Interesting Facts about WAR HORSE Puppets

Disclosure: We attended as media.

My friend and I attended a performance of WAR HORSE at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. If you’re planning to see WAR HORSE, bring tissues.
It’s really shocking how war horses were treated in the war time. I’ve never really
thought about it until now – those poor animals!

Joey and Topthorn © Brinkhoff and Mögenburg

You see now I’m talking like the animals on stage are real, and that’s because the mastery from the art of puppetry will blow your mind. They really know how to bring the story to life, and you start to feel empathy for the animals. You will be in complete amazement throughout the show and after because the horses will gallop off the stage.

Grayson DeJesus on Topthorn and Michael Wyatt Cox on Joey
© Brinkhoff and Mögenburg

Some interesting facts and figures for you:

  • The puppet (Joey), weighs 120 lbs, is handmade by 14 people and it takes 3 puppeteers to control it.
  • The three puppeteers of Joey: one at head controls the head and ears, one at heart controls breathing and front legs, the third in the hind controls the back legs and tail.
  • An aluminum frame along the spine, lined partly with leather for comfort, allows the horse to be ridden.
  • When the horse is ridden, the puppet weighs 300 lbs! (Source:
  • A harness connects the puppet’s and puppeteer’s spines so their movement become the breathing of the horse – INCREDIBLE!
  • They move the tail and ears instead of lips and eyelids because that’s how horses usually express themselves – must see to believe!
  • The puppet, just under 20 ft long and about 8 ft tall, has about 20 major joints.
  • The black eyes are behind clear resin to refract light.
Albert and Joey. Andrew Veenstra (Albert) with John Riddleberger,
Patrick Osteen, Jessica Krueger (Joey) © Brinkhoff and Mögenburg 2011

    Segerstrom Center is really beautiful and even though we sat in the back in Tier 1 near door 6, they were still really good seats. Come early to visit the special Interactive Exhibit of Puppetry and World War I artifacts and uniforms available before the show in the lobby. Military Rush Discounts are available for $20. You can learn more from a previous post here. One more thing: it’s not recommended for kids under 12 because of the violence.

    January 22 – February 3, 2013

    Winner of five 2011 Tony AwardsÂź including Best Play!

    Segerstrom Center for the Arts
    600 Town Center Drive
    Costa Mesa, California

    (714) 556-2787

    WAR HORSE - Joey. Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui © Brinkhoff and Mögenburg
    Joey. Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui
    © Brinkhoff and Mögenburg

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