Former owner watches horse star in 'The Lone Ranger'

Sitting in the theater on opening night of the film "The Lone Ranger," Amber Bauman knew she'd get emotional.

Up there on the screen was one of her babies. A 5-year-old, all-white thoroughbred horse named Phoebe that she'd sold to Hollywood.  

Phoebe became one of five similar horses to play the starring role of Silver in the film, released late last month and starring Johnny Depp. 

Bauman had no idea when Phoebe's actual scenes would appear in the film, but like any mother, she spotted her child immediately. 

"You never really forget," Bauman said. "I instantly knew it was Phoebe. ...

"She had her signature tail swish."

Pheobe swishes her tail when she gets a bit annoyed, when she's hoping for a bigger challenge, said Bauman, owner of Valley View Acres in Woodstock. She imagines the jumps weren't big enough for her, though special effects made them look big in the film.

Bauman, her family and friends filled the Woodstock theater to watch Phoebe's film debut. After the film, it is believed the horse was taken to Megson Farms in Kentucky to semi-retire, unless another role comes along.

"Once they're sold, they're kind of out of my control," Bauman said. "I don't get to keep in touch anymore." 

That doesn't mean she hasn't thought about and missed Phoebe, the horse she says was a true mate. She bred the horse, raised and trained her from birth, and still owns one of Phoebe's siblings, Shikago. 

"We just fit together, completely fit together," she said of Phoebe. 

"You prepare your students to go off the best you can. Even though you're sad to watch them graduate, you have to be happy for them," she said. "That's kind of how I felt about Phoebe. I was sad because I wanted to keep her for me."

Letting the roughly 1,200-pound horse go was a decision made after Silver Bullet Productions, part of the Walt Disney Co., offered to buy her. All-white thoroughbreds like her are rare, with Phoebe being the first in Illinois. 

A friend of Bauman's had seen a Disney advertisement seeking all-white thoroughbreds and sent in Bauman's name. Bauman didn't really believe the initial call from a wrangler who worked with production companies.

She Googled the name, found out it was all legitimate and eventually decided to sell.

When the film's premiere rolled around, she said, "It was one of those things where it opened up emotions. I was happy it was done. I told my 9-year-old daughter, just don't worry if I you see mommy crying because I'm glad it's done. It's over with. We've moved on. Back to work."

At her farm, Bauman has horse camps, training, lessons and 35 horses to take care of, some hers, some boarded. 

The animals are her passion.

"I love that my family gets to grow up on a 20-acre horse farm," she said. "For them to have this, it's kind of like every little girl's dream coming true, which is fun for all of us here."

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