I remember with great affection the people who have helped me achieve this gargantuon of tasks. One of these ladies is Jay felton,she helped me translate the very first script from the series, between us we managed to complete 3 episodes and later on other friends began helping. Jerry Lancaster was superbly accurate with his scripts and for remembering the original wording used in the English dubbings, however Jay was very clever in creating a warm feel good factor in her writings. Below is the very first correspondence i had from her. She was relying purely on her memories of the series at this stage, however these proved to be very accurate on reflection.
All the 13 scripts are now available to view further down this blog by clicking the windows live link.
THE WHITE HORSES
A memoir by Jay Felton
“History is not what you think. It is what you can remember.”
Prepare to be bored while I burble on about this ancient TV series.
This is one of the very best horse series I grew up watching in the 1960s. I can’t give an exact date because the BBC repeated it a few times and, well, you don’t take that much note of dates when you’re about 10, do you? The English title is THE WHITE HORSES, the German title, which appeared on the screen at the beginning of the English-dubbed version, is FERIEN IN LIPIZZA (literally ‘Holiday in Lipizza’). I have some reason to believe the actual country of origin was Slovenia (the old Yugoslavia) but even if I knew what it was called in Slovenian I probably wouldn’t be able to spell it…. The basic premise is that this sickeningly lucky girl, Julia, goes to stay for a holiday with her uncle, who just happens to run the stud at Lipizza, and she has various adventures involving the horses to a greater or lesser degree. I am quite sure the horses used in the series were all Lipizzaners (except possibly ‘extras’ pulling carts in the background or similar), and all very fine – but of course I was only 10! The main characters were all very likeable, and while the occasional episode might have had silly plot elements I think that on the whole the stories would stand the test of time better than, say, CHAMPION or BLACK BEAUTY.
The characters, in rough order of importance:
Julia – blonde, in her mid to late teens (probably). Quite headstrong, sometimes acting impulsively and therefore getting into trouble, but also imaginative and capable of taking charge and resolving problems despite her youth. A good rider, as well, making her rather a progressive heroine for that time.
Boris – Julia’s favourite saddle horse, a handsome white stallion (for the sake of romance I will assume all the male horses were stallions; obviously it being a children’s show they wouldn’t have gone into detail on this point….) whom she usually involves in her escapades. A TV review of the ‘Top 100 Children’s Programmes’ included a clip of Boris, tacked up but riderless, galloping across the countryside and into a farm or village, presumably to rescue someone/get help/ etc. You know, the heroic stuff they have horses do….
Uncle Dimitri – in charge of the Lipizza stud (NB: it was always pronounced ‘Lipi-jay’ in the English version. Perhaps this is the authentic Slovak pronunciation?) A handsome man with light brown/dark blond hair and the bearing of a classical horseman, as well as running the stud farm he is an excellent dressage rider. He tries to rule his staff and Julia with a rod of iron, but his stern attitude doesn’t really fool her and she can usually twist him round her little finger. The stud people all know as well that his bark is much worse than his bite.
Hugo – head groom at Lipizza, a stocky, dark-haired man who acts as general assistant, henchman to Julia (usually against his better judgement), and comic relief.
Thaïs – dapple grey mare, guest star in one episode (see below)
Othello – dark bay stallion with a large white star, very handsome but wilful. Guest star in one episode (See below).
Andrei – I know there was a character with this name, because I named one of my model riders after him, but I can’t recall anything about him. Probably one of the stud’s grooms/riders.
Episode summaries: These are naturally pretty sketchy, it was a long time ago!
Black and white – Julia arrives at Lipizza. This is clearly not her first visit, as she and Boris already know each other well. No doubt some crisis promptly ensues to give the episode some drama….
Dangerous Depths – Julia decides to take Boris exploring in some nearby caverns (yes, I know… but he’s remarkably obliging about it!) where they promptly become lost/trapped and need rescuing. Not one of her better efforts.
Thaïs Becomes a Mother – Thaïs, wouldn’t you just know it, decides to foal in the middle of the night during a violent storm. The weather cuts off transport or the telephone or something, so when the mare gets into difficulties Julia and Boris have to go for the vet….
About Bajazzo For some reason I can’t now recall, the Lipizza herd all flee from their pasture into potentially dangerous country. The grooms ride out on bikes to try and bring them back, but in the end they are guided to safety when Julia releases Boris to lead them home (her reasoning is that the mares will follow Boris, and the male horses and foals of course will follow the mares). Lots of lovely footage of Boris and the herd galloping across the countryside….
Buried Treasure – When Julia meets a party of truffle-hunters in the woods, she hits on the idea of training Boris to sniff out the precious fungi as the dogs do. She does this by feeding him on the stuff (and yes, he ate it, but of course we don’t know what the actress was really giving the horse!) I can’t remember what this led to, but there, I said the plots didn’t always make sense….
The Sava Prize – Julia helps a young man who is taking part in a local riding competition (maybe part of the village fête? It had that kind of atmosphere). It’s a little like tent-pegging, except that the riders have to spear small rings suspended overhead from a string. He rides one of the white Lipizzaners in the competition (not sure now whether it was Boris or not) and presumably wins… There may be a plot thread involving his girlfriend, e.g. if he does well in the contest her parents will approve of him, but I could have made that up.
A Dog’s Life – A friend of Julia’s in the village is going through teenage rebellion, resenting that she has to help with the housework, etc. but isn’t allowed to go out (to a dance, I think) and have fun with the other youngsters. After a big row her parents confine her to her room, but she retaliates by chasing her dog – a fine black and tan Alsatian – from the house, then claiming he went berserk and must have rabies. Mass panic in the village, and the local police/guard are sent out with rifles, but Julia realises the other girl is lying to get attention. Now she must save the dog before he is hunted down and shot.
House Arrest For Othello – Uncle Dimitri is preparing for a fantastically important dressage competition, but while training the talented but difficult Othello he has a bad fall and injures his back. The doctor forbids him to ride, and reinforces the order by putting him in plaster from armpits to hips. But Dimitri has to compete, so he persuades Hugo to customise the cast with a carving knife, to allow the necessary freedom of movement for riding… He probably ended up winning; you know how these things go in books/TV.
That’s the limit of my memory, though I’m sure there were more than 8 episodes. They were made in black & white, not that it mattered because we didn’t have a colour TV at home until long after the series had stopped being shown.
As you might imagine, this series made a profound impression on a young horse-mad girl who had already learned about the Spanish Riding School and thought it and its horses were absolutely marvellous. At one point my model stud was based in Austria and bred Lipizzaners (ok, so they were Britains riding horses, but the only alternatives available at the time were Britains draft horses and Britains ponies!), two of whom were named Boris and Thaïs. The rest, I regret to say, had such authentic Lipizzaner names as Snowflake and Silver Cloud…. I don’t remember having an Othello, but maybe I’d decided to have only one stallion. Or only greys. Something like that.