Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm Taylor and I'm THREE years old

This boy takes eating his jello very seriously. Two spoons and the bowl it was made in. Forget table manners, portions or sharing; he just went in!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Heard around the house

Yesterday the boys were both sick and Aric had to stay home from school.  He choose Man vs. Wild as the show to lay on the couch to watch with Taylor curled up on daddy's lap in the chair.  Bear of course at some point in the show ate a disgustingly large bug to which daddy went "eeeeeeeeewwwwww" for the boys benefit. Aric proceeded to defend Bear by saying "he has to do what he does to SURVIVE!"  Taylor was shocked by this statement and said in his most parent-like voice "That is not good behavior!"

Saturday, March 16, 2013


So Travis bought me a new computer so I have been transferring all my files for a while and am finally able to start going through my pictures again and start up my series of last years pictures. 

My boys take after their father in their total devotion to Indiana Jones.  Years ago I had a picture of Aric decked out like Indy and now I have some of Taylor too. 

Here is my Indiana Taylor:

1And just for fun here are the ones of my Indiana Aric taken 2/17/2008


You wouldn't have to try hard to figure out they are brothers. lol

Thursday, March 14, 2013

She's Syd the kid!

Travis just found his favorite pewter mug outside, the bottom caked with mud.  He came in flabbergasted as he made the mistake of asking Sydney why it was caked with mud. Of course her answer was so shocking and Syd like he couldn't even get mad.

"Because we were keeping worms in it!"

Of course, what else would you do with your fathers favorite pewter mug?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Aric and I are working on his homework. He is to come up with sentences for his sight words, he choose the word are. When I asked him what his sentence was going to be, he sat thinking for a moment and with a big smile on his face announced:

"Arrrr, matey!"

We had a hard time explaining why he couldn't use that for his sentence.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


After loosing a game he was playing Aric nearly killed Travis and I when he announced:

"OHHHHHHH, my team got skunked like a fart!"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Syd the science kid

I love my daughter and I am glad she loves science, but I am a little tired of her experiments all over the house. I thought we were going to have to declare her room a bio hazard there were so many things growing in there.

I don't often make it to the kitchen anymore, but I would love a few less surprise experiments on the shelves and in the cupboards. The other day it was a vase with vinegar and god knows what and blue food coloring with an egg in it (this eventually dissolves the egg shell and make the egg itself basically a bouncy ball). Then there is the ink pigmentation separation that had layers of coffee filters stacked everywhere.

Tonight's edition of what is Syd the science kid up to involves pulling open my freezer and seeing a carton of eggs, before I could help myself out of my mouth came "Why are there eggs in the freezer?" To which Sydney replied "Oh they aren't really eggs just the shells, by freezing them with......" after that I looked at Travis and shook my head to which he just smiled, apparently he had the same conversation earlier.

You think we would learn! :-)

Last Year - 2/23/2012

Nothing is better than a cookie with frosting for aking 2 year olds happy and picture perfect. ;-)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Last Year - 02/19/2012

There is a determination that runs in our family (mostly on my side - okay mostly from me) that Sydney has inherited. What 10 year old little girl gets it into her head that she is going to help daddy with his bow making work by splitting an over 6 foot long fairly round yew wood stave. She had watched daddy do it enough times she knew what she was supposed to do. To be honest I didn't think she would last very long. What she was doing was hard work and even tires out in shape adults. This would be where that stubborn determination comes in. She was out there for hours, at times it looked like she wasn't going to be able to pick up the hammer her little arms were so tired, but she persevered and split that dumb thing.  Way to go girl!!!!! (Of course I wish she hadn't done it in her school cloths, but oh well.) And for you doubters, here is your photographic evidence.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What we are reading today- The underpants Zoo

The scholastic school fair was this week. I got a book for Aric that I am regretting terribly. I thought it would be funny, but the humor has gone from it now the umpteenth time I have heard "UNDERPANTS!!!" yelled at me as another weird picture is shoved in my face.  It is a cute book for the boys age though, but I am terribly afraid I may see a bunch of underpants in my dreams tonight.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Last Year - 2/17/12

"I never saw blue like that before, across the sky, around the world. You've given me all you have and more, and no-one else has ever shown me how, to see the world the way I see it now. Oh I, I never saw blue like that before. And it feels likes now, and it feels always, and it feels like coming home." Never saw blue like that by Shawn Colvin.

