Saturday, June 16, 2012

How to Jump from a Horse to a Moving Train

In the story I'm working on at the moment, there's a scene where the protagonist (Hawthorne) is required to jump from his running horse and onto a moving locomotive.

Yes, I know it's been done before, many times, in countless Western pulp stories and action movies. What's your point?

The funny thing is, there's nothing on line about exactly HOW to do that. You'd think that, since it's such a stand-by action-y thing to do in Westerns, you'd be able to find some, I don't know, Stuntman's Bible or something to lay out all the steps involved. But I couldn't find a damn thing.

So I was forced to make it up. Here's how you do it, according to me (oh, by the way-- DON'T ACTUALLY DO THIS, WHAT ARE YOU , AN IDIOT? How sad is it that I feel the need to actually say that?):

First, spur your horse alongside the train. Make sure the path ahead is clear and smooth, so the horse doesn't stumble.

Keep a steady pace that matches the speed of the train.

Transfer the reins to the hand farthest from train. Make sure you know exactly where the hand-hold on the train is, and that it can support your sudden weight.

Remove feet from stirrups, and very carefully bring the leg closest to the train up and onto the saddle.

Crouch on saddle.

Launch yourself off the horse, thrusting with your legs. Sort of like diving off a board.

Grab hand-hold on train.

Ta-da! You have successfully jumped from a horse to a moving train.

Now get inside that train and deal with the bad guys!

**did I mention, by the way, to NOT DO THIS? Just making sure.


  1. If you wanted it to be real cool, you would just jump the horse and rider into an open boxcar OR (placing hands out director style)have said horse and rider leap from a higher perch on to the FUCKING TOP of said moving train and gallop down the length of the train jumping FUCKING boxcars while kicking ass and a shoot'en and whomp'en bad guys till he gets where he needs to go.

  2. Fuck you, I'm trying it. Hold my beer and watch this.

    1. Kimmy, haha! You would. And you'd probably pull it off, knowing you.

  3. My first thought when I read the title was "Very Carefully!" Make sure the reins are tied together so the horse doesn't trip when you drop the reins.

    1. Good point, Sandra. Must think of the horse's welfare after your jump!

    2. Not just the horse, if he trips while you're jumping you might miss the train. It's so much easier in the movies, isn't it?

  4. This might help you decide which course of action to take....Steam locomotives greatly improved during the 1800's increasing both their efficiency and speed. In the 1850's and during the Civil War in the United States the average speed was about 15 to 20 mph depending on grade and load pulled. General Haupt who oversaw the United States Military Railroads in the 1860's would budget 15 mph for scheduling purposes. In Great Britain at this time the invention of the steam orifice and the introduction of superheating increased the average speed to about 35 to 40mph. From the 1880's on greater engines, increased efficiency and the adaption of steel rails pushed the average passenger express to 50mph. At the very end of the 1800's speeds of 70 mph on passenger expresses were common in England and the Union Pacific on straight runs in the American West. At the very turn of the century The Santa Fe ran a specially modified train with one passenger car at 100 mph through parts of the American West in a speed run from Los Angeles to Chicago.

    Read more:

  5. I did a lot of research on trains for a story I did a few years ago. In Japan so many people kill themselves by throwing themselves on the tracks, they had to institute a protocol to stop it. It is traumatic for engineers as you might guess. Enough about trains. Happy Father's Day.

  6. How about writing on jumping from a moving train onto a galloping horse?! That'd be a major stunt! Main points to take into account:

    - make sure horse knows the train timetable
    - make sure there are no galleries along the way
    - make sure saddle is tied up correctly