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Argo, Trusty Warrior Steed!

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A Tribute to Xena's Horse Argo

Argo is the beloved Palomino horse belonging to Xena, Warrior Princess. Through thick and thin this talented steed, played mainly by a horse called Tilly, is there for Xena whenever she needs her.

Carrying Xena into battle accompanied by that infamous war cry, Argo is a feisty mare who is quite capable of holding her own, delivering a well-aimed kick at many an evil warlord!

Xena: Warrior Princess was a hugely popular fantasy TV show which aired from 1995 to 2001. It followed the adventures of warrior Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle as they went about righting wrongs across ancient Greece, battling gods, warlords and evil creatures.

Argo (and her identical foal, Argo II) appeared in 77 of the 134 Xena episodes made. This lens pays tribute to my favourite horse and reviews some of her best episodes!

So saddle up and meet this beautiful Palomino, and learn more about both the character of Argo and the horses who played her!

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Xena & Argo: An Unspoken Understanding

Aphrodite: "So, you shrunk her horse and then you lost him? So what?"

Gabrielle: "So what? Do you know how important Argo is to Xena? Sometimes I think she likes that horse more than she likes me."

Xena and Argo have an amazingly close relationship. Both seemingly know what the other is thinking. Argo responds to Xena's whistle and other verbal commands with ease. In many episodes Xena would leave Argo roaming wild and always be reunited with her upon returning from her quest.

At the start of Xena there was some confusion over Argo's gender, as early episodes such as Sins of the Past and Dreamworker have Xena refer to Argo as "boy". However, from season one episode The Greater Good onwards, it is made clear that Argo is a mare.

Argo's strength, beauty and intelligence is a perfect match for Xena. She has a personality that is rare in horses, sensing danger, issuing commands to other horses and seemingly feeling emotions just like humans do. She can get jealous and was the first to sense that Xena was pregnant in Animal Attraction.

Watch Argo in Action!

You can find Argo (and Argo the Second!) in all six seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess. which are available on DVD here!

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Argo Breyer Horse Model

Argo was so famous, Breyer even made a model of her! For those of you unfamiliar with Breyer, they are an American company who specialise in plastic, porcelain and resin model horses for play and collecting.

"Xena's Horse Argo" was released in 1999, priced at £29.99 in the UK. She came in a specially designed Xena box and was posed in a fabulous action stance. She even graced the cover of Breyer's Just About Horses Magazine (Volume 26, No.3, May/June 1999) alongside Xena.

Also named "Xena's Battle Charger, Argo", she is model number #757 and made from high quality cellulose acetate plastic. She is airbrushed to create realistic depth of colour and hand-painted tri-colour eyes.

She is now retired but can sometimes be found on sites such as eBay - take a look below to see if there are currently any auctions!

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Argo and Gabrielle

Gabrielle: "Argo doesn't like me."

Xena (petting Argo): "Sometimes you have to have patience with things that annoy you."

Gabrielle: "Oh, I never said she annoyed me."

Xena: "I wasn't talking to you."

Gabrielle, Xena's beloved companion, initially has a testy time with Argo. The character is not an adept rider and Argo takes great delight in running circles around her! Gabrielle rarely rides Argo except behind Xena or when she is injured. However, as the character of Gabrielle grows throughout the seasons, seeing her become a great warrior in her own right, she eventually gets her own horse, played by a gelding named Flash.

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Meet Tilly, Barbie and Mac!

The Horses Behind Argo

A common question among fans in the early Xena days used to be "why doesn't Gabrielle have her own horse?"

The response was that it was too expensive - for not one, but three horses played Argo in the show.

Tilly was the main horse behind Argo. She was the horse that Lucy Lawless (who played Xena) loved to ride and had faith in when riding. Tilly then had a stunt double, called Barbie, who would perform all the fancy kicks, rearing and other neat tricks. Finally, another horse named Mac (another reason why the Argo gender confusion arose!) was the body double, working with the Second Unit and usually appearing in distance shots.

These are the three horses named by crew members in official sources such as the Xena Magazine. However, some online sources also claim that there were two other horses involved in playing Argo; Aztec, who performed rears, and Honey, who performed kicking and running shots.

All the horses who played Argo were between 10 and 14 years old.

WHERE IS TILLY NOW?

Thanks to a recent blog by Xena actress Lucy Lawless, I can now share where Tilly is now! Lucy posted photos of Tilly from December 2010 and said, "She has Cushings disease which gives her a fluffy coat but otherwise is very well. She is now in her 20’s but still flies like a rocket. She is very safe and loved by all the kids in her community."

