‘Lonesome Dove’ Star Robert Duvall Opened Up About Riding Horses in His 80s

by Taylor Cunningham

Now that the famed Lonesome Dove star Robert Duvall is in his 90s, he is almost completely retired from the saddle.

The actor made himself famous by playing cowboys in some of the most iconic Westerns films ever made. And his fans have grown accustomed to seeing him chasing down villains while on horseback.

But by the time he made A Night in Old Mexico, Duvall was 83 years old. And due to his age, he had all but given up on his equestrian hobby.

In fact, because shooting riding scenes can be risky, Duvall never even mounted a horse for the film—despite the fact that his character was a rancher—which made some people disappointed.

During a chat with Cowboys and Indians, Robert Duvall admitted that he did manage to go for a ride every now and then, but he has a hard time getting in and out of the saddle. And his days with wild mustangs are over. At this point in his life, he can only handle horses that are completely broke and reliable.

“Once I’m up there, I’m OK,” he explained to the magazine. “I’ve been riding horses in Virginia recently — bombproof horses — but I do need a stool to get on them now. Once I’m up there, I do pretty good, as long as the horse is OK. But, you know, they’re not machines. I’ve had broken ribs, everything, over the years when I’ve fallen off horses.”

‘Lonesome Dove’ Actor Robert Duvall Knew He Won His Oscar for ‘Tender Mercies’ Before Dolly Parton Even Read His Name

Robert Duvall is one of the most legendary actors in Hollywood history. Because of that, he’s been nominated for seven Academy Awards. But he’s only snagged one trophy. And when Duvall got the award, he wasn’t even surprised.

But it wasn’t an overabundance of pride that made the Lonesome Dove actor realize that he earned an Oscar. It was just plain common sense.

The win happened in 1984 after Duvall played a down-on-his-luck country singer in Tender Mercies. And when he found out that Dolly Parton was handing out the trophy that night, he figured he had to be the winner. It wouldn’t have made sense for the country songstress to hand it to any of his contenders.

“When I got the Oscar, it was nice,” Duvall said. “When Dolly Parton said, ‘And the winner is,’ I knew that I had won it because she was into country music. I knew then I was OK. The only other nominees were from Britain, from England, so it was nice to win in something that Horton Foote [wrote].”