Considered one of our 20 best horse movies, the movie Black Beauty (1994) was a staple in our childhoods. Even the toughest of equestrians held back tears during the intense emotional moments of the film.
One of the horses who played the role of Black Beauty is still alive and going strong!
A stunning black gelding named Billy was bred in Moscow and raced three times before coming to the United Kingdom.
For Black Beauty, Warner Brothers needed horses who were trained to pull carts and Billy fit the bill. Three other black horses came to Britain from the United States for the film.
Billy, who is an Orlov Trotter, was ridden by actors Sean Bean and Alun Armstrong. He had the second most amount of screen time as Black Beauty, following the quarter horse gelding Docs Keepin Time. He is best known for the scene where the barn is on fire.
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The gelding captured the heart of then 16-year-old Louise Maryon when she was his groom on set. “You just get some horses that you get a special thing with, they’re like people,” She said about her beloved Billy.
Her father was a stuntman on the set and told Maryon that grooms were needed, which is how she wound up working with Billy.
Black Beauty trailer. Get the tissues read!
“He had a false mane as his was quite short and they all had to have a white sock so that had to be sprayed on too.” Says Maryon.
When filming was finished two film horse suppliers wanted to purchase Billy, but Maryon didn’t want to be separated from him.
In true Black Beauty style, the head groom on set said that Maryon could have him. The two have been inseparable ever since!
Billy has also stared in a Guinness commercial and has done some music videos.
What Has Happened to the Black Beauty Horse Since the Movie?
In 2018, a birthday party was thrown in Billy’s honor where over 70 people were in attendance.
Maryon hosted an open house and people took photos with Billy and gave him treats. “When people see him they are star struck by him,” she commented.
Billy also made an appearance at the Arab Horse Society national show in Malvern and was mobbed by his fans, everyone wanted to take a selfie with the iconic gelding!
He absolutely adores the attention and knows just how special he is. He is completely at peace in large crowds and quite enjoys being the center of attention.
Though his acting days are now over, his life is far from boring. He lives a quiet life in the countryside near Llandysul with Maryon and his equine companion, Ritchie.
Recently, Billie has been honored as the recipient of a commemorative plaque recognizing his achievements in the film industry. Billy’s plaque hangs outside of his stable and reads “Home to one of Britain’s best-loved horse actors”
Maryon comments that receiving the plaque was “Just amazing,” and truer words could not have been said. Billy really has left a mark on all of our hearts.
As long as there are horse lovers watching Black Beauty, Billy will continue to be loved for generations to come.
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