08/01/2011 at 01:00 PM EDT
Rachel Nichols has performed her fair share of action sequences in films like Star Trek
and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
. But to play the leading lady in the upcoming Conan the Barbarian
remake, the actress faced a whole new set of challenges.
"I had to learn how to ride a horse," Nichols told reporters at a Conan the Barbarian
press event at Comic-Con in San Diego. "I had to learn first on a tether, going around a little ring, and then I had to learn to do everything: gallop, ride bareback, and then drive a carriage. I did all of it."
Nichols, who'd never ridden a horse before arriving in Romania to shoot the film, admits her first foray into equestrianism was a bit fear tinged. "It was kind of this wild ride, and then I quickly learned you can't be afraid on the horse," she says. "The horse can tell, and the horse will make you its b---h. So you have to sort of flip it around."
But despite her best efforts, Nichols couldn't overcome her anxiety regarding one particular equine: Rodolfo, the horse that was paired up with "Jason Momoa
, the 6-ft. 4-in., 230-lb. star of Conan
"It was huge," she says of the horse. "It was so big and so ornery – and I'm still scared of it today! ... I can't ride Rodolfo."
Rodolfo aside, Nichols quickly developed a passion for riding the beautiful animals. "It was so much fun, and I now love riding horses," she says.
The actress even had the opportunity to ride again while visiting Peru for two weeks, an experience she describes as "pretty amazing."
But don't expect the Nichols to join an equestrian club anytime soon. "Horses take a lot of money to maintain," she says. "I'm not that rich!"