Novelisto: Waller Farms in China houses equine celebrity

Novelisto: Waller Farms in China houses equine celebrity
Novelisto: Waller Farms in China houses equine celebrity

When he’s not on set in exotic locales, a celebrity makes his home in China, Texas. And while you might not know the name Novelisto, you’ve almost certainly seen his work in films like “Winter’s Tale” and the upcoming “Helen of Troy.” He didn’t have speaking roles, but there’s no denying the star qualities of this humble performer who keeps all four feet firmly planted on the ground.

Ashley Slack Waller and her two daughters are the proud owners of Novelisto, one of two Breyer horses stabled in China at Waller Farms part of the year.

Waller has owned Novelisto, who they nicknamed “Listo,” going on four years now. Waller said she found Listo after becoming friends with Hollywood horse trainers Rex Peterson and Cari Swanson. She went to New York and purchased Listo through Cari Swanson, she explained.

“I had no idea he was actually a movie horse at that time,” Waller said. “We were just kind of looking for an Iberian bred Andalusian horse.”

Swanson and Peterson’s collaborative efforts with their joint venture, Swanson Peterson Productions, train “equine actors that have become film stars,” Horses Daily reported Feb. 13, 2014, and Swanson worked with Novelisto for films like “Winter’s Tale” and “Helen of Troy.”

Waller didn’t know about Novelisto’s stardom until after she went to bring him home.

“Then [Swanson] let me know that the next couple months after that were going to be really crazy,” Waller said. “She had informed me that he had been in a movie; there’s a lot of horses in movies, but it did so happen that he was actually not just in a movie but he was featured and starred alongside of Colin Farrell for ‘Winter’s Tale.’”

“He’s one of the only horses that has been cast with their name listed on the caption.”

“We have a lot of pictures of Colin and Listo together,” she said. “I think they pretty much made the news all over, including the Ellen show where Colin talks about Listo and he gave … kisses and things like that.”

Novelisto was also cast in the upcoming film “Helen of Troy,” with Canadian actor Brad Livingstone Black and his wife, Taylor Black, according to Waller.

“Most of [that film] was shot in France and New York,” Waller said. “He’s got another project we can’t talk too much about, but that should start up … probably by the first of January, they’ll start shooting on that film.”

Waller said that Novelisto, who has also been used in some video games, has his own Facebook fan page with nearly 6,000 likes.

Ralph Lauren did a special fall fashion release the week of Sept. 14, 2016, featuring galloping shots of Novelisto on Madison Square.

Waller, her daughters and Listo have visited patients at Texas Children’s Hospital several times for meet-and-greets.

“He’s just a very kind and loving horse. He is very angelic, has a great, great disposition, loves children,” she said. “He’s been a wonderful horse for us, and we just adore him; we’re really blessed with having such a great guy in our life.”

Waller said they are looking forward to having Listo back this winter for breeding season.

“We do breed a couple of horses there and have some of his offspring. We’ve had two foals out of him.”

Listo’s breeding has been limited, Waller explained, due to his busy work schedule.

“He’s been in New York since last May or June,” Waller said.

Waller Farms horses participate in a wide variety of competitive events.

“With Listo, I’ve shown him only in a working equitation competition, which is like a dressage and obstacle state,” Waller said.

“Listo, as a younger stallion [about 6-7 years old], was actually the best in show; he was the high point champion in the Lusitano Andalusia show [for the] International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association.

“I wouldn’t usually have a stallion around or allow my children to be around them, but in his case, he’s just very different,” Waller said. “His person is my youngest daughter, that’s his kid. He’s very affectionate to them, just a really good horse.”

“I’ve been showing horses for over 30 years of my life, and I’ve never met a horse like him. He’s just very, very different; he’s very special.”

Listo measures 16.1 hands tall, according to Waller.

“He’s just a gentle giant,” she said. “One day we breed him and the next day, he’s in Houston with the children from Texas Children’s Hospital and Candlelighters and Ronald McDonald house. He just is very affectionate and is not upset or perturbed. He’s very loving. He bonds with the younger and innocent people; he seems to really be very affectionate and sweet in that sense. He’s just been a great inspiration to a lot of people that meet him and have known him.”

Her daughter, Madison, is 13 and has been riding since age 2, and competing against 17 and 18 year olds since she was 5 years old. Madison bought Diablo Dici, a Lusitano gelding, by selling one of her hunter ponies and purchased him herself two years ago, Waller said.

“She’s been working really hard with him.”

Novelisto and Diablo were both featured as Breyer horses at the annual BreyerFest event in Lexington, Kentucky, at the horse park.

At BreyerFest, Maddie demonstrated working equitation with their Spanish trainer Antonio Garcia and guest trainers from Portugal.

“Horses from all over came to join us and do an exhibition,” Waller said.

Her younger daughter, Emily, is 9 years old and rides the hunter ponies, including her big sister’s older pony.

Right now, Waller Farms has two imported stallions from a renowned Spanish breeder that she plans to train in dressage and sell. Waller Farms also offers lessons and training.

“Some of our ponies have over 50 world champion titles each,” she said. “I work with them and try to get the best out of our youngsters that we’re working with so that we have a game plan so that they have a solid future in the show pen, and normally we don’t show anything unless it’s an accomplished show horse. We usually have a marketing plan.”

Margot Fischer and Garcia teach riding lessons for children ages 5 and above from hunter-jumper to dressage. Several of their students come from Beaumont.

Garcia has been riding Novelisto for about two-and-a-half years, he shared with The Examiner. His wife, Sophia Revert, translated for the interview.

“The horse is a very special horse; he’s really sensitive and he has a really nice character, so everybody can ride him like … people that didn’t ride before,” Garcia said, talking about Novelisto.

Anyone interested in lessons or training can contact Waller Farms through its Facebook page for more information.

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