This has always been a favorite song of mine. I thought I knew exactly what it meant the first time I really looked into Travis' eyes. Such a different shade of blue and such a brighter better outlook on life.

Three children later and a quick snap of to cold little boys wrapped up in a blue blanket after crawling out of their bath and my heart and mind went right back to that Shawn Colvin song. Their eye's haven't been enhanced with photo shop, the blue black just happens to be just the right shade to make them pop and everything that song meant to me changed. Seeing life through Travis' eyes was amazing, and I had never seen blue like it, but seeing their blue eyes looking up at me in this picture I can honestly say I never saw blue like that before...and it absolutely feels like home.

Last Year - 2/15/12

Growing up living in Joseph, Oregon February meant a few things mostly cold walks to school and alot of snow and all things that come with it. And I am not talking about a skiff of snow here or there but SNOW, the kind you had to take turns being the lead person because they were the trail breaker and therefore got worn out, that snowball fights never ran out of ammunition, you could invent entire families of snowmen, and sledding/snowmobiling was a part of every weekend.

I have adjusted to many things living in Walla Walla, but the lack of snow is the hardest for me. Apparently February here means spring has begun, 50 degree days aren't unheard of, and everything is starting to grow. It might seems silly to those of you who didn't grow up with a love of snow, but I miss it terribly. My kids however think it's awesome, these were taken last year on a very warm February day (those 4 words together still blow my mind) but nevertheless you can see the lack of snow isn't bothering them at all as they race around our back yard playing with Jake (my mother and father-in-laws dog). Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Syd the science kid/Realy?

Okay this happened today, and I couldn't pass up sharing.  A few days ago I saw this beautiful geode and saved the picture to show Sydney as she is a geode freak. I find eggshells everywhere as she is experimenting on growing her own. So today I showed her the picture.
Okay in the picture I showed her it still had the label right below the picture that read "Ethiopian opal geode", I even pointed it out to her as I read it aloud. She was in awe, oh my gosh, that is awesome etc. then came the question that made me stop and look at her and say REALLY?!?! I mean she is so smart and very rarely shows her blonde side, but here it came when so excited she asked "Where can you find those?"
Wow, really?

Last Year - April 2, 2012 The treasure hunt

Okay this is one of my favorites from last year. The pictures are not all that great but the story is to good to pass up. Last April my parents went to the coast, in the spirit of the piratitude that my family adores (my daughter has a pirate flag on her wall and several pirate chests she hides things in in her room) they bought some Spanish doubloons (tourist fake ones obviously not that the kids care or know) for them. However, in the dramatic flare that follows our family through life, instead of just giving the kids each their doubloons, dad bought a small treasure chest as well and filled it with the "treasure".

My mom and I distracted the kids when my parents came home and dad made the pass off to Travis who promptly took it out side to our unplanted garden and buried it in what was supposed to be a shallow hole (more on that later) placing to large wooden staves from his bow making supply in a large X on top of the buried treasure. After discovering the X the hunt began.
After they moved the X, they used their hands to clear away the debris that was on top of the dirt.

Next came the shovels, each of the boys took turns using the shovels to dig on their expedition. (Sydney was playing the big sister and letting the boys have fun as she video taped the whole thing.) 

Suddenly realizing that something is wrong and this is taking forever Travis decides he better help out in the digging before everyone freezes. (Notice the hole isn't just getting deeper but wider as well.)

Alright now Sydney, the expert in piratitude, is called in and the little hole has grown substantially. It has now become a full scale operation.
Last come my favorite picture, it's the moment when Travis realizes he has no freaking idea where he buried the treasure that was supposed to have been found in a matter of minutes and is now running on an hour. Some time later the boys got bored and cold and soon Travis and my dad were digging large wholes all over our garden looking for the stupid thing. It took sometime and a few beers, but eventually it was found. Of course by then it had become a mission for fun, but it did help get a huge section of my garden tilled up and makes for a good laugh now.

Last Year - January 28, 2012

Travis was manning the camera when he captured one of our favorite pictures of the boys.  You can't see their little faces, but you can see the bond they share just by looking at them. I really can't explain it any better than that. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and Travis and I think this one is worth so much more.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The last year

So I haven't been here in a while because I have been crocheting my fingers off (okay I still have my fingers but I have been crocheting alot!!!) and that has left little to know time for anything else. I have been looking through pictures from the last year in my spare time.  Since we have been leading a pretty solitary life I thought as I go through them I would post some of the pictures of the kids up here so you can watch them play there way through the year.

