RJ Stars in PBS Film American General: Benedict Arnold



Strangely I found myself dressed in costume of General Benedict Arnold wearing a white wig and greatcoat over uncomfortable riding britches and shoes far too big for me. I was requested to gallop RJ away from the camera, looking from side to side for the invisible pursuing enemies as the second unit director filmed Benedict Arnold fleeing from his home in the middle of the night. Many takes were demanded to shoot the horse from several angles so that more drama could be edited into the film.

Initially I was hired as RJ’s trainer to perform one major scene where the General’s horse is shot dead to the ground. In this particular scene Benedict Arnold narrowly escapes a British bayonet pointed at his neck. After RJ is positioned on the ground, the director requests that RJ lift only his head looking back at his rider in agony and fall dead to the ground. True to form, my horse offered numerous options from highly dramatic to calm resignation.

However prior to falling to the ground he had to spar a bit, proffering a brief repertoire of a of tricks for the camera, rearing and dancing on his hind legs with only his saddle and bridle. He was quite intimidating, commanding respect from the cast and crew.

Between takes, the entire cast embraced him, rubbing his neck and asking many questions about his career as Hidalgo in the Disney classic film. He loved all the adoration and attention. He was such an obedient actor for the most part, with a brief moment channeling Marlon Brando, finding it difficult to transform into character. Rj worked a full day shooting over a dozen scenes with both the director and second unit.

This film is being produced for PBS to air next fall. It is titled American General: Benedict Arnold based in part on James Kirby Martin’s revisionist history, “Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: an American Warrior Reconsidered.

RJ has been busy this summer with photo shoots and performances, generating interest and income for the Horse Rescue, Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation. He has settled into his new life at Windrock Farm enjoying the large fields of turnout and changing seasons. For information on his availability please contact cari@cariswanson.com or check the web site www.cariswanson.com.