Nikki DeLoach and Scott Porter share the screen in Hallmark's romantic comedy Taking the Reins

Scott Porter didn’t have much of a choice. When he got the script for Taking the Reins, the romantic comedy that debuts this Saturday on Hallmark Channel, his wife told him he had to take the part.

“When I got the script, my wife was like, ‘It’s for what? It’s for Hallmark? Oh, you are so doing it,’” he said. “I’m like, hon, I haven’t even read the thing and she’s like ‘No, you’re doing it.’”

Spousal commands aside, Porter said he had a great experience making his first Hallmark movie.

“They always say Hallmark is like a big family,” he said. “It’s so true.”

Though DeLoach is a Hallmark veteran, the movie was a new experience for her, too.

“There were horses in almost every scene,” DeLoach said. “It felt like a much bigger movie.”

Going home again

The movie follows Sam (played by DeLoach), a writer who returns to her family’s ranch to write about her love of horses. She rediscovers riding and decides to enter a competition, but the only coach she can find is her ex-husband, Luke.

The two argue at first but eventually realize they still have feelings for each other.

“One of the things I really love about it is that they still love each other,” she said. “But they were so young so that they didn’t really have the skill set to be able to work through their problems.”

DeLoach said she and her creative partner, Megan McNulty, thought it would be worthwhile to bring the world of dressage to the small screen. They caught the ear of a Hallmark executive who agreed with them.

Nikki DeLoach and Scott Porter in Taking the Reins
Taking the Reins (Image: Hallmark Media)

In the film, DeLoach’s character has been pursuing a career as a writer not because she wanted to but because she thought she had to. DeLoach said it was a theme they thought many people would be able to relate to.

“What happens when you wake up one day and you don’t know if you’re doing this for yourself or if it’s the only thing you know how to do,” DeLoach said.

Stubborn co-stars

Both DeLoach and Porter are experienced riders. DeLoach grew up riding horses on her family’s farm in Georgia and Porter rode horses while he was growing up in Nebraska.

Despite their experience, both DeLoach and Porter said it was a whole new world trying to make a movie with the animals.

“The horses were incredible but they were also like hyper stubborn,” Porter said.

That meant scenes didn’t always go according to plan. At one point, DeLoach’s character was supposed to gallop away on her horse in a huff. But the horse didn’t feel like moving, so the director ended up shooting the top half of DeLoach’s body while she moved up and down to make it look like she was riding full speed ahead.

Porter said it was touching to watch how his own children reacted to the animals. When they came to visit the Connecticut farm where the film was shot, his son and his daughter got to sit on horseback for the first time.

“I forgot the impact of forging a relationship with an animal can have on you,” he said.

Taking the Reins will air on Saturday, September 25 on Hallmark Channel at 9/8c.

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