Boris the Brave


(south island New Zealand)
Here are some photos of Glenorchy, which is a little town in the mountain valley near Queenstown, near the lake (which has a dead giant in it, according to legend).
Known for stunning scenery, and adventure – and also being the site for alot of movies – including Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, Wolverine, Narnia (the prince caspian one) and some others.
This is how it looks in winter – imagine in spring, with flowers and leaves and butterflies everywhere!
check out the stars on the water!
We went to a horse riding place – which is where I met Boris, to whom I was allocated.
Boris is quietly famous because he was one of the horses for the “Riders of Rohan” –  in the Lord of the Rings (number 2).
Before he could get into LOTR, Boris had to pass a number of tests, including being able to gallop at top speed over uneven terrain and to gallop on command without stalling down a very steep slope (which is what the horses needed to do for the scene where the Riders of Rohan appear at the 11th hour with Gandalf to break up the siege at Helm’s Deep).
But the most interesting thing is that before Boris was finally cleared to be in LOTR he had to pass one last test – which was called the “Bravery Test”.   He had to demonstrate that he could keep his cool in the midst of simulated battle noise, people swinging swords, and being leapt at suddenly by huge NZ rugby players dressed up as Uruk Hai, (the super-size-warrior orcs).
So Boris was one of the intrepid galloping horses who passed the Bravery Test and got to be in LOTR.
Here is a photo of Boris’ famous bottom
This property has an interesting history.  It is just shy of 400 acres and is called “Paradise”.
It was bought last century by a an incredibly wealthy person who was unusual in his time for spending alot of money on a large picturesque property – and to hold it for conservation.  He apparently chose to live on the property himself with no grid facilities, ie no electricity, plumbing etc and lived happily there for many years.
The story goes that after he had lived there for many years he suddenly got diagnosed with a terminal condition and had only a few months up his sleeve.  He was concerned about this beautiful property being sold after his death to someone who would build a resort city, due to its beautiful location.  So he went on national TV and announced to the general public that before he died he was going to sell his property, for the price of $1.00, but it had to be to the right applicant (ie someone who would continue to hold it for conservation).  He got thousands and thousands of applications, which he apparently reviewed himself, individually.  He shortlisted thirty odd applicants and personally interviewed them all – only to discover that he wasn’t happy with any of them.
So he went to see his lawyer who set up an ongoing trust for him and that is where the property now is.  There are some horses and grazing animals there to keep the grass under control but otherwise it is a wildlife reserve.  The horse riding company has permission to take their horses through there but the trade off is that each ticket sold includes a donation to the ongoing conservation.  Apparently Peter Jackson (director of LOTR) made a huge donation to the property and also paid for the property to have a proper road put in.  Peter Jackson also fulfilled an additional commitment which was that the filming sites for LOTR were photographed and catalogued before filming commenced, and after filming was over, people were employed to go through and return every fallen log and every rock and every other landscape feature to its original position so that the ecosytem was returned as closely as possible to how it was and any damage done by the filming was repaired.
You have to go on the horse ride because they tell you all sorts of gossip about the filming of LOTR and stuff that you wouldn’t otherwise know, like Viggo Mortensen doing every single one of his own stunts (including riding and fighting) and Orlando Bloom turning up months in advance for intensive horse riding lessons so that he could do the same.    One of my most favourite scenes in LOTR where Arwen is on horseback and she has Frodo, who has been stabbed and she is riding to get him to safety while the black wizards are following her and she keeps her cool and outrides them etc.  That whole scene was filmed by a female stunt rider.  Apparently the actors and stunt riders, after filming was over, were given opportunity to buy the horses they had used and Arwen’s stunt rider desperately loved her horse but could not afford to buy it.  So it went to auction where it sold and the stunt rider was very upset, only to discover shortly afterwards that Viggo Mortensen had been the mystery bidder at the auction, and had bought the horse for her because he knew how much she loved the horse and that she could not afford to buy it.
And more interesting gossip.  The horse riding company was allowed to continue to take tours through there during the filming of The Hobbit, but each person on the tour had to sign a confidentiality agreement and pretend not to look as they went past the film site – and there were security guards there who checked everyone’s cameras as they rode past and deleted any photos that involved the filming site.
I wonder what Boris thought of that.
lots of love from me, and Boris the Brave.

6 July, 2014, Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand

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