Late last year, Raelin Schenck was ankle-deep in mud at a horse show, miserably debating the best way to retrieve her sodden truck and trailer during a downpour, when she received an unexpected text.
One of her boarders informed her that the crew from the popular television show, NCIS: New Orleans, was looking for a white horse to be in the background of a scene and wondered if she had any ideas. Turns out, Raelin had the perfect horse in mind.
Raelin owns Blackwing Connemaras, a breeding facility in Waldheim, Louisiana, where she and her family keep their purebred ponies, which include the 11-year-old, 14.3-hand stallion Wildwych Wily Casanova (“Sly”) and his son, Blue Rock Fintan. “I thought about it for a minute, as I always do when debating trying something new with one of my stallions,” says Raelin, who mainly competes in jumper shows with her ponies. “But honestly, Sly is very well behaved in all types of situations. I felt that he would be just fine to stand in a stable as background, if by some chance they chose him.”
Raelin texted over some photos of Sly for the crew to check out, and put it out of her mind, concentrating instead of her busy weekend at the show. A week later, she was surprised to get the news that Sly had indeed been chosen for the part.
David and Karen Milliken, the animal coordinators/handlers for NCIS: New Orleans, got in touch with Raelin to set up the details. “They train and handle all sorts of animals (not just the furry, cuddly types!) and are also the animal advocates on location. They do education programs for schools, summer camps and also teach children about Louisiana’s native and invasive animal species.”
“The Millikens made the whole experience of taking a stallion to a new place and new environment simple and easy,” she adds.
Once all the details had been finalized, it was time for lights, camera, action for Sly. “During the filming, Sly stood tied to the outside of a stall in the middle of an aisle way, perpendicular to the stall and was groomed by the show’s villain before he was confronted by the good guy,” says Raelin. “Because everyone around him was calm and confident, Sly settled immediately and did not react to anything moving around him or over him.”
“We gave him breaks by allowing him to rest inside the stall and eat some hay and have some treats. Mostly he liked the fact that he got brushed and pampered multiple times. It wouldn’t surprise me if he thought the entire operation was built just to provide him with a day’s worth of attention and snacks.”
Could we see Sly back on primetime television one day? “The experience was fun and interesting,” says Raelin. “Sly was completely content, calm, and happy to be in the middle of all of it. He loves humans and would always choose to be around them. He’s a confident boy and everywhere I take him, whether it be his first time galloping around a cross-country course or his first time being on a film set, he’s happy to behave as a gentleman. He didn’t get nervous or antsy, so, yes, I would do it again.”
Four Tidbits About Sly
1. After being imported in-utero from the UK, he spent his early years exclusively as a breeding stallion in Colorado at Wildwych Connemaras, in Indiana at Blue Rock Connemaras and in New York at Avelene Connemaras. At 7.5 years old, he took the long trip down to Southeast Louisiana and Blackwing Connemaras. “His immediate reaction on arrival was, ‘Wait! What? They have grass in February?’ I don’t think he picked his head up for two weeks,” says Raelin.
2. Most of Sly’s time is spent grazing and sleeping. He is ridden almost daily and loves being pampered. “The more attention, the better, please,” laughs Raelin. “He calmly stands for most of the insane things his humans do with the exception of clipping his ears as no one has yet to give him an adequate explanation as to WHY ears should be clipped.”
3. He lives to please his humans and he is kind and gentle with all ages. “He’s given pony rides to tiny munchkins, is ridden around show grounds with a halter and lead rope, is shown and handled by juniors on a daily basis, has been dressed up for costume classes, and been ridden in bareback games, just to name a few.”
4. Sly competes regularly in the local jumper circuit. “He’s currently showing in the 1.0m and 1.10m jumpers and recently attended his first dressage clinics, which he loved.”
You can watch the episode here on CBS.com.