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Where Hollywood Went For The Best Horses, Wranglers And Stuntmen.

By Kristine Sader, ReMIND Magazine

Due to the overwhelming popularity of Western movies and TV shows, Hollywood needed a constant supply of horses, wranglers and wagons. One of the go-to places was Hudkins Brothers Stables in California, where the stars learned to ride.

The Hudkins Brothers Stables sat on the old Providencia/Lasky movie ranch in the San Fernando Valley and were run by Ace “Nebraska Wildcat” Hudkins and his brothers Clyde, Art and Ode. The Hudkins horses were ridden by stars like James Cagney, John Wayne and Roy Rogers. In fact, Rogers actually purchased one of their star palomino horses, who became the famous Trigger in his movies.

Another storied horse from Hudkins Stables was a bay gelding named Hoot. It was common for horses to be rented out for an appearance with a wrangler, and sometimes a lasting relationship would form.

The 1959 episode of Lawman titled “The Friend” sparked actor Robert Fuller’s friendship with Hoot the horse and his wrangler, Rich Brehm. Fuller asked if he could take Hoot with him to the show Laramie, where he had been cast to play Jess Harper. Ace gave the OK as long as Brehm went along, too. No one but Fuller rode Hoot.

Brehm and Fuller became good friends and hunting buddies. Hoot lived at Brehm’s ranch until Laramie was over, with Fuller riding him on weekends at rodeos. When Fuller moved to Wagon Train, Brehm came along as a head wrangler. When Laramie ended, Hoot was about 20 years old and Fuller, wanting to buy him, approached Ace about purchasing the horse. Ace said Hoot was a valuable horse and Fuller would never have enough money. Fuller disagreed, and Ace said, “What are you gonna do with the horse?” Fuller replied, “I am going to jerk his shoes, float his teeth and turn him out on 800 acres of pasture.”

Hearing what Fuller planned for Hoot, Ace gave Fuller the horse outright. “That’s what a great man Ace Hudkins was,” Fuller said.

Other shows also used Hudkins horses, and the animals were considered trusted members of the cast. Cheyenne starred Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie, a man traveling the West and finding excitement wherever he went saddled on a horse named Brandy. “That horse was exceptional,” Walker once said. “Brandy made me look good.”

It’s impossible to have watched TV Westerns and not seen the work of a Hudkins horse, wrangler, stuntman or wagon. What an exciting time and an exciting family!

Kristine Sader is the author of “Ace Hudkins: Boxing With the Nebraska Wildcat,” available on Amazon.

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