Daryl Dixon is one of the bravest characters on The Walking Dead. By the end of Season 6, it seemed like the only things he was constantly afraid of were a hot shower and a haircut. Unfortunately, actor Norman Reedus isn't quite so fearless about certain situations that Daryl could easily handle. For Reedus, horses seem to be his major nemeses, and the prospect of riding one on a regular basis on The Walking Dead wasn't a happy one. He's had to face them on various sets, and he's not looking to do it again anytime soon.
I'm sure everyone can smell my fear. But then I did this movie with Robert Redford called The Conspirator and I was supposed to pull up on a horse and yell at people and be real tough and the horse went like this. It looked like I knew what I was doing and about two seconds into it the horse would just start to like trot backward and get in single file with the other horses. And I could hear Redford screaming "someone handle Norman's horse!" And I was like, "Man, I'm gonna get fired off this job." And I just -- I thought -- I thought the same thing. When I read that in The Walking Dead script, I was like, "well, whose motorcycle is that?" And they're like, "it's your brother Merle's." I'm like, "Well you know, if Merle could ride a motorcycle, Daryl probably knows how to ride a motorcycle." I spun it into that.
Norman Reedus revealed the tale of his trauma to Conan O'Brien on Conan, and it's hard not to sympathize with the guy. Sure, he got himself into the Conspirator mess by signing on to do a movie that would involve horses, but it was a movie directed by the legendary Robert Redford. The idea of turning down a movie with Robert Redford because of a riding scene would have had to feel silly.
Poor Norman Reedus actually had to deal with horses on a few sets in the span of only three years. He was filming on a horse as Murphy MacManus in Boondock Saints 2 in 2009, as Lewis Payne in The Conspirator in 2010, and as Daryl Dixon in Season 2 of The Walking Dead in 2011. Boondock Saints 2 and The Conspirator at least let him interact with horses in a fairly controlled environment for his character; The Walking Dead flung Daryl from a skittish beast down a ravine in a fall that impaled him with one of his own arrows and nearly killed him.
Norman Reedus himself may not have taken the fall in the sequence, but he was on horseback for some of the episode, and that could not have been fun for him. He had to interact with a horse yet again when Daryl discovered Buttons running loose in Season 5. Luckily for him -- although not so luckily for Buttons -- the zombies got the animal before it could give him any trouble.
Personally, I have a hard time imagining Daryl Dixon on a horse on a regular basis. The motorcycle has become an iconic aspect of his character over the years. Frankly, Daryl probably would have just gone ahead and eaten the creature during some of the more dire straits endured by the not-so-merry band of survivors over the years. As far as I'm concerned, The Walking Dead is a better show thanks to Norman Reedus' fear.