You can view the post along with two gorgeous pictures of Tilly at the Lucy Lawless Fan Club Page - scroll down to the post under 2/17/2011.

You can also read about the special "Argo" horse Lucy has painted for Resene Fastest Art Exhibition, which will be auctioned off to raise money for NZ children's charity the Starship Foundation.

Top Argo Links

  • The Argo Archives
    Very professionally presented site devoted to Argo!
  • Argo and Friends
    Xena fan site that includes Argo artwork, poems, stories and even the type of care and nutrition Argo would have had!

Training Horses on Xena

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The three horses playing Argo (Tilly, Mac and Barbie) were bought by Pacific Renaissance (producers of Xena) from different areas of New Zealand, and were housed at a 10 acre stable complex leased by the company.

One of the horse wranglers on Xena, Sandy Raynor, was interviewed in the November 2000 issue of Xena Magazine. She explained that the producers wanted Xena's horse to have a very specific look, to ensure Xena had a style totally her own (the character originated on the show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and had previously ridden a grey horse).

When selecting a horse for Xena, however, personality was paramount, and more important than looks! The ideal candidates are horses that are quiet, sensible, and interact well with people.

Learning the various stunts required for Xena takes time. The handlers and trainers decide which horse will be best at performing what is required, and training can take quite a while depending on the stunt. For example, to get Barbie to do a particular kick safely took around three weeks. As Sandy explained, anyone can get a horse to kick, but you don't want them going around kicking everything and everyone!

Therefore, the horses had to learn that combinations of different signals and colours meant different things. A certain whip being tapped behind her, that was a certain colour, used in conjunction with a certain word, meant "kick".

Sandy spoke very highly of the horses she worked with on Xena, describing them as sensible and accepting. Tilly was with the team from the very beginning and had excellent behavior.

"As long as you make (the horses) feel safe and comfortable, they'll really do anything that you want them to."

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Key Argo Episode: The Greater Good

"Riding? That would mean...Argo. She doesn't like me." - Gabrielle

This hugely popular episode from the first season of Xena sees the warrior princess hit by a poisoned dart. Too ill to fight against an evil warlord threatening their friend, Salmoneous, Xena sends Gabrielle into their camp dressed as the warrior princess. Gabrielle manages to ride Argo (for once!) but is captured on her second trip back to the camp; however, Argo saves her.

Later in the episode, Xena is believed to have died (but really she is just in a very deep sleep, fighting off the toxins!) and the warlord has both her "body" and Argo. He tries to make Argo and another horse tear Xena's body in two, but Argo refuses. When a soldier goes to beat the horse, Xena miraculously comes back to life (a regular occurrence on the show!!) and does battle with the evil guys.

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Key Argo Episode: In Sickness and in Hell

"Apples? You left me for APPLES??" - Xena

In this season four episode, Xena and Gabrielle are suffering (and so is everyone else around them!) - Xena has lice, and Gabrielle has foot rot. Nice!

Xena is looking for Argo, having left her for rather a long time after her travels to the Amazon Land of the Dead searching for Gabrielle. But Argo doesn't want to know Xena, and keeps running away. A rather miffed Xena concludes that she must be mad because Xena has been gone so long.

Their friend Joxer enlists them to help a village fight back against a Scythian army. The leader of the army sees Argo, and, wanting such a magnificent creature for himself, captures her. Xena attempts to steal her back but Argo still doesn't want to go. Put off by the lice and foot rot, perhaps?

Towards the end of the episode, the Scythian leader charges Xena while riding Argo in a rather fetching war ensemble complete with horn. Luckily, Argo recognises Xena and stays faithful to her mistress, coming to an abrupt halt in front of the warrior princess and throwing the warlord off her back.

At the end, when Xena asks Argo why she let the Scythians capture her, she nods towards an apple tree. Xena is extremely put out to discover that her beloved, faithful steed defected over apples!

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Key Argo Episode: Takes One To Know One

"But I can't take back a horse! I don't do animals!" - Discord

This season four episode ran like a classic whodunit? Discord, Goddess of Retribution, traps Xena, Gabrielle and friends in Xena's mom's tavern giving them until sunrise to work out which of them killed bounty hunter Ravenica, found dead in the tavern. How did she wind up with a dagger in her chest, up to the hilt, with the door still locked, from the inside? A rather amusing Cluedo-style investigation ensues, until Xena finally works it out.

