04/10/2012 AT 2:30 PM ET
Besides good looks and a Scottish accent, Richard Madden shares another trait with his Game of Thrones character, Robb Stark: a love of horses. But it didn’t start out that way.
“I didn’t know how to ride before I got the part,” he tells PEOPLE. “I actually ended up really enjoying it, and continue to do it [on my own].”
After learning he had landed the plum role on HBO’s epic series, Madden immediately began taking horseback riding lessons to successfully portray Stark, a highborn lord who grew up on horseback.