Lauren Molyneux chats with Jane Coar to find out more about her work with horses and her involvement with hit TV series, Game of Thrones
Jane Coar’s love of horses and enjoyment of the outdoors has drawn her into an exciting new profession. After becoming involved with The Devil’s Horsemen, the leading company for supplying horses within the film industry, Jane’s work now takes her all over the world.
She recently worked in Belfast on the most recent Game of Thrones series – an epic production that saw scenes featuring hundreds of horses, many of which Jane had cared for and trained.
Originally from Longridge, Jane has worked in West Palm Beach, Florida, near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and more recently in Spain.
Jane, the work you do sounds like a dream job for horse lovers! How did all this start?
“I suppose it all started for me when I was very young. My love of horses really developed when I was a small child. I have an agricultural background. My dad is a beef and dairy farmer and I grew up on a farm in Grimsargh so was surrounded by animals all the time, but horses were always my favourite! I was given my first pony when I was eight and soon became a fan of riding after joining some of the local pony clubs.
“Despite my love of horses, I didn’t actually properly consider a career working with them when I was younger. When I went to college I had aspirations to become a physiotherapist, so I completed a BTEC National Diploma in Sports Development and Fitness. It was only when I left college and went back to working on the farm that I realised how much I enjoyed being outside all the time and working with the animals.”
What was the first step you took into building a new career for yourself?
“I initially got involved in working with horses when I took up a job as a groom for showjumping horses. It was a really exciting role that took me to lots of different places. I would prepare the horses for shows – keep them fed and watered, maintain their stables and living spaces, take care of their hair and coats and all the equipment the riders would be working with. I travelled up to Penrith with the job and across to Spain. I even lived in the US for a short time – in West Palm Beach, Florida, which was lovely. I also spent some time on a farm in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. I loved it there and got a new understanding of what people mean by ‘the wilderness’! There is no other landscape like it.
“I ended up leaving that job after a while as the travelling was keeping me away from my family, so I moved back to the UK.”
And now you are working with The Devil’s Horsemen!
“Yes, I initially began working with them last year and took the role to gain some more experience. They provide so many different services within the film industry, not only supplying horses but also carriages, tack, riders and horse-masters for films, television programmes and photoshoots all over the world, so I thought it would be great to work with them to gain some more varied experience and get a new insight into the industry.
“There is still travel involved with this job, which is great because, although the working days are really long and the work itself is exhausting, it’s still a little break away from the everyday for me and I really enjoy that. I’m usually only away for a few weeks at a time, and whilst I’m away I get to meet new people, learn more about the industry and look after horses, so it is like a dream job!”
One of the biggest projects you have worked on has been Game of Thrones, which is one of the most popular series on television. What was that experience like?
“It has been an amazing experience. I honestly thoroughly enjoy working on shows like that. I don’t think I ever properly realised how much time and money and manpower goes into creating programmes like Game of Thrones. There are so many people involved and it’s really interesting to see how things look whilst they’re being filmed, because sometimes it looks so much different to what we see on screen.
“My role involved taking care of the horses and travelling with them whenever we were shooting on location. You always have to be there on-hand in case you are needed, and you have to prepare each horse ready for the scenes and sometimes there is quite a lot of pressure. The days are really long because, especially for a production like this, we had to work with the weather and the natural light we were getting, so it meant early-morning and late-night shooting, sometimes getting up and starting at three or four o’clock in the morning and not finishing until around eight or nine o’clock at night. Some of the night shoots I went on were freezing as well!
“It really opened my eyes to some things that I would never have really considered before. Sometimes a clip that is only on screen for 20 seconds would take all day to film because they would have to film actors, including the main characters Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Khaleesi (Emilia Clarke), and the stunt riders at separate times for the same clip, trying to match the actions up so that they would maintain continuity. I remember the charge scenes with the Dothraki being particularly challenging, because there are just so many horses! It is a really long process.”
Wow, it sounds like hard work!
“Oh, it definitely is! It’s not all as glitz and glam as people might think, but I do love it because it’s so interesting. Obviously I was involved in showjumping and competitions in the past, but I have always known there are so many things that you can do with horses and I’ve never seen this side of things. And the people I work with are always a really nice group. We all have a good time, and despite the fact we may have been working for 18 hours in the freezing cold, no one ever complains about being tired. We all get together at the end of the day and support each other, have a laugh, get some sleep and then head out before sunrise the next morning to do it all again!
“I’m really happy with the balance I have now between my home life and my work life, and ultimately I can say that I have seen a lot of things and been to a lot of places!”