Turns out nasty Ravenica, who was out to kill Xena, was trying to cut Argo's tendons. Sensing danger, Argo kicked out, slamming the window shut and knocking Ravenica flying, who ended up knocking herself silly on the candelabra and stabbing herself with the knife she was holding.

Furious that she can't take retribution on a horse acting in self defense, Discord vanishes back to Olympus in a very bad mood!

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Key Argo Episode: Punch Lines

"So, you shrunk her horse! Big deal! Everybody shrinks as they get older. That's why old people are so short." - Aphrodite

Gabrielle takes Argo to the river for a bath, and to her horror, Argo shrinks! She comes across the God of Despair, Lachrymose, who tells her he will return Argo to normal size only if she can make him laugh.

Knowing Xena is going to be extremely mad when she finds out what has happened to Argo (especially being even more cranky now she's pregnant), Gabrielle tries to make the miserable god laugh, to no avail. Eventually, he shrinks Gabrielle too!

Towards the end, Gabrielle is returned to normal size, but Xena catches sight of mini Argo and is not impressed! A pie fight ensues in a tavern, and this, of all things, makes Lachrymose laugh. Argo is restored to horse size once more!

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Key Argo Episode: Livia

"Argo... there'll never be another like her." - Xena

In the previous episode, Xena and Gabrielle faked their own deaths to try to stop the Greek gods from killing Xena's baby daughter, Eve. Unfortunately, before they could come round from the potion they took, Ares, not realising they are still alive, takes their bodies and places them in ice tombs.

In this episode, they awaken from their frozen tombs after sunlight breaks through the ice cave and melts them. They stagger out into the world, horrified to discover that 25 years have passed!

They find their friend Joxer, now a much older man, and he sadly tells Xena that he had looked after Argo all these years, but she eventually passed away peacefully. However, he is delighted to present her daughter, Argo II!

Argo II is the image of her mother, and she and the warrior princess have an immediate connection. Despite having never been ridden, Xena bounds onto her back, and the two are instantly bonded.

Vote for your Favourite Argo Season!

Which series of Xena had the best Argo episodes? Vote for your favourite here!

I hope you enjoyed this lens! Are you an Argo fan? Want to leave some feedback? Please sign the guestbook here!

Shout Out for Argo! - Thanks for reading my Horse Review page!

kaseyrivenburgh on July 21, 2013:

Beautiful lens !

anonymous on July 10, 2013:

Most beautiful horse ever!!!!! She suited Xena perfectly... Gosh, I really miss this show :(

dragonlildragon on October 08, 2012:

Very great lens, love horses. I happened upon your lens via a linkedin group.

anonymous on July 09, 2012:

@missbat: not a breed, more of a color

anonymous on February 18, 2012:

Nice Page! Thank You! I love Argo, she's so beautiful!

Greetings from Germany! :))

anonymous on October 15, 2011:

I love Argo!! Sweet info you have here! I am a HUGE Xena fan and this is very nice, thank you!! Battle On!!

Karen Kay from Jackson, MS on September 21, 2011:

Great idea and well done!

momsfunny on May 15, 2011:

I think I have missed something good as I have seen an episode from Xena. Might have to put it on netflix

Fcuk Hub on February 23, 2011:

I always wondered what has happened to Argo :) Great lens.

missbat on September 17, 2010:

Palominos are one of my favorite breeds. Thanks for sharing about Argo!

toriphile81 on September 03, 2010:

What a fun concept!

anonymous on July 02, 2010:

Love this lens. It is very informative, very well written and all the photos are gorgeous. :-)))

BenJLee on May 18, 2010:

@norma-holt: really cool lens, i have fond memories of watching Xena as a kid, that and Hercules and i loved when they made cameo appearances on each others shoes

Kiosks4business on May 17, 2010:

Fantastic lens - I look forward to visiting it again.

http://www.squidoo.com/charity-kiosks

davemin on May 16, 2010:

great lens, the pictures are nice argo is certainly a beautiful horse

Heidi from Benson, IL on May 16, 2010:

Awesome Lens! Somehow, the animal characters in any live-action show always get underrated. Neat that Argo was a real character and not just Xena's mount. "Apples?" LOL, got a kick out of that one. Congrats on LOTD.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile, AL on May 16, 2010:

I love to ride. This is a great lens and great tribute.

rawritsrodney on May 16, 2010:

Nice lens :] Very good inspiration

Swagger1 on May 15, 2010:

Nice lens. Congrats on LOTD!

mich1908 on May 15, 2010:

Oh my gosh, that brought back memories. I used to watch that series. Great lense. 5 star!

