4 Things You Didn’t Know About Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron

It’s been 15 years since the release of Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron, but this horse film has become a classic. In the spirit (heh) of childhood nostalgia, here are 4 you didn’t know about Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron

Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron was a groundbreaking movie in several different ways. Famous critic Roger Ebert commended the movie on its clean plotline. Unlike many animations, Spirit doesn’t feature a horse-shaped human. In the Spirit movie, the horses, unlike in many children’s movies, act and feel like horses.

Uncluttered by comic supporting characters and cute sidekicks, Spirit is more pure and direct than most of the stories we see in animation–a fable I suspect younger viewers will strongly identify with. — Roger Ebert review

Though nominated for Best Animated Feature of 2002, Spirit lost to Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. It was a modest success, ranking 4th in the opening weekend. Still, even 18 years later, it has a strong audience.

Since the film, Netflix released a series in 2017 based on the movie, named Spirit: Riding Free. The TV series follows Spirit, a son of the original movie’s stallion, and Lucky, a human girl who befriends him.

But there are still some things about this movie that are very interesting — here are four of them!

There is a real world Spirit

Movies about animals often “humanize” them, so they are more relatable. Sometimes this is giving them clear human-like features. Other times it’s, well, talking animals. As the horses do not speak, it was important to make them realistic.

So to make sure the animators had a good grasp on how a horse acts, DreamWorks Pictures went and bought one. Donner, a Kiger Mustang stallion, served as a model to the animators. They studied the Donner’s behaviour and mannerisms, to learn how horses work.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Donner of Steens Mountain is the real world version of Spirit. Image by Return to Freedom.

Spirit is the only horse in the movie who has a real-world version. But unlike his animated self, Donner was a domestic horse: he was born on a ranch in Bend, Oregon. After his stint in business, Donner became an ambassador for Kiger Mustangs everywhere. He currently lives at the Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation Centre. Lucky horse!

The first draft of the Spirit movie had dialogue

In producer Jeffrey Katzenberg’s vision, it was important that the horses didn’t speak. While there is narration, the horses in the Spirit movie only use body language and whinnies. This is rare in children’s movies. Katzenberg believed that if the horses talked, it would take away from the realism he wanted.

But this decision only came after screenwriter John Fusco’s first script. The original version was useful to storyboard, as it provided guides to the art. After the storyboarding, Katzenberg requested a dialogue-free version of the script. This is because he wanted Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron to be a serious film, and dialogue would weaken the ideas. Some of the dialogue later became the narration, voiced in the original version by Matt Damon.

Rain is a registered Paint Horse

As we’ve said above, Spirit is the only horse in the movie to have a direct real-world version. This didn’t stop the APHA from registering Rain as a real-world horse. Yes, Spirit’s delightful love interest is now a registered Paint Horse. One version of the certificate is now in DreamWorks’ headquarters.

Rain, from the Spirit movie, was the first animated horse registered in the real world.
A copy of Rain’s certificate, made by the APHA, is at DreamWork’s headquarters.

The American Paint Horse Association felt that Rain represented the breed to perfection. In their own words:

“Although she may only be an animated version of a horse, in her own way, Rain has exemplified the breed standards people have come to recognize in a Paint Horse.” –APHA Executive Secretary, Jim Kelley.

She is the first animated horse to have a real-world registry.

Cimarron means “wild, untamed” in Spanish

While there are several places named “Cimarron” out there, Spirit isn’t set in any one place. The landscapes of the movie come from different places. These include Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, as well as others. So what exactly is a cimarron?

Well, it’s a wild horse… in Spanish.

The Mustang isn’t exactly a wild horse (though it might as well be, after so long in the wild). Instead, it’s a feral breed, one that emerged from different domestic horses. There are several such breeds out there, but Mustangs are particularly iconic.

This popular breed comes mainly from Spanish stock. Other breeds had influence but at the time the movie was set, they were just cimarrones — wild, untamed horses.

You can buy a copy of this awesome film here on Amazon.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron FAQs

Who is the black horse in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron?

The black horse in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is Spirit’s dad, named Strider.

Who is Rain’s mum in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron?

Rain’s mother is named Sierra and her grandmother was a pampered riding horse named Bonita.

Will there be a Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron 2?

Although there are rumours, there has been no official news from Dreamsworks regarding Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron 2. However, Dreamworks released a TV series called Spirit Running Free.

Is Spirit a boy or girl horse?

Spirit is a wild Mustang stallion, male (boy).

Where and when is Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron set?

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is in a small fictional frontier town of Oregon called Miradero in the late 19th American west.

What color is Spirit?

Spirit has a dun coat. He has black legs, dark brown mane and dashing brown eyes

Who plays the voice of Spirit?

Matt Damon plays the voice of Spirit, a wild dun Kiger Mustang stallion living in the Wild West of the late 19th century.

How much did Matt Damon get paid for playing Spirit?

Matt Damon reportedly got pay $2.3m for being the voice of Spirit.

You can buy a copy of this awesome film here on Amazon.

Edit: this article was updated on the 03/05/2020 with more information and additional FAQs

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10 thoughts on “4 Things You Didn’t Know About Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron”

  1. It gives me pleasure to know that the model for Sprit is a real live horse. I feel spiecally close to Spirit because l have spent a lot of time in Bend, OR.

  2. My grandchildren were so overcome with emotion in this movie they cried. To this day it is my granddaughters fav movie!

  3. Ok have a special feeling for Spirit as I had a palomino mustang who I dearly loved. I also lived close to Bend, Oregon. I saw several wild horses around that area.

  4. My 6 year old daughter watches this movie several times a week and the Netflix show daily. She runs around being Spirit and even got me to paint her room with Rain and Spirit on her wall.

  5. Spirit is a beautiful movie that speaks for the wild horses. It’s still my daughter’s favorite movie and her two favorite colors of horses.

  6. I really enjoyed the movie, my granddaughter at the time watched it a lot. My only complaint is that horses do not lick water, they suck it up. thanks Cecile


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