Last January we went on an adventure up Mill Creek with our kids and my nephew Ezra, had a fire, roasted hot dogs and marshmellows over a fire, threw rocks in the river, and in general just had fun as we froze our butts off.

Hope you all enjoyed these, and could see how much fun the kids had, even though all of their noses are red.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

LOL really doesn't cover this!

Since texting began the lol has come to be less than sufficient for so many things, it has elevated to LMAO and ROTFL or ROTFLOL but somehow those to seem in sufficient now after all this time to cover what was happening in my house this evening so I would like to submit a new version, an elevated version of LOL if you will LSHICBAWC (Laughing so hard I couldn't breath and was crying). Now that I got that out of my system here is what caused it:

My mother and father in law stayed to eat dinner with us this evening (a very delicious chili dish she cooked up for us all) while we ate we watched a pretty funny show that had us all LOL maybe even a little ROTFL, but certainly not beyond that. After the show was over I noticed that I had made a mistake in the pattern I was crocheting. I held the mistake up and shook my head and said in a disgusted irritated voice "See why I shouldn't crochet and laugh?" Of course this question was meant to be rhetorical because no one else in the room crochets. Carla is learning, but is no where near being able to catch a mistake in a pattern I created that she hasn't learned how to read yet. So when I noticed that like me she was glaring at the spot I was holding up shaking her head with a look of disgusted on her face and even went so far as to utter a very sympathetic "Oh man", it took alot not to smile, but nod accepting her sympathy (after all I had to frog 2 rows) before asking "You have no idea what's wrong do you?" in an even voice.

She continued to shake her head in disgust glaring at my crocheted mistake when she let out a long sigh and said with out cracking a smile at all "No".

Alright maybe you had to be there, maybe you would of had to have seen her face, maybe you would of some point in your life tried to get away with the same exact thing, maybe it was the fact that we were watching something funny so already had the chuckles, or maybe it was the fact that to me it was so funny, but that all it warranted from the men in the house was a small chuckle, but Carla and I found it so funny we were LSHICBAWC. I swear that everytime I tried to get it under control, I would just glance at her and off we would go again.  Then to add to it Carla points out to the me and the men, as I am wiping my eyes and trying to breath, that I haven't even had any alcohol. Of course that started me off once more.

It took a long time to get the laughing stopped, but I'm not complaining. It's nice to cry because something is so funny, even if the rest of the world doesn't get it. I hope you all have reason to  LSHICBAWC and soon to. It's good for the soul.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

He's Taylor and he is Three

Been a way for a while and can't stay long now but I just had to share the latest bit of Taylor-ism.  I had to crack up when he was playing a video game and Travis started vacuuming the floor.  Taylor yells at his father, "Hey, stop that noise I can't hear!" The role reversal in this was just to priceless not to share. 

Friday, January 18, 2013


I don't know why this picture came out so small but these are my new boots and I love them.  Thank you Travis for letting me get them even though things are tight around here. Because of an awesome sale they were on the selling of one of my hats paid for them and that made me feel pretty good. Maybe I will even take a picture of me in them and post that at some point. 

She's Syd the kid

Today we are expecting Stormy as company. He is more family than company, you know the kind that you don't scrub everything before they show up, but just kind of pick up a bit.

After the kids got home from school I told Sydney I wanted her to pick up the front room, that included the table, the floor, the couch, the coffee tables, the piano bench etc etc and ended the long list with "So that when daddy gets home he doesn't go nuts."

Sydney replied, "He's already nuts." I said I was going to tell on her to which she replied, "I'm just stating a fact. Mr. Coffey (her teacher) says it is important to tell the facts, and even you have to admit he's a bit nutty."

I can't wait to tell Travis, she will receive the biggest "getting" in her life.

Aric-ism or motto of the day, I am not sure which!?!

Last night the boys were playing a video game together. Aric yells, "Come on Taylor we must take the castle!!!" Taylor proceeds to ask, "Why?" Aric's response: "Because we are men!!!"

Now to Travis and I there was only one response to that aside from laughing, if you don't know what it is shame on you. If you know what it is shame on you. lol

Either was "Because we are men!!!" here it is:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Happy Anniversary

So I didn't forget to send my sister-in-law a note on her anniversary, but I didn't mention it here which is remiss of me (I blames the Australian Open I am an addicted tennis fan), I would like to wish my sister-in-law and her wonderful husband a happy anniversary. They are a very good pair, in fact I would say they are made for each.

