“Horse Of Kings, Thief Of Hearts”: An Epic Journey Of The Carthusian Horse


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Title: Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts

Director: Mario Dirkx

Starring: Juan LLamas Perdigo
Mercedes Gonzalez Cort
Mauricio Soler Escobar
Luis Mahillo Garcia
Category: Movie / Documentary

Duration: 94 min

Language & Subtitles: English – Dutch – Spanish

Shooting locations: Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, USA,
and Austria.

Release Date: 11/20/15 New York
02/21/16: The Netherlands

Started: 2008-2015

Awards: Winner of “Best Equestrian Documentary Full International!” at the EQUUS Film Festival in NYC

Website: http://horseofkingsthemovie.comhttps://horselifestyle.tv

“They have such a heart and they are so generous. They will give you even what they don’t have, the will try give to you.” – Mercedes Gonzalez Cort


“Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts” is a film that will sweep you away into the stunning and historic lands of Spain that the Carthusian horse call home. An ancient breed that has taken center stage in legends and folklore, films and live performances,  these horses are truly, horses of kings. Gallop away into the history of these horses in Film Director Mario Dirkx’s film of epic proportions, Horse Of Kings, Thief Of Hearts.

“Winner of the Best International Documentary, Horse of Kings, is an ode to the gorgeous Carthusian Andalusian Horses.” – Equus Film Festival 2015


Mario Dirkx worked on “Thief Of Hearts” from 2008 to 2015, showcasing the breed’s roots, triumphs and future of the Spanish horse that people throughout the ages fought to keep pure. Mario  says he was inspired by his two  Carthusian horses to create this film about one of the last pure lines of Spanish horses.

“When a man mounts a Carthusian Horse, he imagines himself in heaven, without leaving
earth.” – Juan Llamas Perdigo

Set in the colorful, dreamlike landscape of Southern Spain, “Thief of Hearts” will take you into the old Carthusian monastery in Jerez de la Frontera,where the Carthusian horses have been pure bred by Carthusian monks for centuries, making this line of horses to be one of the purest.

Horse of Kings is the story of the Carthusian horse and gives you a view into the Andalusian culture. It’s not only a film for horse people and I hope that many people will see the film. The German broadcast company WDR and ARTE are broadcasting the film around the world games in Aachen this year. We hope to find many
other broadcast company around the world. The spanish horse earns it!-Mario Dirkx, Director


Joined by some of the experts of the Andalusian breed like Mercedes Conzalez Cort, Juan Llamas, people of the State stud and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, Mario’s quest to share this wonderfully versatile breed with the world continues.

While enjoying the journey this spectacular film takes you on, you will find the answers to your questions about the history of this horse of kings. Below is an excerpt for the beginning of this award winning documentary:

When I’m in my garden in the winter and the fields of the Dutch countryside, when a watery sun gently draws traces of light, I experience endless pleasure. Especially when my young Carthusian stallion, his coat still a soft grey colour, frolics happily through the snowy grass. Graceful as the snowflakes tumbling in the air. It is almost as if poetry flows from his playful trot, gallop and jump as he lets loose the inner joy bursting forth from his young heart.
My heart sings as he comes to me full of primitive high spirits to show me his loyalty
and friendship and involve me in his game before he sprints off again.

And this image fires my desire to learn more about this magnificent Spanish horse breed. It is a breed that has been portrayed so often in history. There are many, many stories about its noble character, fiery temperament and impressive appearance.

How and why did this breed come about? How did the bloodline of the Carthusian horse remain so pure? What role did the Carthusian monks in the Spanish Jerez de la Frontera play in its history? Is this Spanish breed threatened by all kinds of breeding programmes or is it that the pure Carthusian bloodline is nurtured and safeguarded?

My curiosity led me to set out for Spain. It is in Jerez de la Frontera, where the roots of my own young stallion begin, that I started my search for the answers to my questions.

In this search we visit the Feria and see the culture of Andalusia. We show the history of the Carhusian Horse, cattle herding, saddle making, War Horse and Show, Morphology, End of the Carthusion Monastery, Showtime with The Peraltas, Bullfighting & La Parrilla, Breeding Farm Hierro del Bocado, Jacobo Delgado Las Lumbreras, Sport Horse and the Future of the Carthusian breed…


Below is Film Director Mario Dirkx’s exclusive interview on #equinearthour on Twitter this past Sunday, May 29th. Go to @equinearthour on Twitter every Sunday, 4-5pm EST to interact with some of the world’s top equine artists from around the globe!

TFS: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What type of films do you like to do? 
MD: I love doing documentary films.

What started your interest in the Carthusian Horses? 

MD: That started in 2007. I met a family with a breeding farm of Carthusian horses in Belgium.


TFS: Do you ride and did grow up around horses? Does anyone else in your family like horses or make films?

MD: Yes I ride a little, filming takes a lot of time!
No, I am the only person in the family who is making films. My 2 sons are riding and my ex wife also.

