Go slowly to go fast, ride every step.
— Rex Peterson

Hollywood Horses

Listo in training, watch him gallop across the Silver Screen in Winters Tale, opening

Valentines Day in a theatre near you.  Listo is a magnificent stallion who stars as

Athansor across from Colin Farrell and Tuff is Russell Crowe’s mount chasing Colin’s character throughout

the film.  Zeke, Merlin and Peaches doubled Listo for many of the scenes.

Lunar Lily -RJ’s yearling filly available for shoots

Black Gold and Mr. T on Set Jayne Mansfield’s Car

Listo is a 14 year old Andalusian stallion who stars as Athansor in Winters Tale,

a Warner Bros film due to be released later this year.  The film co-stars Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe,

William Hurt, Will Smith, Jen Connelly, Jessica Brown Finley, and is directed by the master wordsmith

Akiva Goldman.  The film was shot on location in Brooklyn, Manhattan and on stage in Long Island.

Viggo Mortensen riding Cache, one of Rex’s Hollywood cast horses in “Appaloosa” .

Ed Harris, writer, director, actor, producer of “Appaloosa” with Viggo on Rex’s cast horses

It is clear how important the horses are to the film, the use of the horses as sculpture and they are very important to the composition of each scene.

Rex is riding Ty leading T with the cameraman trying to get a shot in the river, Jess is flanking T on the off side riding Tuff.  Horses in film are not only used on camera but behind the camera, assisting in capturing the shot.

Rex Peterson training Miley Cyrus on AHQA gelding Blue Steel Man, better known as Blue Jeans, for the Disney film “Hanna Montana-The Movie” in Nashville.  Rex also had to train Blue several tricks for a scene where Blue takes Miley’s wig off with his teeth.  Blue Jeans is an 11-year-old, 14.3 hand gray Quarter horse owned by Bobby Brooks.

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RJ Masterbug was discovered by Rex as an unbroke unruly 3 year old stallion in Texas.  Rex noticed his uncanny intelligence immediately and purchased him to star in the Disney film “Hidalgo“.  After performing the most challenging stunts and sequences in the film he was typecast in Hollywood as Hidalgo, finding it difficult to be taken seriously for other roles.  However after a few years passed, he was cast as Benedict Arnold’s horse that is shot out from under him in “American General”.  RJ gave the director over a dozen variations of the dying scene, impressing the entire cast and crew with his range.  He also worked on “One Life to Live” and most recently was featured in the final scene of Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” ridden by Jonathan Groff.  Ang Lee was so impressed with RJ’s professionalism and skills exclaiming, ” why can my horse hit his mark every time and you actors cannot?”  When the cameras roll, RJ lights up like every A list Hollywood Star.

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Viggo Mortensen on TJ standing with Rex on RJ on the set of Hidalgo”

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Cari working with RJ to prep for a film with Ang Lee.

Ang Lee discussing the shot with Cari who is riding RJ through the sequence before putting the actor, Jonathan Groff, in the saddle.  RJ is always a pro on set and is so well trained  that if you run through a scene several times he understands the drill and performs without flaw.

photo by Ken Regan Camera Five

Ang Lee discussing a shot with Cari where several of her horses are used as police horses in the montage sequence of the traffic jam on the highway leading all of the hippies and concert attendees to the fields where the music festival takes place.

Cari worked with RJ on American General, an HBO film where Benedict Arnold has his horse shot out from under him.  RJ had to lay down and play a dying horse .  He offered the director many takes from a slow death with moaning to a quick head hitting the ground hard and lying perfectly still.  He is quite a character and always knows when the cameras are rolling.

Rex owns many cast horses that he supplies for films.  Here is Tye, the horse Ed Harris chose to ride as his mount in “Appaloosa”. His brothers Steel and Copper are also popular cast horses trained to perform any stunt required.  Heath Ledger rode Copper in “The Patriot”.

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Several dozen horses were used in the filming of “Appaloosa,” mostly large, sturdy quarter horses, along with some appendix horses and mules. Head wrangler Rex Peterson studied old Frederic Remington paintings to research the horse tack of the 1880s. “The horses are being ridden with fancy period silver bits and bridles,” says Peterson. “The American Indians are riding with plainer saddles and bridles.”

Harris and Mortensen did their own riding, mounted on large, solid-colored bays and sorrels. “They’re both excellent riders,” says Peterson.

The steep mountainsides in the Abiquiu area demanded careful planning and intense focus for all involved. Viggo Mortensen recalls, “We did all the hardest stuff in the first week; climbing up steep hillsides with rocky terrain. Rex selected two very impressive steeds for Cole and Hitch to ride because when they first come into town, they want to make an impression. They come in on horses that are much bigger than the other ones in town.”