Happy Anniversary to you both, we love you!

One big SISTER and two little BROTHERS

Do you know the problem with having a girl first? Besides the obvious of just not having any idea what to do with a boy when he comes as everything about the tiny little thing is different. While a girl knows that tip toeing while you spin makes you a ballerina, a boy instantly know the noise a car makes, that mud is a boys best friend, and if you can point it it must be a gun that goes bang. That adjustment takes many moms want to pull their hair out, but somehow you think it will get easier. Well let me tell you it doesn't/ 
I'm a little surprised that I wish that my boys were a little more boy like a times, but with an older sister that they worship everything she loves the love. Yup she has put them in dresses, painted their toe nails, put clips in their hair, etc... (all without permission and with a stern talking to after) but the boys don't care because Sydney loves them.  She wants to play baby dolls, or barbies, oh course if sissy wants to do it then it must be to cool to pass up.
Why am I ranting about this? Well it could be because I am laying down with my two boys for a bit of movie time so that Sydney can have some daddy time. What movie did my two little boys pick out?????
That's right I'm laying here watching a Tinkerbell movie with a 6 year old and a 3 year old BOY. Sometimes I think a little Dirty Harry might not hurt them at all. ;-)

Monday, January 14, 2013


So for the first time in to long I made it out to a meeting.  It took a lot to get there and we only staid for the C.O.'s public talk, but I was there. Hurray.

He had so many wonderful points but there was a scripture he shared about falling over and over again (7 times I believe) and Jehovah helping us back up.  Of course this was in a spiritual sense but to me I couldn't help apply it to what I have been going through. How many times have I felt like I couldn't get back up mental or physically let alone spiritually?  How many times have I felt like everyone including myself would be better off if I didn't?  So this scripiture meant alot to me even if it wasn't how he was applying it.

We left right after the public talk, I came home crawled into bed and slept until nine o'clock at night. I only woke up because Sydney was in my room and had turned off the music I was listening to so she could play a game.  I ended up with all of the kids in my room putting both the boys to sleep. And then I was out again and didn't wake up until 1:45 pm today. It's is amazing to me that getting ready and leaving the house for about an hour put me out that hard, made me want to sleep and sleep like I had climbed a mountain, and maybe for my health level I did, but it was worth it.

I knew she was my daughter.

So Sydney and I finished the Hunger Games book.  There was a lot of tears and laughs, but we got through it.  The next day we went ahead and watched the movie.  We got through it without as many tears, although (SPOILER -if you haven't read or watched the movie skip to next paragraph) when Rue died there was quite a bit of sobbing.

At the end of it I had to ask if she liked to book (although edited as it was) or the movie better.  She instantly said the book. She said she liked the movie, but you got so much more of the story, understood so much more of the emotions and what the characters were going through in the book.

I knew she was my daughter!!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

She's Syd the Kid

While reading to Sydney last night we were going through a pretty tough patch about someone we cared about dieing.   Well she is sitting on the edge of my bed hugging her pillow trying not to sob as she hugs her pillow and rocks back and forth. As the roughest patch ends she goes to wipe her eyes and suddenly all I see is her feet sticking straight up off the floor and no Sydney.  She was a little closer to the edge than she thought and when she went to wipe her eyes she lost her balance and over she went. It happened so fast I didn't have time to see anything other than her legs and feet sticking straight up from the floor. Naturally as a concerned and caring mother I burst out laughing. It's okay eventually I was able to ask if she was okay, and it turns out that she was fine. Just so in shook at what had happened when I peeked over the edge of the bed and looked down at her, her little confused face only sent me into harder laughter. Ah my Sydney, there are days I wonder who's daughter she is, then at moments like this I can proudly say, she is definitely mine.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

She's Syd the kid

Yesterday we had the privelegde of having the CO come over to encourage us. After just a few minutes of time with Sydney and her above average responses and vocabulary he looked at her after about the third wow and said "How old are you?" Confused a little bit by her size versus her knowlege. Travis and I chuckled a little bit used to this and just let Sydney proudly say she was 11, which brought on another wow. 

I don't mean to pat ourselves on the back or anything here, but our daughter is super smart and we are super proud of her for it!!!!!

