinated by what others are writing on the subject. Below are some of the books we are reading and enjoying. Perhaps they will find their way to your bookshelf too.

THE INNER WORLD OF FARM ANIMALS: Their Amazing Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Capacities by Amy Hatkoff (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009, hardcover, $19.95, 176 pages, color photos) with a foreword by Jane Goodall and afterword by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States

The jacket for this informative, entertaining, and eye-opening book says, “Chickens can count. Pigs are smarter than poodles. Cows form close friendships. Turkeys know one another by their voices, and sheep recognize faces — of other sheep, and of people. Far from lacking thoughts and feelings, barnyard creatures demonstrate sophisticated problem-solving abilities, possess rich social lives, and feel a wide range of emotions.”

Getting to know farm animals in such an intimate way as they are presented in this book offers a perfect opportunity to love them as individuals. One of our favorite stories is “Hope and Johnny: Loyal and Loving.” It’s about two pigs from Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California. They were such loyal friends that when Hope’s leg was injured and she could no longer walk, Johnny kept other pigs from bothering her when she ate. Johnny stayed by Hope’s side day and night. After Hope died of old age, Johnny, although younger and healthier, died several weeks later, presumably of a broken heart.

Because of all the time and effort we put into writing our award-winning book RESCUED: Saving Animals from Disaster, we are always interested in good books about animal rescue. MOORE TAILS: Rescuing Mutts in the South: An Intimate Portrait of Animal Rescue & Cruelty by Maureen Burke-Horansky (2009, Ink Stain Publishing Corp., $15.00, 286 pages, color photos, authormaggie@pinehurst.net) is a unique entry in this genre.

This book shares the true story of five passionate women who managed to get a local North Carolina county animal facility to allow adoptions. The women fight animal cruelty and attempt to lower the kill rate in the facility. They are creative, courageous, and persistent.

Jane Goodall writes in a letter at the end of this book about the organization the women founded, Animal Advocates of Moore County, Inc. in Pinehurst, North Carolina. “Eight women in the village of Pinehurst learned of the euthanasia crisis from articles in the local newspaper. They met to form an organization of animal lovers, choosing to take action to resolve this grim situation. They began trapping feral cats, spaying and neutering them, inoculating them against disease. Then they offered a no-cost spay-neuter program for low-income residents. . .I support what they have achieved and urge you to support them in any way you can.”

Another animal rescue book that caught our attention is GREYHOUND TALES: True Stories of Rescue, Compassion, & Love, ed. By Nora Star, Inception by Kari Mastrocola, Introduction by Susan Netboy (1997, Lost Coast Press, Order: Nora Star, 9728 Tenaya Way, Kelseyville, CA 95451 or http://www.cypresshouse.com, $15.95, 116 pages, color photos).

This anthology of stories from wonderful people who rescue and adopt greyhounds offers insight into the once multi-billion-dollar greyhound racing industry and its tragic consequences for the six-thousand-year-old greyhound breed. It includes information on how to determine if adopting a greyhound is right for you and how to join the National Greyhound Adoption Network and subscribe to the GREYHOUND NETWORK NEWS quarterly newsletter.

On the back cover Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason, author of THE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF ANIMALS writes, “The people who tell their stories in this book show sympathy and compassion for these marvelous animals who are themselves so filled with sympathy and compassion for us, even though humans have proved to be such untrue friends. Somehow these dogs still love and trust us after all our degradation and betrayal. This in itself is a small miracle.”

What are favorite animal books you are reading now?

Do you have any ideas to share about bathing dogs and the interesting things birds do?

Birds and Baths

Sunshine

Sunshine

We recently wrote to our friends on different blogs: “Whistle short tune to our bird. He listens. Processes. 24 hours later repeats whistle with variations. The composer. Any bird stories?” The following are responses to that question.

Georgia: “When I played in a woodwind quintet at a house with a bird, the bird would whistle the flute part whenever we stopped for a break. Beautiful! (And smart.)”

Edward: “My cockatiel loves to listen to the HU cd. She cocks her head sideways and just gazes. She also whistles back to me when I play my flute.”

Another time we asked the following: “Gave dog a bath. Not his fave thing to do. Any ideas for how to make it easier?”

Cynthia: “I bathe my 3 dogs often and even though they don’t like it, I try to make it tolerable since I doubt they’ll ever find it fun. I talk to them the whole time — telling them how gorgeous they are, play music they like, snuggle during drying off time, play fetch after. They get treats after their baths.”

Bob: “Get someone else to do it!”

Leaf

Leaf

Joy: “I sing to Buster but he still doesn’t really like it.

Jessica: “I take my dogs to the Marriott Resort on Coronado Island and bathe them in the shower. While they don’t love the bath, they put up with it because they know that they’re on vacation and get to hang out by the pool all day.”

Persis: “I put on some music and tell to my dog all the things we will do after her bath like go out to the park and meet her doggie friends and eating nice, tasty food!”

Do you have any ideas to share about bathing dogs and the interesting things birds do?

What would your pet say if he or she could Twitter?

For those of you who might not know what Twitter is, it’s a social networking site on the internet where people have 140 characters to reply to the question: What are you doing? It’s the latest rage among folks with time on their hands and a wicked sense of humor. You can become our friend at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=711934289 and follow us at www.twitter.com/angelanimals

We asked the question of our Twitter followers and Facebook friends, “If pets could Twitter, what would they say?” We thought you would enjoy reading their answers.

Sarah: Mine would say, “Loving this sunny patch.”

Greg: A dog could say “arf” 46 1/2 times.

Sara:
“Going outside.”
“Going inside.”
“Waiting for breakfast.”
“Eating breakfast.”
“Going outside.”
“Going inside.”
“Searching trash cans”
“Nap time.”
“Going outside.”
“Going inside.”
“Waiting for dinner.”
“Eating dinner.”
“Going outside.”
Going inside.”

TreZa: Ever read the children’s book “Martha Speaks”? It’s about a dog that starts talking after eating alphabet soup : ) One of my favorites!

Tona: Pet me, pet me, pet me!

Stephanie: “Please be patient with me.”

Madeleine:
Why isn’t anyone scratching my tummy?
I just taught my owner a new trick.
I’m in the market for a new water dish. Any suggestions?

Greta: Why did she put the treat jar up so high?

Pat: Sam would say, “Stop wasting time with Twitter and get me a treat.”

Rita: Emily would say, “Thank God, Mom finally stopped petting me and left for work. I need my beauty sleep.”

Susan: Dinner, oh boy out, woof, woof, shake that blankie.

What would your pet say if he or she could Twitter? Remember, in 140 characters or less.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

Note: To subscribe to the free Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter send a blank email to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com