Local horse debuting in Sony film come January 10
PRINCETON – The biggest movie star to hail from Princeton was happy Christmas week living it up on a couch in a heated garage and feasting on grass hay, a little oatmeal and handfuls of Cap’n Crunch cereal when she’s been a good girl. She likes cookies, Cheerios and potato chips, and has even been known to steal a slice of pizza and a pan of her favorite dinner – lasagna.
Her name is Apple the Movie Horse, a 26-inch chestnut and white Falabella miniature horse who loves to perform tricks and flash you a big smile. She is owned and trained by Ashley Klein, who was born in Milaca, raised in Isle and now calls Princeton home.
Apple, who resides in Princeton, is the star of the Sony Pictures movie “Apple of My Eye,” which will be released Jan. 10, 2017.
She stars with Burt Reynolds, Amy Smart, Liam Mcintyre and A.J. Michalka in a heart-warming story about a young girl who lost her sight, but found her way through her relationship with Apple. The movie’s synopsis reads: “A young girl struggles after a traumatic horse riding accident causes her to lose her eyesight. Charles (played by Burt Reynolds), the head trainer of Southeastern Guide Dogs, trains Apple, a miniature horse, to be her companion and surrogate eyes.” The trailer for the movie earned Apple and its producers the top award for best movie trailer at the November EQUUS Film Festival, the horse industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. But it wasn’t an Oscar that the trailer was awarded, it was EQUUS’ award, the Winnie.
Apple is adapting too well to being a star, trainer Ashley Klein said.
“She’s a diva,” Klein said.
“She’s got a big attitude for a little horse,” she said.
She can also be a handful, Klein said. Apple is like a 3-year-old child – but a horse, she said. And in a way that some cat owners describe their pets as being kings or queens of the castle, Apple rules her home.
“It’s her house,” Klein said.
Apple gets out regularly and rides from place to place in a blue Volkswagen Beetle with a “My Little Pony” on the dashboard. She has a matching blue harness.
In New York at the EQUUS Film Festival, Apple attracted a lot of attention because people at first thought she was a dog or donkey, and not a horse, Klein said.
Apple, who likes to take naps in the house, was 14 inches tall when she was born. Now 2 years old, Apple is 26 inches tall and weighs about 90 pounds.
Klein got Apple when the horse was 5 months old. Producers of “Apple of My Eye” contacted Klein in search of a horse for the film.
The script of the movie was written just for the horse, Klein said.
With the search on, Klein says she knew of just three breeders in the United States that bred Falabellas. Two of them had no horses available, Klein said.
She found Apple outside of Chicago and brought her home to begin training. Apple started filming “Apple of My Eye” when she was about a year old, she said.
Klein was on the set in Florida with Apple for 18 days of filming. The horse stayed in a house while filming.
The cast immediately took to Apple, the namesake of the movie, Klein said.
“Amy Smart, she adored her,” she said.
“Burt Reynolds shared his couch with her,” Klein said.
And Liam Mcintyre (who played Spartacus in the Starz TV series) carried Apple off for a few scenes.
“That’s not something you see every day,” she said.
As a matter of fact, Apple was such a hit on the set that there are a few things in the film that were added just for her during filming, Klein said.
Apple has been home since early summer adjusting to life away from the camera. Relaxing has been a good thing for Apple, Klein said. She has also been spending time with other mini horses at the Princeton farm.
Apple has been learning how to play the piano and lessons on the bass drum are on the horizon.
But her career will be on the upswing soon, Klein predicts.
“Apple goes to children’s hospitals and nursing homes where she has an opportunity to brighten some lives,” Klein said.
As for her movie career?
“There have been a couple pitches out there,” Klein said.