How to Become a Horse Riding Stunt Double 2024

woman riding on back of horse

If you have a passion for horse riding and want to work in the entertainment industry, becoming a horse riding stunt double may be your perfect career path.

As a horse-riding stunt double, you will have the opportunity to work on film sets and television shows, performing stunts and helping to bring exciting scenes to life.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps you must take to become a horse riding stunt double.

A horse leaps over a flaming hurdle, rider standing tall with arms outstretched. Another horse gallops alongside, rider performing a daring mid-air transfer

First and foremost, having a solid foundation in horseback riding is important. You should be comfortable riding horses in a variety of settings, including on trails and in arenas.

Additionally, you should have experience with different riding styles, such as English and Western riding.

A strong background in horseback riding will help you to perform stunts safely and confidently, which is essential in this line of work.

The next section will discuss the specific skills and training you will need to become a horse riding stunt double in the entertainment industry.

Understanding the Role

A horse leaps over a flaming hurdle, with a rider standing on its back, arms outstretched for balance. The crowd cheers as the stunt double showcases their skill and fearlessness

Job Description

As a horse riding stunt double, your job is to perform dangerous stunts on horseback in place of an actor. You will be responsible for executing stunts that involve falls, jumps, and other high-risk maneuvers. Your job is to ensure the scene looks realistic while keeping the actor safe.


Your primary responsibility as a horse riding stunt double is ensuring that the stunts you perform are safe and realistic.

This involves working closely with the director, stunt coordinator, and other production team members to plan and rehearse stunts before filming begins. You may also be responsible for training actors to ride horses and perform basic stunts.

Risks and Safety

Horse riding stunt doubles face a variety of risks on the job. These can include falls, collisions, and other accidents that can result in serious injury or even death. To minimize these risks, it is important always to follow strict safety protocols.

This may include wearing protective gear, using safety harnesses, and working with experienced stunt coordinators who can help you plan and execute stunts safely.

Overall, becoming a horse riding stunt double requires a combination of skill, experience, and a commitment to safety. If you are interested in pursuing this career, it is important to start by developing your riding and stunt skills and building a network of contacts in the film industry.

With dedication and hard work, you can become a successful horse riding stunt double and help bring exciting action scenes to life on the big screen.

Getting Started

A horse gallops through an obstacle course, leaping over barriers and weaving through tight spaces. The rider maintains a strong and confident posture, demonstrating skill and control

If you have a passion for horseback riding and want to become a horse riding stunt double, there are a few things you need to consider before getting started. In this section, we will go over the education, physical fitness, and basic training you need to become a successful horse riding stunt double.

Education and Background

While there are no specific educational requirements to become a horse riding stunt double, having a background in horseback riding can be beneficial.

It is recommended that you have experience riding horses and understand the basics of horse care and handling. Additionally, having a martial arts or gymnastics background can help perform stunts.

Physical Fitness and Skills

Being physically fit is essential for a horse riding stunt double. You need strength, agility, and balance to perform stunts while riding a horse.

In addition to regular exercise, it is recommended that you practice swimming to improve your endurance and lung capacity.

Basic Training

Before you can start performing stunts, you need basic horseback riding and stunt work training. You should take lessons from a reputable horse riding school and work with a professional stunt coordinator to learn the necessary techniques and safety protocols. Some of the basic training you may receive includes:

  • Mounting and dismounting a horse
  • Riding at different speeds and gaits
  • Jumping and falling techniques
  • Harness and rigging work

Following these guidelines and getting the necessary training and experience can make you a successful horse riding stunt double.

Specialized Skills

A horse jumping over a flaming obstacle with a rider in a dramatic stunt position, showcasing the specialized skills of a horse riding stunt double

As a horse riding stunt double, you need specialized skills that go beyond basic horseback riding and stunt training.

Here are some specialized skills you need to develop to become a successful horse riding stunt double.

Advanced Horse Riding

To become a horse riding stunt double, you must have advanced horse riding skills. This means that you need to be able to ride horses at a high level of proficiency and be comfortable performing difficult maneuvers, such as jumps, spins, and gallops.

You should also have experience riding different types of horses, such as thoroughbreds, quarter horses, and Arabians.

Stunt Specific Training

In addition to advanced horse riding skills, you need to have specialized stunt training. This includes training in martial arts, swordplay, and stage combat. You need to be able to perform stunts that involve fighting, falling, and jumping off horses. It would be best to have experience working with harnesses and other safety equipment.

Weaponry and Combat

As a horse riding stunt double, you may be required to use weapons and perform combat maneuvers. This means you need to have experience with different weapons, such as swords, guns, and knives. You should also know how to perform different combat maneuvers, such as punches, kicks, and throws.

You need to develop these specialized skills to become a successful horse riding stunt double. Combining advanced horse riding skills with specialized stunt training and experience with weapons and combat can make you a valuable asset to any film or television production that requires horse riding stunts.

Industry Know-How

A horse leaping over a flaming obstacle with a rider in a daring stunt

Understanding the Film and Television Industry

To become a successful horse riding stunt double, it is essential to have a good understanding of the film and television industry. You need to know how the industry works, the key players, and their roles. Familiarize yourself with the different types of productions, such as feature films, television shows, and commercials.

It is also essential to understand the different departments on a film or television set, such as the camera, art, and sound departments. Understanding how each department contributes to the overall production will help you work more efficiently and effectively as a stunt double.