Canela Ajena from Houston on May 15, 2010:

I remember XENA :)

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on May 15, 2010:

Beautiful horse! Congratulations on LotD!!

Emily Tack from USA on May 15, 2010:

Great Lens! Congratulations, too! I used to have an entire collection of Breyer horses, before my children "did them in". I cannot say I ever saw the show, as we did not watch TV during those years, but I would have loved that horse! Kudos are in order...

Bob Zau on May 15, 2010:

I never realized what a fan base Argos had... Fantastic Lens.

Gift-Guide on May 15, 2010:

Congratulation On LOTD

anonymous on May 14, 2010:

oh,i love horse.they are so beautiful

young-Fargo on May 14, 2010:

great lens I used to watch xena all the time, love that show.

hayleylou lm on May 14, 2010:

congrats on LOTD - such an informative lens, thanks for sharing - 5*

tandemonimom lm on May 14, 2010:

Great lens! Congrats on LOTD!

EpicFarms on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on LOTD; that's awesome. We are, of course, tickled pink that it was a horse lens that won it...BOO-YEAH! :o)

EpicFarms on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on LOTD Of course we are tickled pink that it's a horse lens that won...very nicely done! BOO-YEAH ;o)

lasertek lm on May 14, 2010:

I do remember Argo. She and Xena had such wonderful chemistry on screen. I like it when Argo refuses to follow orders - a bit funny! 5*

norma-holt on May 14, 2010:

Well done lens and congrats on LOTD, Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Lenses That Shine

anonymous on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on a well-deserved LotD!

FlynntheCat1 on May 14, 2010:

Aaargh! I just got my ahnds on Xena and this makes me want to rush off an watch it. Sadly have assignments!

Julianne Gentile from Cleveland, Ohio, US on May 14, 2010:

I'm terrified of horses, but this is a lovely lens :) Congratulations!

justholidays on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on your LOTD!

Delia on May 14, 2010:

congrats on LOTD! being a horse lover I'm happy to see this lens...many years ago I did a painting of Argo.

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on May 14, 2010:

This is a great new template and Squid Club. Congratulations on LOTD!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on May 14, 2010:

Wonderful details for fans of the show. I found it interesting how they trained different horses for actions.

modz on May 14, 2010:

Congrats on LOTD , I like the photos

Cosminsky on May 14, 2010:

Nice lens! Congratulations on LOTD! Well-deserved! :-)

sheriangell on May 14, 2010:

What a great lens! I loved the photos of Argo and Xena! Well deserved LotD!

kidspartythemes on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations! Argo is a fantastic horse :)

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on May 14, 2010:

Very interesting. I was not at all familiar with Argo and Xena. Congrats on LotD!

Patricia on May 14, 2010:

Congrats on LOTD!

anonymous on May 14, 2010:

dang best lense ever

babygirl3605 on May 14, 2010:

Xena remember it well. great lens

Gordon N Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on May 14, 2010:

Many Congratulations! I really enjoyed reading this original and interesting lens - even though, I'm afraid, I don't watch TV and have never before heard of the horse or the show! :( Love horses though and Argo definitely looks like a mare to me! :)

Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on May 14, 2010:

Congrats on a very worthy LotD! Yes, I'm an Argo fan!

Robin S from USA on May 14, 2010:

Congrats on LotD!!! Loved Xena and thank you for the featured lens spot too! Very nice of you. :)

Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on May 14, 2010:

Nicely done - congrats on LOTD!

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on LOTD!

anonymous on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on getting LOTD - what a beautiful horse Argo is!

HorseAndPony LM on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on LOTD! This is a great Horse Review. I was able to take the quiz but only scored an 85.

stacy mcdaniel on May 14, 2010:

Congratulations on lens of the day. Beautiful Lens!

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on April 18, 2010:

Love Argo! and palaminos are my favorite in general! great lens!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on April 18, 2010:

Wow! What a great lens! The horses are beautiful! I believe they may be even prettier than Xena :)

Geeve on April 18, 2010:

Great stuff, 5 Yays

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on April 18, 2010:

Excellent work on your lens.The horses playing Argo are beautiful. My hubby is a big fan of horses and I remember watching Xena. Thanks for sharing "Argo."