“The image of Cole and Hitch riding into town in this fashion is classic Western iconography,” offers executive producer Michael London. “They’re two characters who set out to right a wrong. It sounds like a simple and obvious task, but they ultimately discover the nuances and complexities of the situation that make their jobs impossible to accomplish without compromising something along the way.”

“It’s not a revisionist Western,” states Mortensen. “It’s not a movie about 1882 seen through our eyes as much as it is a picture that’s without judgment of people as they seem to have behaved back then. The standards of behavior were very different. In some ways, there were higher standards of politeness and chivalry, but in other ways, people were much more direct and brutal towards each other. Neither Ed nor I, as the central male characters, are trying to justify the violence that comes with our jobs in this story, or to make our characters seem more heroic than they are.”

Cache N Page  aka Cache is an American Quarter Horse Stallion who Viggo rode in “viggoedmule
Appaloosa”.  Rex is schooling Cache, an impressive 7 year old Stallion, for his next film role.  He is beautifully trained and like all of Rex’s horses is schooled as a main cast horse ready to perform many tricks required for complex scenes in the movies.


Cache Rex

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Almost all of Rex’s horses are taught to drive as well as trained under saddle so that they can be used in multiple scenes on set.  Rex can hitch up any size team and once successfully drove a hitch of 4-3-2-1 just because he was told it could not be done.  He admitted it was not easy, but with the right leader, who was his trustworthy Hightower, he drove the team triumphantly.

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KEEPIN CHARGE aka Tuff is a AQHA 12 year old gelding  by DOCS KEEPIN TIME aka Justin. He was bought back from the breeder as a yearling,  started as a two year old with the hopes that he would come along in time to replace his daddy. Justin been in a few commercials,  used on a couple of  T.V. shows, worked as one of the double horses on HIDALGO, performed extreme stunts on the boat on THE RING, doubled as FLICKA,   cast as the mount for Jeremy Irons horse on APPALOOSA. He’s still a fairly young horse by movie standards and has a long career in front of him maybe as famous as his daddy someday.  Watch Tuff at AQHA\’s Quarterfest where he performed to adoring fans.

Watch this video where Rex works Tuff at liberty, controlling his horse with voice and whip commands, much as a conductor uses a baton to conduct an orchestra.  These movements of calling the horse,  sending him away and moving him for placement on the movie set require thousands of hours of training.

tuff with centaur

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Harbours Mist aka Mr T. has been in “Dreamer”, “Temple Grandin”, “Secretariat”, “Appaloosa” as well as performed at many venues including the Equine Affaire in Pomona, CA and the North American Horse Fest.

Production Notes from Dreamer

Back in a stall at the Crane farm, the men settle Sonya, Mr. T, into an equine rescue harness that suspends the horse in mid air to keep her off the broken leg. This device is used to treat horses with broken leg bones; prior to its development, horses with such injuries were immediately euthanized.

After raising Mr. T approximately eight inches from the floor, Rex placed a prop brace on the right front leg. On action, crew members used an electric pulley system to slowly lower Sonya while the actor pretended to lower the horse using a fake chain attached to a steel I-beam above the stall. Trainer Rex Peterson was in wardrobe inside the stall performing most of Russell’s action.

In the saddling ring before the Breeders’ Cup exposition, Goliath Boy portrayed by Monkey,rears up and charges at Sonya/Mr. T, who responds in kind. This sequence was rehearsed with the two horses for several weeks prior to filming. Standing off camera opposite Sonya/Mr. T, Rex snapped a buggy whip in the air to cue the horse to rear up. He then called Goliath/Monkey to him.

Kris Kristofferson, Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning from “Dreamer”.

For the second part of this scene, trainers positioned the horse and then handed the lead to Russell. Trainer Peterson stood off camera in front of Sonya cuing her to rear up while the actor held the lead and tried to control her. Peterson then stopped snapping the whip, allowing the actor to “gain control” of Sonya/Mr. T until cut was called.


Mr. T. is schooled in high level dressage as well as being trained to do many tricks, Performance at the Equine Affaire, Pomona and the North American Horse Festival.

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WALT DISNEY PICTURES’ “SECRETARIAT” BEGINS PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Principal photography is underway for Walt Disney Pictures’ “Secretariat,” the story of the legendary Triple Crown-winning horse and his owner Penny Chenery. The film will be shot on location in Kentucky and Louisiana with Mr. T cast as one of several horses set to portray the great Secretariat, trained by Rex Peterson.