Aric's Dual Language Program

They have re-tested Aric and it  now shows that he is above average for his age group. The tutoring sessions have paid off and he is flying through things now.  I'm so proud of him.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Looking for information about whether or not Julia Roberts actually rode the beautiful chestnut in RUNAWAY BRIDE, I came across this.  It is a little long, but it has a lot of fun information about how these horses are trained and how well they are loved, not only by their owners but the actors/actresses that ride them.  At the end is a section on beautiful horse used for the movie Hidalgo. Any horse lover like I am will find this fascinating (I love when Hightower auditioned for Robert Redford), if you aren't into horses skip on. lol Hope you enjoy the info either way.
Hightower (1982-2008) the favorite and beloved trick horse owned and trained by Rex Peterson, died peacefully at the age of 26 on October 30, 2008 at Rex Peterson’s ranch in Tehachapi, California.
Hightower starred in dozens of films over his career, most notably as “Pilgrim” in Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer, and he was famously FedExed to the East Coast to shoot a scene with Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride.
Hightower had a heart as big as the great outdoors and will be remembered as one of the most intelligent and noble equine actors of our day.  He will be universally mourned by all who had the honor to work with him.
Rex Peterson has 35 years of experience working with a wide variety of horses, riders, and riding styles in both the movie industry and the private sector.  He is the owner of Rex Peterson Horse Training in Tehachapi, California, where he developed his world-renowned horse training clinic.  Peterson’s many film credits include All The Pretty Horses, Appaloosa, Back To The Future III, Batman Returns, Black Beauty, City Slickers, Electric Horseman, Far And Away, Geronimo: An American Legend, Hot Shots, Hidalgo, Flicka, Runaway Bride, The Patriot, The Doors, The Horse Whisperer, Three Amigos, The Black Stallion, Wild Bill, and 1941.
Anyone who wishes to share their memories and photographs of Hightower should send them to Rex Peterson (  to be included in a book, “Hightower, One in a Million.”
Tehachapi News, January 12, 2009
Long life for star horse
By: Tina Forde
A famous actor died in Tehachapi Oct. 30, 2008.
His name was Hightower. He was 26 years old.
That’s a good old age for a horse.
Among his other achievements, Hightower appeared as the ill-fated Ginger in “Black Beauty,” as the traumatized Pilgrim in “The Horse Whisperer” and as the steed who carried Julia Roberts away in “Runaway Bride.”
For that gig, he had to shoot some extra scenes after the main shooting was over. By then, Hightower was in the middle of another film in California. FedEx shipped him back to the East Coast for the additional footage.
The director and the star wouldn’t hear of using any other horse. Roberts wanted to buy him.
Rex Peterson, Hightower’s owner and trainer, lost part of his heart when Hightower died.
“He was a great, great horse,” Peterson said in an interview at his ranch in Tehachapi, where he keeps, trains and breeds about 30 horses. “If you have one great horse in a lifetime, consider yourself lucky.”
“When the going got tough, he just got better and better,” the 54-year-old trainer said. “Hightower had a presence. When the camera rolled, he knew it was there.”
By the time Hightower worked in 2004 on “Princess Diaries II” – whose director, Garry Marshall, decreed “Let’s understand this: There’s one horse on my movie set, and that’s Hightower” – Hightower would perk up like a true thespian for the cameras, but Peterson could tell it was an effort.
“He was sore in the morning. He had arthritis. He would walk up to the set like an old man and then work all day just like he was fine. He had a work ethic. He was a professional. He knew why he was there.”
“I said, ‘enough.’ I retired him after Princess Diaries II.”
Happy in Tehachapi
The unregistered chestnut racing Quarter Horse lived out his days peacefully in the company of Peterson’s other equine actors, including the pure black Justin, who still lives there among his numerous progeny, and offspring of the star of “Hidalgo.”
During his aging star’s retirement years at the Tehachapi ranch, Peterson said.
“Hightower would run with babies. He was a good babysitter.”
Hightower’s pal Justin, a Quarter Horse stallion whose registered name is Doc’s Keepin’ Time, starred in the 1994 Warner Brothers production of “Black Beauty,” wearing a wig for the white diamond between his eyes. Justin appeared in “The Horse Whisperer” as the horse Gulliver, who was killed at the beginning of the film, and performed in commercials, music videos and television, including the Family Channel’s “Black Stallion” series.
