Was the shot horse a real horse in The Revenant?

In the beginning scenes, when the men are running heading for the boat, a quick clip shows a barely clothed man come out of a tent or some type of structure. He aims a gun and SHOOTS a horse. He turns and wobbles back into the covering.

It didn't make sense and the horse more than I can stress was a real living horse. My question is just that. WAS THAT A REAL HORSE?

AND it puzzles me why nobody cares or asks about this horse. Everyone asks about the bear, and, that's obvious. Everyone has something to say about the fish and of course the scene regarding the horse going over the cliff with DiCaprio, but, no one mentions this horse for that matter no one mentions the moose that they shot at the very beginning of the film. THE HORSE. Was the horse real?

  • 24
    Okay...are you asking if filmmakers shot and killed an actual live horse for filming a movie? Jan 15, 2017 at 19:16
  • 17
    Very likely it was a trained stunt horse. They've been used in films before. They're trained to rear and fall over, as if killed. All you have to do is use a gun loaded with blanks, get the stunt horse to do its thing on cue, and you're set. The horse was probably real. No, they did not really shoot it.
    – Tim
    Jan 15, 2017 at 19:27
  • 2
    Related: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/49445/…
    – Möoz
    Jan 15, 2017 at 21:11
  • Slightly related: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/60466/…
    – AndreKR
    Jan 16, 2017 at 11:12
  • 1
    @steelersquirrel probably more than once too, to get the "shot" right!
    – insanity
    Jan 16, 2017 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


Almost certainly...NOT.

Firstly, no production company would even consider such a thing..the backlash from animal rights groups could kill any movie and that's not economically sensible.

There are really two options:

A Stunt Horse

Horses have trained to fall on command for decades in movies. This would be a highly specialised stunt fall but it's possible...indeed this is the most likely option but not the only one.

enter image description here

A Special Effect.

A 'large' animatronic / puppet or even a CGI horse is also possible.

Movie puppets and special effects are remarkable these days.

There's even a special credit for it in the closing credits.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Or possibly a combination of the two - stunt horse with CGI manipulation.
    – Wossname
    Jan 15, 2017 at 23:26
  • 10
    It's pretty clear to me that CGI was involved, it is too quick a motion of the head. They did serious animal CGI in this movie, so it makes sense to do one more shot (heh).
    – rob
    Jan 15, 2017 at 23:40
  • 5
    It seems very unrealistic that the other two horses don't even flinch.
    – joe snyder
    Jan 16, 2017 at 18:10
  • @joesnyder: Stunt horses are more likely not to flinch. Not saying they never will, just that they're less likely to
    – Flater
    Jan 10, 2020 at 22:35

Most likely not:

The Telegraph ran a piece about what was and was not faked when shooting The Revenant. Mainly because to the uninformed it appears as though an awful lot of animal abuse is going on behind – and indeed in – the scenes. What with the thousands of pelts hoarded by the fur trapper protagonists, plus the horses being whipped and thwacked and knocked over all over the place, it looks like some kind of post-apocalyptic Cirque De Sadism. Much of these goings on weren’t real, as the article informs us that CGI and prosthetics were used wherever possible, and all of the animal skins were either replicated or were genuine but date back a while (i.e pre-existing, not produced for this film).

Do note that the article in The Telegraph doesn't address the case of the horse being shot, though it does point out:

Good news for horse fans; bad news for fans of unusual sleeping bags – despite various reports to the contrary, Leo didn’t really climb inside a dead horse while filming The Revenant. (In the film, his character guts the corpse, before using it to keep warm during a storm.)


He also revealed that no horses were thrown off cliffs during the shoot: a separate prop was used for the scene in which Glass and his steed plummet off a cliff together.

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