Networking and Building Contacts

Networking is a crucial aspect of becoming a horse riding stunt double. You need to build relationships with people in the industry, such as actors, stunt coordinators, and agents. Attend industry events like film festivals and conventions to meet people and make connections.

Having a professional online presence, such as a website or social media account, is also important to showcase your skills and experience. This can help you attract potential clients and collaborators.

Union Membership and Representation

Joining a union, such as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), can provide you with important benefits and protections as a horse riding stunt double. Union membership can help you secure better pay and working conditions and provide access to health and retirement benefits.

It is also important to have representation, such as an agent or manager, to help you find work and negotiate contracts. A good agent can help you navigate the industry and find opportunities that are a good fit for your skills and experience.

Building Experience

A horse leaps over a flaming obstacle, its mane and tail flying, as a rider performs a daring stunt, showcasing skill and fearlessness

As a horse riding stunt double, building experience is crucial to success in the industry. Here are some ways you can gain experience and improve your skills.

Working as an Extra

One way to gain experience in the film industry is by working as an extra. This can allow you to observe and learn from experienced stunt doubles and coordinators. It can also help you make connections and get your foot in the door for future opportunities.

Project Casting and Auditions

Keep an eye out for project casting calls and auditions for stunt doubles. This can be a great way to get your name out there and showcase your skills. Make sure to create a strong resume and demo reel to present to casting directors.

Mentorship and Apprenticeship

Consider seeking out a mentor or apprenticeship with an experienced stunt double. This can provide valuable one-on-one training and guidance. Look for opportunities to shadow and assist your mentor on set to gain hands-on experience.

Remember, building experience takes time and dedication. Keep practicing and honing your skills, stay up-to-date on industry trends and safety protocols, and continue to network and make connections. With hard work and persistence, you can become a successful horse riding stunt double in the film industry.

Career Advancement

A horse leaps over a flaming obstacle as the stunt double confidently guides it through the air, showcasing skill and bravery

As a horse riding stunt double, you have the opportunity to advance your career by joining a stunt team, specializing in high-demand skills, and staying current with training.

Joining a Stunt Team

One way to advance your horse riding stunt double career is to join a stunt team. Stunt teams are professionals working together to create and perform stunts for movies, TV shows, and other productions.

Joining a stunt team can give you more opportunities to work on bigger productions and gain more experience.

Specializing in High-Demand Skills

Another way to advance your career is to specialize in high-demand skills. As a horse riding stunt double, you may want to consider specializing in skills such as high fall, stunt driving, or fire burns. Becoming an expert in these areas can increase your value to production and potentially earn more money.

Staying Current with Training

Finally, staying current with training is important to advance your career. This means taking classes and workshops to learn new skills and practicing and refining your existing skills.

By staying current with training, you can ensure that you are always at the top of your game and ready to take on new challenges in your career as a horse riding stunt double.

Maintaining Your Career

A horse jumps over a flaming obstacle, with a rider standing on its back, holding onto the reins. The audience watches in awe as the stunt double showcases their skill and bravery

As a horse riding stunt double, it is important to land jobs and maintain a long and successful career.

Here are some tips on how to do so:

Health and Fitness

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for any stunt performer, especially for horse riding stunt doubles. You need to have a strong core, good balance, and endurance to perform your stunts. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you achieve this. Consider working with a personal trainer to develop a fitness plan tailored to your needs as a stunt double.

Continued Learning and Practice

Continued learning and practice are essential for staying relevant in the industry. Attend workshops and classes to learn new techniques and hone your skills.

Practice regularly to maintain your proficiency in horse riding and stunts. You can also work with a mentor to gain valuable insights and advice.

Navigating the Job Market

The horse riding stunt doubles the job market, which can be competitive, so it is important to stay current on industry trends and job opportunities. Network with other stunt performers and industry professionals to stay informed.

Consider joining a professional organization, such as the Screen Actors Guild, to gain access to job listings and other resources.

Remember that being a horse riding stunt double can be demanding, with long hours and physical challenges. Take care of yourself both physically and mentally to ensure a long and successful career in the industry.

A figure signing legal documents while studying financial papers, with a horse and stunt equipment in the background

Understanding Contracts

As a horse riding stunt double, it is important to understand the legal aspects of your work. Contracts are essential to ensure that you are protected and paid fairly for your work. Before signing any contract, make sure you understand the terms and conditions. If you are unsure about anything, seek legal advice.

Contracts should include details such as the project duration, your role, your rate of pay, and any additional benefits such as residuals. It is also important to ensure that the contract includes provisions for safety, such as the use of protective gear and safe working conditions.

Insurance and Injuries

Stunt work can be dangerous, and injuries can occur. It is important to have adequate insurance coverage to protect yourself in case of injury. Ensure you understand what your insurance covers and does not cover. If you are injured on the job, report the injury immediately and seek medical attention.

Union membership can provide additional benefits such as access to health insurance and workers’ compensation. Consider joining a union to ensure you are protected and have access to these benefits.

Financial Planning for Stunt Performers

As a freelance stunt performer, planning for your financial future is important. Stunt work can be unpredictable, and it is important to have a financial cushion in case of periods of unemployment. Consider setting aside a portion of your income for savings and investments.

Residuals can also provide a source of income after the initial project has ended. Ensure you understand any residual payments’ terms and how they are calculated.

In conclusion, understanding the legal and financial aspects of being a horse riding stunt double is crucial for your success and safety. Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage, understand your contracts, and plan for your financial future.

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