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Rough Riders--Training

The challenge in raising and training our own version of the famed Roughriders in a made-for-TV film, was to create a turn of the century environment in which we could teach a unit of 50 actors and specially-selected extras to ride, shoot and soldier. We selected a site near Palestine, Texas on hot, dusty inactive cattle ranch and began to assemble assets for a three-week period of intense training.

In his role as Teddy Roosevelt, Tom Berenger would nominally command the unit while I served in the role of training officer as Col. Leonard Wood. We brought a Warriors Inc. cadre together including Freddie Joe Farnsworth, John Barnett, Jim Morse and Pablo Espinosa to serve as training NCOs. All had worked with Warriors Inc. earlier and proved their abilities in other training evolutions. Also aboard for training was former national rodeo champion Raleigh Wilson who served as our Saddler Sergeant. In what was later to become a sort of Warriors tradition, each of these Cadre NCOs wound up with speaking roles in the film.

We lived under canvas in the field and fully-immersed ourselves in the training environment to include cooking for ourselves, physical training in intense heat to improve stamina and many long-hours firing the 30-40 Krag cavalry carbine and .45 caliber Colt Peacemaker pistol. Every day when the bugle called 'Boots & Saddles' we put ourselves into the hands of veteran stockman Jack Lilly who provided horses, tack and expert instruction for our cavalry drills. It quickly became obvious to us that a cavalryman's priorities were his mount, his weapons and equipment and himself, in that order.

We learned a lot on this one. We shook out the Cadre, refined our training theories and proved that Warriors Inc. could do period military films using the same basic philosophies and methods we use for more modern stories.