Robert Duvall Mourns ‘Redman’

The longtime celebrity equestrian said goodbye to a dear friend on May 29.

“Mighty Redman, we will miss you, friend,” the actor wrote on Facebook.

He also noted that “the almost 40-year-old” helped him prepare for many roles over the years. True Grit, Seven Days in Utopia, Open Range, Something to Talk About, A Night in Old Mexico, Wild Horses, and the iconic Lonesome Dove are just a few of Duvall’s horseback roles, so Redman left a lasting mark on Hollywood, if only from behind the scenes.

Duvall was first introduced to horses at his uncle’s ranch in Montana. When interviewed by the authors of People We Know, Horses They Love, Duvall stated, “That experience gave me the riding foundation to play in all the westerns I’ve done over the years.”

To prepare for his first riding role in the 1963 TV series Stoney Burke, Duvall went to a rental stable in the Bronx to learn how to properly sit a horse. Later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he went to the Pickwick Riding Stables, now renamed LA Equestrian Center, where he began to ride English. He trained every day for two years before landing the part in True Grit (1969).

Lonesome Dove (1989)

In 1988, Duvall landed the role of a lifetime, Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove. To prepare for the extensive horseback riding scenes, Duvall began training with American showjumper Rodney Jenkins. His main mount for the movie was a race-bred Quarter Horse.

He remembers, “I was on one horse that started to buck like crazy when squibs (blanks) were fired, and the director actually used that footage in the movie. I was really in shape during that time and was riding pretty well.”

Outside the western genre, Duvall learned how to jump for his role in Something to Talk About. Grand Prix showjumper Aaron Vale was his double for the movie. Duvall bought one of the horses, Willy, after filming wrapped, and his wife competed with him in hunters.

Duvall recounts, “[Aaron Vale] jumped the whole course in the movie with one hand on the reins and the other one holding a handheld camera.”

Something To Talk About (1995)

Duvall stepped back into western stirrups for his role opposite Kevin Costner in Open Range, a role that he states was “a trail boss who was right up there with Augustus McCrae.” He began filming the movie in Canada with six broken ribs, toughing out the injuries to drive horses up a hill at a canter. He said, “Fifteen years ago, I would have done that scene in my sleep, and it would not have been at all challenging, so it felt particularly rewarding to be able to do that again.”

Duvall and his wife, Luciana (a horse lover who competed in her native Argentina before moving to the USA), own a 1743 farmhouse in Middleburg, Va., where he enjoys watching local foxhunting. Neighbors have included Rodney Jenkins, Katie Monahan Prudent, and David O’Conner, just to name a few. TODAY correspondent Jill Rappaport toured the 360-acre gentleman’s farm in 2012. Duvall’s horse, Manu, was training with Jesus Morales during the interview.

Duvall once stated, “When you get on a horse and go nice and easy across country, it makes you feel really good; it definitely does.”

Rest easy, Redman.

Wild Horses (2015)

Go riding.

Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_uechi_ronan.