Professional barrel racer Tonia Forsberg is well known for her stunt work and animal training abilities. Photo courtesy Tonia Forsberg.

Now that they’ve retired from full-time stunt work, the Happys have been enjoying their horses more.

“When we first got married, it seemed like every rodeo we entered, there were very few we actually made it to because we had to work. If you were taking off to go rodeo or do something fun, they’d call someone else the next time. You have to be careful not to turn down too many jobs,” Marguerite said, lamenting the fact that Clifford turned down an invitation to the first Timed Event Challenge due to a stunt job.

“We’re both retired, but still work a little,” Marguerite said. “We have our retirement and insurance. It would have been a whole different path had we chosen just to do the horses. Now that we’re retired, we’re able to go a little bit more.”

Tonia Forsberg

This past fall, Tonia Forsberg and her son Tyler were making daily runs from the set of HBO’s “Deadwood” and the California Circuit Finals Rodeo. Forsberg, who put a large part of her barrel racing career on hold for her stunt career, will join her son, a calf roper, at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida.

“This is the first time I’ve done anything big,” laughed Forsberg, a stuntwoman who recently added animal trainer to her resumé. “I’ve rodeoed off and on, but I’ve never gone to as many rodeos as I did [last] year. I wanted to qualify for the circuit finals. When I won the second round, it was surreal.”

Now, Forsberg has entered the winter rodeos leading up to the RNCFR.

“I got to trick ride at Fort Worth, and now I get to go back and run barrels. That’s a bucket list right there,” Forsberg said with a smile.

Although her mother Diane Chapman qualified for the National Finals Rodeo six times, Forsberg didn’t follow her mother in the arena.

“I did a lot of horse shows growing up, a lot of gymkhanas and jumping,” Forsberg said. “I did a lot of other disciplines. My mom gave me tips and advice, but she didn’t teach me to run barrels. It wasn’t there for me as a kid. I think that’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

With her parents supplying livestock for the film industry, Forsberg ended up getting her SAG card when she was 10 for doubling Jenny Beck on the television show “Western Guns of Paradise.”

While she’s performed numerous other stunts, the horse work remains her favorite, and it’s taken her around the world.

“I got called to go to Budapest,” Forsberg said. “I had to fall the horse down a hill. As I’m falling, I’ve got to roll down the hill in front of the horse. They ended up cutting it out of the movie, because they thought it was too violent. I got to go to Morocco and double the lead actress in Hidalgo.”

Forsberg says the most recent fun job she’s done was on “The Lone Ranger.”

“I got to use my trick riding skills, riding backwards,” Forsberg said. “I got to fight on top of a train, which was actually a train car on a semitruck. The actress gets thrown off the train onto a horse running alongside the train. I had to do a transfer from the horse to the train while sitting sideways on his neck. We were going like 25–26 miles an hour, so it was an adrenalin rush for sure.”

Forsberg is still doing stunts, but she’s also working on increasing the family’s presence in the production side, supplying livestock and horses, especially now that she and her husband Todd’s two boys want to continue in the business.

Tonia Forsberg played a stuntwoman in the movie "Hidalgo".
Most horse lovers have already seen her in the movie “Hidalgo” as the lead actress’s double, but barrel racing fans will be hearing the name Tonia Forsberg called at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo this year. Photo courtesy Tonia Forsberg.

Ann Scott McGilchrist

Like most stuntwomen, Ann Scott McGilchrist—who goes by Scott in most of the films she’s worked in—followed her family into the business, and like many of her fellow barrel racing stuntwomen, it was horses that got her family involved.

Her father is well-known stuntman and stunt coordinator, Walter Scott. He grew up on a ranch south of Los Angeles, and like many of his contemporaries, parleyed rodeo into stunt work on Westerns.

“When he graduated high school, he was like, ‘I’m going to Hollywood to be an actor,’” Ann said. “He was rodeoing at the time. A lot of cowboys were working on Western movies, doing stunts at the time. He rodeoed and met other stunt guys at the rodeos. He started out with the horses, and then he learned how to do other things.”

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