Free Rein is a fun horse series that’s most popular with 8-16-year-olds. Now streaming in over 200 countries, the show first premiered on Netflix on June 23, 2017.
For those of you who don’t know, Free Rein follows the adventures of a young girl who meets a special horse on a British Island. If you love horses and good stories, I highly recommend you check out this charming horse-based Netflix show!
Fans of Free Rein can enjoy 3 seasons and two feature-length episodes on Netflix. These are Free Rein: The 12 Neighs of Christmas and Free Rein: Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, a fourth season is unlikely to happen, according to cast member Céline Buckens.
Here are 7 interesting facts about the Free Rein TV series!
Raven in Free Rein was Meant to be a Chestnut
The original script for Free Rein describes Raven as a chestnut horse. However, since stunt coordinator Steve Dent only had about two out of a hundred horses with that color, they ended up changing the script.
“I’ve got white horses ready, I’ve got black horses ready. They’re the colors for film” Steve Dent told the show’s director Paul Walker.
Raven in Free Rein is portrayed by a jet-black Friesian cross called Maca. She is Jaylen Barron’s favorite horse to work with, who plays Zoe in the series. She describes the horse as “the sassiest little thing” in Showtimes.com.
Free Rein is an Award-winning Series
A year after its release, Free Rein won two Daytime Emmy Awards in outstanding series and directing categories. “It’s still surreal to this day!” lead actress Jaylen Barron told Glitter magazine.
It’s good to see such a great horse series like Free Rein getting recognition. The show not only entertains, but also delivers an important message to audiences. Zoe and her friends demonstrate that life is all about falling off – and learning to pick yourself up again.
What’s more, in 2019 the show’s writers Vicki Lutas and Anna McCleery won a Writer’s Guild of Great Britain award for Best Children’s TV Episode. The show has also received a further four Emmy Awards nominations. A fantastic achievement to the hard-working cast and crew!
The Horse Playing Bob is a Rescue
Becky’s mischievous Gypsy Cob in Free Rein is played by a rescue pony called Benji. He was left on a field with no grass before a lady found him and nursed him back to life.
Today, Benji is a successful movie horse. Despite being much younger than the other horses on set, Benji is always ready for a challenge. He’s learned many tricks throughout his years in film, such as the Spanish walk, headshaking on command, or how to untie himself.
Free Rein co-writer Vicki Lutus has a soft spot for the adorable pony. “He’s the biggest diva on set, without a doubt,” she shared in Horse and Hound magazine.
Charlotte Dujardin Appears in Free Rein
Charlotte Dujardin is a living dressage legend who has won multiple Olympic medals. Astride her famous horse Valegro, Dujardin broke record after record and entered the history books of dressage.
The Olympian appears as herself in Free Rein Season 1 Episode 10 “Show-Down”. Her role involved judging Becky and Bob’s dressage performance and handing out the trophy at the end.
Surprisingly, Dujardin felt hesitant about being in a TV show at first. “I was very nervous to take part in this, but it was an amazing opportunity for a dressage rider like me and has a great cast,” she told Shropshire Star.
It’s safe to say that Dujardin made a lot of dressage fans happy by coming on the show. It was also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the cast and crew to work so closely with someone who has accomplished so much.
The Actress Playing Mia Also Appeared in War Horse
“Emilie” in War Horse was the first acting role of Celine Buckens, the actress who plays Mia in Free Rein. Emilie is the sickly granddaughter of a French farmer, who stumbles upon two horses inside a windmill. Her grandfather lets her keep the horses until they are taken away by the army.
Buckens was only 14 years old when she got the role of Emilie in War Horse. Being part of a Steven Spielberg movie was like a dream come true for her, the actress shared on Headstrong.
If you’re wondering how Celine Buckens came across this amazing opportunity, she auditioned for the role just like any other actor. She then got a callback to audition with the horses, where she told the classic white lie of “Yeah, I can ride horses”.
On Headstrong, she also shared that the horses of War Horse came from the same stables as the horses of Free Rein! She found it easy to work with the horses on both occasions, thanks to stunt coordinator Steve Dent and his team.
However, Celine Buckens is not the only Free Rein cast member with an impressive track record. Kerry Ingram, who plays Becky on the show, also appeared in Game of Thrones! Here’s what Jaylen Barron said about her fellow actress on Tribute.ca:
“Becky, played by Kerry Ingram, she literally, I think, is just like her character. She’s really kooky, but I love her. And she doesn’t care what anybody thinks and that’s what I love about her.”
Jaylen Barron Lied About Being Able to Ride
When it came to her audition, Barron assured the Casting Directors she knew how to ride. However, this was far from the truth. At that point, the actress had never even ridden a horse before and couldn’t have possibly known what she was getting herself into.
Lucky for her, riding lessons were mandatory on set and she could build her skills up from the basics. This was important for the safety of actors and the crew members around them.
“We would practice before work or in between scenes, or even on the weekends. The hours are really long but I think we all benefited from it, because I didn’t fall off a horse.” Jaylen Barron shared on Her Campus.
While her riding skills were getting better by the day, Barron still found it difficult to act as a natural rider. Sometimes, the horses she rode would make a move she didn’t expect, causing her to look awkward on camera. However, she was lucky to be working with incredibly well-trained horses that would never act dangerously under a rider.
Being around horses on set also sparked an interest in Barron she never thought she’d have. “I actually miss horse riding and I never thought that I would say that, I really do. It’s a really fun experience and I love animals — and it’s kind of a good workout.” (Tribute.ca)
Also read, 10 interesting facts about Jaylen Barron.
Jaylen Barron and Zoe Have a Lot in Common
The show’s star and her character are more similar than you’d think. Both Zoe and Barron are from the States and felt a bit thrown in at the deep end coming to Britain. “She didn’t know anything about anything, and I was the same exact way.” the actress told Her Campus.
But there’s more. Similar to Zoe, Barron came to the United Kingdom with her mom. Her dad only visited her occasionally, just like Zoe’s dad does in Free Rein. The two of them even fell in love with horses the same way!
However, a key difference between Barron and Zoe is age. Barron was in fact four years older than Zoe when Season 1 was being filmed. Even though she mostly played older characters, she found Zoe’s role a lot of fun to play.
The actress shared her experiences in Glitter magazine: “Playing Zoe is so refreshing because I’m used to playing such grown up roles that Zoe always brings me back down to Earth, she’s sweet, sincere, and driven. I often look into her character for some of my real-life obstacles and what she might do in those situations!”