William Peterson Snuck His Favorite Horse Onto The Set Of Young Guns II

Most actors just make up the fact that they can ride a horse during the audition process for a Western. The skills section on an acting resumé is generally considered to be widely exaggerated. For William Peterson, who was mostly known as a streetwise detective in Michael Mann’s “Manhunter,” it was important to find a horse that he actually felt comfortable with when he landed the role of Pat Garrett and suddenly found himself on the harsh, open plains of Arizona and New Mexico. 

During filming, each horse had a double that was also used, but Peterson could tell the two apart and took a real liking to one horse in particular. NBC5 reporter Bobbie Wygant’s incredibly vast archive of vintage interviews features a conversation with Peterson, who talked about how he kept trying to get his favorite stallion in the shot: 

“They’d bring the horse to me and I had to do this whole thing with this horse to figure out which horse it was. I actually knew, and then I would try and sneak the other horse out of the corral and saddle him up and get on him before the wranglers knew that I had the other horse, because I liked him so much.”

Peterson claims his horse made it into a lot of the finished film, becoming “a little movie star.” Interestingly, actor James Coburn — who played Pat Garrett in Sam Peckinpah’s “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” opposite Kris Kristofferson — plays a rich cattle owner named John Chisum in “Young Guns II.” Williamson also mentions that he spoke to Coburn at length about both of their takes on the real-life lawman. 

If “Young Guns III” ever happens, maybe Peterson can return in some capacity. At least bring Bon Jovi back!

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