Casting Billy And Blaze
What color is Blaze?
Many accept the chestnut color Aladdin Publishing used for the cover in 1964. Fortunately, on page six of the little picture book, C. W. Anderson was very specific. He wrote, “And there stood a beautiful bay pony with four white feet and a white nose.”
There are many shades of bay, and the make-up trailer can help with missing socks, but there must be that special something to endear his audience and become a star-to-be loved and shared by a multitude for many years to come.
Looking For Blaze
Bay is a hair coat color of horses, characterized by a reddish-brown body color with a black mane, tail, ear edges, and lower legs. Bay is one of the most common coat colors in many horse breeds.
Finding Blaze took many interviews and much soul-searching. We've gone through a couple of wonderful ponies that could have been Blaze, but for one reason or another, either the time was not right or there just wasn't that certitude that we were making the right choice.
With Banbury Cross Abu we found the perfect pony for the part. His confirmation and look were compelling on our initial visit to Glendevon Farm. But it was his attitude and sparkle that shouted 'star quality' in every task we asked him to perform.
In addition, Leslie Deering of Glendevon Farm had a very sweet work horse that fit the script for Pumpkin - the 'any chance to ride' horse with whom Billy is good friends.
The video below shows young Jack Leannarda showing us Banbury Cross Abu's paces. This was the first time we had seen him. So many times since, when the camera was rolling or just on set, seeing Henry Lesko on 'Abu was a shock. There was Billy & Blaze, right there, in front of us...!