ARIEL KAPLAN, THE SADDLE CLUB
In her fi rst lead role on a TV show, Ariel Kaplan is riding high. Guy Davis chatted with the young star of the popular children’s series The Saddle Club.
It seems that there’s always been a connection between young girls and horses, which goes a long way towards explaining the success of Bonnie Bryant’s bestselling series of Saddle Club novels.
And the TV series based on the books have proven popular with young viewers all over the world.
The third season of The Saddle Club, following the adventures of a trio of pony-crazy pals, is now airing on Nine, and 13-year-old Ariel Kaplan is one of the stars.
Ariel, I understand that horses weren’t really your thing before you joined The Saddle Club.
No, and we had about two weeks of training before they said “ OK, go ahead, start riding!” [ Laughs] And I just fell in love with horses from then on. I can’t get enough of them, even though I’m the furthest thing from a country girl. I probably wouldn’t have even tried riding if it wasn’t for Saddle Club but now I ride every week.
Tell us a bit about Lisa, your character on the show.
I think she’s a great character. She’s sometimes seen as the goody-two-shoes, someone who tends to follow her friends in whatever they do, but when it’s important and when it means a lot to her she pulls through. She’s such a determined girl who’s often faced with really hard decisions and it doesn’t help that her mum is always on her back pushing her to be a perfectionist. However, the truth is that Lisa is a tough girl with a heart of gold. Playing her was a great experience for me.
Were there parts of the character could you relate to more than others?
Well, she usually tags along and I’d probably be the one leading! But there are little things that we have in common – I’m a bit of a worry-wart, just like Lisa. [ Laughs] She’s always up for a bit of fun but she’s scared about getting in trouble. When it’s the right time, though, she’ll step up and be the hero. And like Lisa, I try to be academic … well, I try! The things is, everyone on the set was telling me I was so much like Lisa it was scary.
Had you read the Saddle Club books before you joined the show?
I knew about the books but I was more familiar with the TV series. Like I said, I wasn’t that into horses but I really liked the friendship aspect of the show.
Did the friendships and relationships you created for the show extend off - camera as well?
Defi nitely. The three of us in The Saddle Club were spending 24 hours a day together, so we became good friends – the other two girls have gone back to Canada now but we talk every week. And I lived with two other girls from the cast who actually play our enemies on the show, and we became best friends as well. I don’t think there could be a more enjoyable and fun series to be a part of. The cast and crew have become like a family. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had an experience like this.
What were your favourite scenes to fi lm?
I liked it when I got to be mean! [ Laughs] It only happened once every 10 episodes or so but whenever I got to say something mean I was like “ Yes! Finally!” That’s one of the great things about acting: you get to say things you would never, ever really say.