Last week I had the honor of riding RJ Masterbugs, the star of the recent movie Hidalgo. RJ is a 7 year old paint stallion standing at 15 hands tall. He is one of the most alert horses I have ever ridden. His trainer and owner, Rex Peterson claims it was his uncanny ability to follow him with his eyes all the time that convinced him that he had star potential. RJ was only 2 years old, unbroke and quite a handful when Rex found him for the film.
Sitting on RJ is an experience. He is patient and waits for a command, always alert to his trainer outside the arena. RJ was trained to perform many tricks, such as shaking his head yes or no, dragging a human across the arena, rearing, striking, laying down, bowing and counting, among a few. Each trick can be cued by Rex off camera from quite a distance. RJ analyzes each new rider and only performs when you respect him and ask correctly. I was impressed with how balanced and calm he was to ride.