Wrangler Takes 'The California Mission Ride'

Troy van Gorder recently returned from west coast, where he took part in the filming of documentary that took a group of people, and their horses, through the missions of California.

Troy van Gorder recently returned from California, where he spent nearly two months working on a documentary that sent a team of riders and filmmakers on horses 600 miles, from Sonoma, CA, to the Mexican border. Along the way, this team of riders visited and documented 21 missions.

van Gorder's role was as horse wrangler, responsible for the welfare of the horses—their care, feeding and first aid.

The California Mission Ride is chronicled on the website as well as the film's Facebook page.

van Gorder, "rider and wrangler," lived in Northborough for the past four years (moving from Hudson) and has been riding and jumping horses for more than 30 years in the US, UK and Germany. 

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He says the documentary is on the history of the founding of the 21 California missions, and how it impacted the native populations  from inception to present. It includes interviews with historians, archaeologists, Native Americans and missionaries.

Teaching horseback riding to one of the writers of the film in Cambridge, and she told van Gorder she wanted to "improve her odds of surviving an arduous 30 day horseback journey in all sorts of difficult terrain and conditions."

So in May, Gwyneth Horder-Payton came to van Gorder for a crash course.

"I even had her doing sword work on horseback," said van Gorder. "At the beginning of August she mentioned to me that one of their two original horse wranglers had to have emergency back surgery and they needed to replace her. So I had two weeks notice."

Billy Waters, a former resident of Northborough and a 2008 ARHS graduate, also joined the ride, working as an intern acting as assistant director and camera man. 

"He also chased runaway ponies and mules," his mom told Patch. "He appears on the team portion of the website and in the facebook photos. Billy and Troy didn’t know each other before the ride and only figured out along the way that our houses are very near each other in Northborough. Billy is now living in Los Angeles, pursuing a career in television and film, and that was how he got involved."

The footage from the trip will be made into a documentary to be used in California schools.

Gail Harris October 05, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Troy is a FANTASTIC rider, trainer and wrangler. He has worked with my horse Nickie and I at my farm in Westborough. I was so happy to hear that he was asked to participate in THE CALIFORNIA MISSION RIDE and followed the ride on Facebook. He does wonderful work with his students in Holden at the V. Garre Stables and I look forward to hearing more about his California experience from him and on his website troyvangorder.com


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