Horses and Woman: Alex Cord

An article written Vernon Scott back in 1986. 

Michael Coldsmith Briggs III

Michael Coldsmith Briggs III

Actor Alex Cord, one of the stars of TV’s “Airwolf” series, has been thrown by women and horses most of his life but he hasn’t given up on horses.

Cord, currently in the process of being divorced from his estranged wife, actress Joanna Pettet, is spending more time with his four polo ponies than he is with Hollywood glamour girls.

He exercises his horses some 15 hours a week and plays polo once or twice a week on a celebrity team that includes actors Bill DeVane and Doug Sheehan, both of the “Knots Landing” series.

On occasion, he calls on such other players as Sam Shepard, Tommy Lee Jones, Stacy Keach and Robert Logan to fill out the team.

“There are a lot of comparisons between horses and women,” Cord said, “and I’ll probably be crucified for saying that.

“Horses, like women, are sensual creatures. Three of my four thoroughbreds are mares — beautiful things. I like mares best because they are more aggressive and bolder. But they can be pretty testy, like women.

“Personality and character traits in horses are as clearly defined as in women and before you can get along with a horse, you have to work out an understanding, a relationship with it. Same with women.

“When you own a horse, you learn there are some things you allow it to do, other things you ask it to do and still others that you demand.

“It takes a lot of understanding to get along with a horse, just as it does with a woman. If you make the wrong move with a horse, you can be bucked off. If you make a mistake with a woman, it can cost you a fortune.”

Cord laughed, acknowledging he did not know which was more costly, owning a polo team or being married.

“Wives and polo are both expensive,” he said. “Somebody once said polo is a disease for which the only cure is poverty. That’s essentially true. There’s another saying: the way to make a small fortune out of polo is to start with a large fortune.

“But playing polo is a dream come true for me.”

Cord has had a life-long obsession with horses. He was first plopped down in the saddle as a 3-year-old on Long Island, N.Y. At age 12, he was stricken with polio and his dreams of riding horses faded. He recovered, however, with one leg an inch shorter than the other.

By age 15, he was hanging out at stables, a kid from the other side of the tracks who hoped to become a jockey and a polo player.

Cord eventually became too heavy to ride as a jockey, and he couldn’t afford polo. So the young man broke and trained horses and rose bareback broncos and bulls on the rodeo circuit.

After being gored by a bull and suffering broken ribs and a fractured skull in other mishaps, Cord settled for winning blue ribbons and trophies in the refined arena of hunters and jumpers.

“I’ve done everything on a horse except come out of the gate at Santa Anita, and I still may do that one day,” Cord said.

“I co-starred in the remake of “Stagecoach” and I did some guest shots on a few westerns like “Gunsmoke” and “Quest”. Now my dream is to have my own TV western series. It would be great to work with horses and get paid for it, but the odds are against it.Archangel Alex Cord

“I find myself riding in a helicopter instead of on a horse in “Airwolf” and I suppose a chopper can do more than a horse.

“There won’t be more westerns because of the audience’s fascination with the world of high tech,” said Cord. “We are in the “Star Wars” era of computers and telephone answering-machines.

“What’s more, human values have been distorted by the superpowers of the world. In the Old West, it was man-to-man confrontation. Today, some gray-haired guy can push a button and kill every human being on Earth.

“We live with a concept of the end of the species. How can a horse opera compete with that? From the beginning of time, individuals knew life would end, but not all of humankind. That thought has an effect on us all the time.

“The possibility of wiping out everyone has made westerns obsolete,” Cord said. “Stores of the Old West are factors we can’t relate to anymore. Our destinies are in the hands of national leaders.

“The bottom line today is that kids don’t play cowboys and indians anymore. It’s Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.”

“To an old horseman like myself, it’s a very sad truth.”

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