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Stuntwoman Gets the Breaks While Riding Agitated Horses

August 17, 1995|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Trisha Lane jumped off a dock milliseconds before 20 pounds of TNT exploded behind her.

No problem.

Lane, a stuntwoman, also drove the car that ran over the evil heartthrob character of Michael Mancini in the 1994 season finale of "Melrose Place."

No sweat.

No sweaty palms, either.

There's really only one way to increase Lane's pulse: let her ride the angriest bronco available.

"Stunt work will give you an adrenaline rush," Lane said. "But I've never found a rush that compares to when you bear down in that chute and you nod for the boys to pull the gate.

"That's hard core."

And hard work.

Lane, who lives on a ranch in Chatsworth and is the eighth-ranked bareback bronco rider in the Professional Women's Rodeo Assn., never broke any bones as a stuntwoman.

Then she began her rodeo career.

The Lane Ledger now shows a broken left arm, a busted tailbone and two cracked ribs, courtesy of uncooperative horses.

Lane, who will try not to get bucked in exhibitions today through Saturday at the Great Western Forum Rodeo, has quickly learned the rules of the sport. If thrown, A) rub dirt into wound and B) get right back on board.

"I rode on my broken arm well before the doctors told me it was OK," Lane said. "They said it wasn't strong enough and that it could snap again."

Lane taped it up and saddled up.

"Even though we're girls," she said, "there's that old saying, 'Cowboy up.'

"Either you get out there, toughen up and ride or you go home."

Throughout her life, Lane, 31, has chosen to ride.

As a youngster, she spent more time at stables than at school. When she was 11, she worked as an assistant trainer. Cleaning the stalls was one of her chief duties.

Little did she know that her lifelong passion for horses--which continued through her graduation from UCLA in 1984--would one day lead to a stunt career.

A few years ago, Lane was breaking in a mustang at a public barn. She fell, but emerged relatively unscathed. A stunt coordinator happened to see the spill and suggested she explore a stunting career.

Lane took the advice and did stunt work in a few low-budget movies.

Her big break came in 1993, when she was named the stunt double for actress Laura Leighton, who plays Sydney Andrews on television's "Melrose Place."

The crowning moment came last year, when Lane's car flattened the villainous Mancini during the climactic scene of the season finale.

"That was a very exciting day for me in the business," she said. "It was one of the first times my father had come down to the set and here I was, midday, and they shut down Sunset Boulevard for me to slide a car around a corner. It was pretty exciting."

The secrets of the stunt: The car was going 12 miles an hour and Lane hit a stunt double, not actor Thomas Calabro, who plays Mancini.

"Everything was set up precisely," Lane said. "Doing the stunt, you can kill someone. It's not joking around. You rehearse the speeds and you rehearse the marks."

Lane did stunt work for the film "True Lies." She also dabbled in acting and modeling and appeared in the March issue of Playboy.

Still, Lane felt something was missing from her life. Something that could be traced to her past.

"One day I just decided I'm going to do everything and anything I wanted to do in my life," Lane said. "Rodeo automatically came to mind."

A year ago, she began her professional rodeo career and has succeeded thanks in part to skills that have basically been with her since childhood.

But it hasn't always been easy in the male-dominated field.

"Some of the guys are really nice and some of them aren't," she said. "They're like, 'Look, this is the boys' club. What do you want to do here?' "

The tensions have, however, decreased over time. Maybe now everybody realizes what type of person Lane is. "You know the girl that beat up all the boys in grade school?" Lane asks. "That was me. I've always been a tomboy."

Now she's a cowboy.

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