TFS: How did you chose the music for the different scenes? A lot of it seems to fit so perfectly for the film.

MD: The music is created for the movie by my good friends Gino & Jiri Taihuttu. So it was composed for the movie!

TFS: Did you ride any of the horses that were on set?
MD: Yes, a few, but mostly I was behind the camera. Shooting the pictures was fantastic! The picture for the film poster was done be photographer Hugo Thomassen, And I did the ground work with “Generoso”!
What do you find most interesting about the Carthusian horses?
 MD: The fine character that they have.

TFS: Did you have to make any special changes to accommodate the horses/people in the film?
MD: The movie is completely shot on location, so there were no special arrangements. Only to build a lot of black background for a few scenes.

TFS: Did you need any special permits to film at select locations?
MD: Yes, we needed a permit for a few locations, but most of the great locations invited us for the film. Thanks to Juan Llamas!

TFS: The scenery was stunning. Would you tell us about shooting out in the open countryside?
MD: Shooting in Spain is fantastic. Many times we had to search for the horse on big country sites. I was like doing a wild life film. The scenes
in the sunset were really great. There was a lot of wind and we had to stabilize all the shots in post. But the end result is just great!

TFS: Horse Of Kings won Best Equestrian Documentary Full International at the EQUUS Film Festival. Can you tell us how that felt?
MD: We had a deadline when we signed up for the festival. The film was ready  November 18th 2015, the dcp (Digital Cinema Package) was made over night, we (me and my producer Marc Smedema, from Orange Labels Films) flew in on the 19 of november 2015. Delivered the movie 15 minutes before the start of the festival. Missed our one screening on the big screen. Had a private viewing the next day and in the evening of November 21st and then it was “the winner is……” What a story!
TFS: Have you been apart of other Film Festivals?

MD: The next festival is the Wild Life Film Festival in Holland in October!

TFS: Since these horses have such soft and reflective coats, did you have to use any special kinds of lighting when filming?

MD: No, we did a lot with existing light. Most of the scenes were lit with the use of daylight lamps and big soft boxes. The poster shot was done by the photographer Hugo Thomassen and I did the ground work with the horse, Generose. We used 3 flash lights and could only take one shot a time on a big format camera.

TFS: Did you have any problems with the dust the horses kicked up with the cameras?
MD: No, I had no problems, only when I started the shoot in 2013 a dropped my camera on the first day. The viewfinder was broken, fixed it myself on the set!
How long did it take to film?
First interview was in 2008, started shooting in 2010 and ended in 2015. So about 5 to 6 years! Shooting ratio was 1 to 45 minutes. So for 1 minute of the movie I did 45 min of filming!
Favorite local area that you filmed in?
MD:  I love south Spain. Jerez, Cordoba and Seville.
TFS: Was it difficult to work with the horses and riders? 
MD: No, it was great working with all the people, you can feel the passion in the movie. And of course the horses were fantastic actors. That’s why in this movie all the horses are in the end credits!
TFS: You have a lot of equine art featured in your film. Where did you shoot the equestrian art in Horse Of Kings? 
MD: The school in Jerez is great, was there for shooting 3 times.
TFS: Horse Of Kings is filled with many interesting facts about the breed. How long did it take you to research your facts?
MD: The research took about 2 years. We start shooting without a script. After the first 11 shooting days we went home. In 2011 the research was done and the script was made.
TFS: Would you tell us what it is like to create a film that explores the history of this famous and ancient breed?
MD: It is and was a honor to make this movie. The breed is part of the Andalusian culture. The movie is about this chemistry! I am glad that a few breeders try to keep the breed pure! Yes of course, I learned a lot about the horses which are in my heart.
TFS: Some of the shots were of a birds eye view. Did you use a drone to make these images? 
MD: Yes we used a drone, and the shot in the movie was saved…. because the drone crashed into the water! The drone was broken, but the shot was saved and I used that in the end of the movie. When I had to start over again I would used more drone shots. The horses had no problems with the drone!


TFS: What was the funnest thing that happened on Set?
 MD: We did a few shots with horses in front of the monetary in Jerez. After the shoot the doctors of Hierro del Bocado wanted to mount and I did some shots of that. White horses with green doctors…. Funny picture. Not used in the movie!
TFS: Do you have any future films in the making? Any horse related?
MD: Yes, there are plans to do a movie about the Arabian Horses. working on that….
TFS: Where can people see Horse Of Kings?
 MD: I’m looking for broadcasters in the USA, UK, Spain and Netherlands. The movie can also be ordered on here. And it can be seen on Horse Lifestyle.
There is a Special Edition Box on sale with Blurry/DVD and CD with soundtrack. Language  subtitles are in, ENG and Dutch and German and French versions are coming soon.
Thank you, Mario, for this insightful interview and supplying the behind the scene photos! This is truly a marvelous, absolutely stunning film. I learned so much and the horses and the culture of Spain that I did not know before watching this film! Looking forward to seeing your future  projects.

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