Tornado (horse)

Tornado (occasionally Toronado) is a horse ridden by the character Zorro in several movies and books. Tornado is referred to as a black Andalusian in the movie The Mask of Zorro, although a Friesian plays the role. Tornado is said to be very intelligent and very fast. His name is pronounced in the Spanish way, "tor-NAH-do" (except in The Mask of Zorro). Being as jet-black as Zorro's costume enables horse and rider to more easily elude capture at night.


Over the decades and the many stories, the specific details of Tornado's history and personality differ considerably.

In Isabel Allende's novel Zorro, Tornado is given to Don Diego de la Vega upon his return to California, by his milk brother, Bernardo (manservant in the Disney television series), and Bernardo's wife, Light-in-the-night, who trained it. During Bernardo and Diego's Indian initiation ritual before leaving for Spain, Bernardo notices a black foal tentatively following him while he is alone in the woods. Gradually, he befriends the horse, and names him Tornado (pending the horse's approval). He plans to tame Tornado and give him to Diego, but when he wakes up after three days the horse is gone (only to show up again later). Instead of a gift, he takes it as a sign that the horse is his spirit guide, and plans to "develop the horse's virtues: loyalty, strength, and endurance" (76).

In The Mask of Zorro, when Diego returns to his home after being imprisoned for twenty years he finds that everything, including the original Tornado is gone. (The novelization states that Tornado probably stayed in the area for as long as possible for love of his master before wandering away.) His successor, Alejandro Murrieta, finds himself his own horse which he names Tornado after the first horse. (The novelization suggests that it may be the son of the earlier Tornado.) It is an intelligent animal, but was at first poorly disciplined and seemed to deliberately make life difficult for his would-be master. For example, when Zorro prepared to jump from a building onto his horse's back, Tornado walked a few steps forward so his master fell on the streets when he jumped. In this film's sequel, The Legend of Zorro, Tornado changes from obeying to disobeying Alejandro at various times, explained in the film as the horse's inability to correctly interpret English commands.

The horse in The Legend of Zorro was actually a Friesian horse, named Ariaan [1] and was chosen because he wasn't very big. ("Antonio Banderas, who plays Zorro, isn't a very tall man. If he had to ride a big horse he would have looked tiny on the silver screen").[2] Another horse, the Friesian gelding Tonka, was also used in the movie as a backup. He was used in some galloping scenes and when Ariaan, a stallion, didn't want to cooperate.

A cave that was a filming location for a number of Zorro productions filmed on the old Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., has become known as Tornado's Cave, named after Zorro's horse. It appears in many other productions as well, such as the 1942 Republic serial Perils of Nyoka. At one end of the cave once stood a fake mine entrance, now known as Tornado's Mine, with pieces of the old movie construction still visible.


  1. Jitske Veenstra, October 28, 2005, Zorro rijdt in film op Friese hengst (in Dutch), Friesch Dagblad, retrieved December 25, 2011.
  2. October 28, 2005, Paard van Zorro is Fries (in Dutch), Jeugdjournaal, archived 2006-01-06.
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