The film is directed by Randall Wallace (“The Man In the Iron Mask” “We Were Soldiers,”) and stars DIANE LANE (“Nights in Rodanthe,” “Untraceable,” “Unfaithful”) and JOHN MALKOVICH (“Burn After Reading,” “Changeling”). Based on the remarkable true story, “Secretariat” chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner. Housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Lane) agrees to take over her ailing father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge. Against all odds, Chenery – with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (Malkovich) – manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time.

The cast also includes DYLAN WALSH (TV’s “Nip/Tuck,” “The Lake House,” “We Were Soldiers”) as Chenery’s skeptical husband, and DYLAN BAKER (“Spider-Man 2,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Revolutionary Road”) as Chenery’s brother, a Harvard professor who questions her abilities. MARGO MARTINDALE (“The Savages,” “Million Dollar Baby”) portrays Chenery’s assistant, and NELSAN ELLIS (“True Blood”) plays Eddie Sweat, Secretariat’s groom. OTTO THORWARTH, a real-life jockey who, through mid-July 2009, had more than 1300 wins, portrays Ron Turcotte, Secretariat’s famed jockey. FRED THOMPSON (“Law & Order,” “Die Hard 2,” “In the Line of Fire”) plays Bull Hancock, a master horse breeder who was president of the Racing League and a friend of Chenery’s father. SCOTT GLENN (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “W.”) plays Chenery’s father, and AJ MICHALKA (“Aly & AJ” group) portrays her daughter. KEVIN CONNOLLY (“Entourage”) and ERIC LANGE (“Lost”) are featured as the reporters who first recognize Secretariat’s potential, and JAMES CROMWELL (“24,” “W.”) portrays a wealthy financier and pillar of horse racing.

Director Wallace is an Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-nominated screenwriter (“Braveheart”). The film is produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, who founded Mayhem Pictures (“The Rookie,”"Miracle,” “Invincible,”). Mike Rich (“Finding Forrester,” “The Rookie,” “Radio”) wrote the screenplay. The creative team also includes Academy Award®-winning cinematographer Dean Semler (“Dances with Wolves,” “We Were Soldiers,” “Apocalypto, “Appaloosa”, ” the upcoming “2012″), production designer Tom Sanders (“Saving Private Ryan,” “We Were Soldiers,” “Apocalypto,” “Eagle Eye”), costume designer Michael Boyd (“Gettysburg,” “We Were Soldiers”), and editor John Wright (“X-Men,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “Apocalypto,” “The Incredible Hulk”).

Copper, Tye, and Tuff Rehearse for a Commercial

Rex is a master of training horses to perform what many claim impossible.  He is one of the most sought after Horse Trainers in Hollywood known for delivering the shot.  While others may initially underbid him, they end up costing the Studios thousands of dollars when they do not perform the stunt.  Rex in known for performing without fail every time within a reasonable budget.  With a string of highly trained horses, he can handle any situation. Rex is highly regarded by many Directors,  Producers, Actors, Cameramen, and American Humane Officers for protecting them as well as the livestock.

Here you can see his mastery at work with his son Ryan Peterson prepping horses for a commercial film shoot.  The producers asked Rex to bring one trained horse he could rear under saddle for a scene with only 48 hours notice. Rex responded to the call with “no problem, what color do you want, I have a string of 19 to pull from”.   Of course when we arrived on set the scene was changed to have the horse led from the barn, rear, and run off at liberty.  Luckily Rex was prepared with two other mounts who were also trained to rear under saddle or at liberty so we had pick up horses on set to help accomplish the set up with no problem. Rex always shows up prepared and his motto is“Nothing is Impossible”.

Rex’s son, Ryan Peterson,trained Doc is to perform all of the tricks necessary for any scene required.  Doc is a stunning obedient palomino with  an excellent laydown, paw, yes, no, push and many other “buttons” required of every successful cast horse in the Peterson Stable.

Justin aka Docs Keepin Time

Justin rearing closeupRex found the three year old Justin at the race track where he was a running Quarter Horse.  Originally trained for The Black Stallion Returns , Rex realized he had a star performer.   After a visit from Caroline Thompson, Justin was cast as Black Beauty becoming famous to horse lovers around the world.   For a promotional tour, Justin and Rex toured the country with AQHA, performing at many venues including the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, earning the prestigious Silver Spur award from the AQHA.  Justin loved to perform and was especially attentive to children.  Justin continued to work in many films including the opening scene of The Horse Whisperer where his character is killed by the truck.  Justin is retired, occasionally breeding and living among a herd other famous movie horses at Rex’s ranch in California.

Justin was in All the Pretty Horses. To film a stirring scene, the actors and crew had to be ready to handle rambunctious steeds themselves. More than a month before production began, Matt Damon and Henry Thomas, as well as Lucas Black and Penélope Cruz, began intensively training horseback skills, trying to build in a few weeks the kind of familiarity with equines that John Grady Cole and his pals would have had since childhood.

