By Becca Husselbee
The last surviving Black Beauty to star in the 1994 film adaption is about to turn 30 after receiving an award naming him Britain’s best loved horse actor.
Billy Blindaj, who will turn 30 in August, was one of five black horses to star in the 1994 film adaption of Anne Sewell’s classic novel and was recently awarded the plaque naming him Britain’s best loved horse actor by the pet sitting company, Trusted House sitters.
Known as Billy to his stable friends, he started life in Russia as harness race horse and was imported into the UK at just three years old to play the part of Black Beauty – meeting his now owner Louise Maryon, 42, on set where she worked as a groom.
Louise gave the star of the big screen a forever home after he appeared in several of the film’s big scenes, as well as being ridden by Sean Bean.
Now he attracts many visitors to his home in Llandysul, South Wales, as well as having a huge social media following.
Louise said: “He knows he is famous and he loves the attention.
“We took him the the Arab Horse Society show when he was 25-years-old and he was mobbed by people who came to see him.
“He did a few other acting parts aside from the film, but he appears mostly throughout and was ridden by Sean Bean as well as filming one of the most iconic scenes of the barn catching fire.
“He was taught tricks by the horses masters on set and was taught to strike the wall in the fire scene when he heard air being released from the pipe.
“It’s been a long time since he has done any of his tricks but he still remembers them, he can’t do the more strenuous ones now but he is actually doing pretty well in his old age.
“He has a little bit of arthritis but generally he is in good health.”
Billy, born in 1989, appeared next to famous co-stars such as Jim Carter during the ‘fire in the barn’ scene as well as David Thewlis who went on to appear in the Harry Potter films and Game of Thrones actor, Sean Bean, who rode Billy during ‘Black Beauty’s training’ scenes.
After Louise fell in love with Billy while caring for him on set, he went to live with her and her partner, Bruce, who she also met whilst working on the set, at their home in Berkshire, before eventually moving to South Wales.
There he was partnered with his five-year-old pony companion, Richie, who he now spends his retirement years with while his adoring fans visit to be pictured with the best loved horse actor.
Louise said: “Like human actors, horses have doubles too, so Billy was used for a lot of the action parts.
“He was taught to rear on command, come to call, look left and right, say yes and now and also count with his feet.
“He has always been a very stoic horse, nothing phases him.
“He went on to feature in a couple of adverts before leading a happy life with me doing a bit competing.
“He loves having visitors and still reacts to the camera.”
Billy received his special award in October last year as part of the first plaque scheme dedicated to animals who have proved to be inspirational throughout their lifetime, and is now the last surviving horse to star in the film.
Louise said: “He is very spoilt and it’s just him left now.
“He is kept warm with rugs and boots and has special supplements to keep him healthy.
“People love him so much because the film became a part of their childhood and it’s very heartwarming to have a him here with us still.”