“Henry and I came down to Texas a month early and rode horses every single day for five weeks straight,” Matt Damon explains. “We worked with  wrangler Rex Peterson. Every morning Rex and  would take us out and we’d ride, pretty much for eight hours.”

The actors were put through regular drills, as they perfected the art of working in sync with the animals. “It was all about controlling the horse and feeling totally confident,” explains Damon further. “Part of the training with Rex was that you had to saddle the horse in the morning, unsaddle him at night and carefully brush him. The point of it all was to feel at home on the horse, to understand that unspoken aspect of being a cowboy and horseman, that bond with animals, and have it look as authentic and natural as if it’s something you’ve been doing all your life.”

Despite the weeks of hard work, Damon gives the majority of the credit to the horses themselves. “They’re better actors than we are,” he says. “They’ve been in hundreds of movies and nothing ruffles them. They’re used to guns being fired near them, hundreds of people milling around, cameras, cranes, food, what have you. They can handle it all.”

When the actors were finally deemed acceptable horsemen, ready to handle their end of things, Billy Bob Thornton took several days to shoot the horse-breaking sequence. Damon and Thomas alternated in the action with their stunt doubles, Richard Bucher and Mike Watson. Bucher and Watson rode the most ferociously bucking broncos, often being thrown to the ground. But Damon and Thomas endured their share of spills as well.

Black Beauty and Trainer Rex PetersonJune 17, 1998

black beautyBlack Beauty , equine co-star of the hit movie, “The Horse Whisperer”, will appear daily at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions. Black Beauty, affectionately known as Justin, is an American Quarter Horse, who’s registered name is ‘Doc’s Keepin Time’. Prior to “The Horse Whisperer”, he starred in the Warner Brothers motion picture “Black Beauty” and has also appeared in numerous television programs, commercials, and music videos.

I first met trainer Rex Peterson when working on a film together in 1982 “Sylvester” a Tri Star film starring Melissa Gilbert, about a young girl’s accomplishment over adversity who successfully competes in Kentucky, at The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. A stunt actor and Hollywood Wrangler, Peterson went on to carve a career for himself training and managing “The Black Stallion”.Phelps Photography & Video* — the Official company for The Bayer/USET Dressage Festival of Champions.
* We are doing videos for the riders only, no production.


HIGHTOWER

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Julia Roberts performing her own stunts on Hightower in Runaway Bride with Richard Gere.

Hightower is one of the all time great Hollywood Equine Stars.  He became most famous for playing the lead role as “Pilgrim” in “The Horse Whisperer” opposite Robert Redford.  Hightower did not start out as a movie horse.  He was given to Rex in 1984 and used as a ranch horse, roping dangerous bulls in the California Mountains.  Rex admired the strength and determination of Hightower as well as his ability to handle the most dangerous work with calmness.  Hightower’s first movie appearance was in the 1989 movie “Winter People”. Rex had taken three other horses to use in a scene requiring a horse to drag a dummy a long distance.  the other horses gave out after a few takes so Rex brought in his trusty ranch horse Hightower to do the scene.  Hightower went to work dragging the dummy with the same determination he used on the ranch,” Rex said.  “When he showed his strength take after take, I knew he had the makings of a great movie horse.”

HightowerTyler2

Rex’s son Tyler, age 4,  riding Hightower in a Junior Rodeo Barrel Racing Class.

Hightower went on to work in many more films and TV series including Black Beauty, Adventures of the Black Stallion, Geronimo, Wild Bill, Sergeant Biko, Amanda, Elizabeth Taylor Story, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Last Best Place, Born Free, Big Steal Little Steal, Winchell, Buddy, Princess Diaries II

Hightower’s Obituary recalls his extraordinary accomplishments throughout his long equine life, his legacy will live on forever as One in a Million.

Glenn Randall, Sr. Obituary from LA Times

Glenn H. Randall Sr.; Horse Trainer

May 07, 1992

Glenn H. Randall Sr., who trained horses ranging from cavalry mounts to Roy Rogers’ palomino, Trigger, and other Western movie horses, has died at his Newhall residence. He was 83.

A longtime Newhall resident, Randall died Tuesday of cancer, said his wife, Lynn Randall.

Born on Christmas Day, 1908, in Melbeta, Neb., Randall began training horses at age 9 and by his early teens was breaking and training horses and mules for the U.S. Cavalry at Fort Robinson, Neb. In the early 1940s, he moved from Wyoming to Bakersfield, to manage a large horse ranch.