Peterson learned the hard way that Hightower, a gelding from Beaumont, Calif., was a unique animal.
“Hightower was given to me as a two-year-old,” Peterson said. “He wasn’t much when I got him. I used him for a ranch horse. We were roping (in an event) at the top of Topanga. A 2,000-pound buckin’ bull – a Brindle that had escaped — picked us up and carried us 50 to 60 feet. This horse never panicked.”
He said his friends told him, “That horse will never rope another.”
Aboard Hightower, Peterson said, “I roped another that afternoon. There was no panic in him. A couple of months later I got a call for the “Winter People (a movie).”
In that film, a horse was required to “drag a guy to death,” Peterson said.
“The other three horses burned up, dragging him mile and after mile.”
But not Hightower, Peterson said – he just kept dragging that guy better each time.
Audition for Redford
Hightower won the starring role in the “Horse Whisperer” by nailing his audition with Robert Redford.
Peterson taught Hightower to feign a charging attack, one of the actions that the injured, anti-social Pilgrim would do in the story.
“When they drop their neck and charge you, the game’s over. It’s serious,” Peterson said. “They are coming at you to hurt you. They come in low to get at the jugular.”
Redford came to Peterson’s ranch, which was in Simi Valley at the time, to look at the prospect.
At a hissing signal from Peterson and from a standing start 30 feet away, Hightower bore down on Redford, head lowered as if to attack, backing the startled actor against a fence before pulling up about a foot away from him on command.
Redford hired him on the spot.
Peterson, a native of Nebraska ranch and farm country, worked the rodeo and Wild West show circuit as a prelude to becoming a renowned trainer, performing trick riding, Roman riding, chariot racing and jousting.
While working at a spectacular Wild West show in New Jersey, Peterson became a protege of fellow Nebraskan Glenn Randall, Sr. — “the greatest horse trainer Hollywood has ever seen,” Peterson said.
Peterson’s mentor
“He did stuff with horses nobody ever did,” Peterson said of Randall – including teaching Roy Rogers’ Trigger to “empty and drain” on command before entering a children’s hospital.
“Glenn was a master horseman,” Peterson said. “When someone asked if something could be done, he said, ‘Never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done.’”
Peterson said Randall rode and trained every day.
Peterson learned from Randall how to build confidence in horses by using whips – not ever to touch the animals, but “as extensions of your hand.”
Peterson said good trainers aren’t born.
“There’s no such thing as a horse whisperer. It’s a fantasy. A fairy tale,” he said.
“There are people that spend their lives becoming great horsemen.”
Similarly, after “The Black Stallion,” he said, “Everybody wanted to buy their kid a wild horse. I would tell them, ‘Do you have a lot of life insurance on your kid?’ A horse is not a dog. It’s never your buddy or your pard. It’s never bought you a cold beer or paid the electric bill.”
Hidalgo horse tale
For “Hidalgo,” the story of a western showman (played by Viggo Mortensen) and his mustang who compete in a 3,000-mile race across northern Africa, Peterson spent seven weeks hunting for five paint mustangs to play the lead role.
The director threw the photos of the first 200 candidates on the floor, dissatisfied with them all.
Peterson finally handed over a shot of one last horse. It was a show horse and did not look anything like a mustang.
The director said, ‘This is the horse I want. Every little girl in America will fall in love with him.’”
Peterson had to find four others to match the horse, named TJ. Actor Mortensen, a superb horseman, bought him from Peterson after the filming.
As the main horse trainer on “Hidalgo,” Peterson made it clear he would tolerate no fighting among the horses.
In Morocco, he said, the men ride stallions  — no mares, no geldings, just stallions.
So the grand shot of the start of the race, featuring high-strung local Arab horses and riders, could have been chaos.
“There were 120 studs on that starting line,” he said.
At the first take, two stallions got into it. Overriding resistance from the local contractor (“But they’re my friends…”) and with full support of the director, Peterson ejected the miscreants.
He had no more trouble.
Peterson used his magic touch to train Justin for the video of British pop group Procul Harum’s song “Won’t Fade Away.” The sequence called for a horse to burst forth after being completely buried in sand. Peterson accomplished this near-impossible feat, and will not reveal the secret.
Peterson lives at his ranch with his two sons, Tyler, 18, a 2008 graduate of Tehachapi High School, and Ryan, 17, a senior at Tehachapi.
He moved to Tehachapi six years ago after the notoriety of “Hidalgo” brought too many curious visitors to his door.
Each and every horse is an individual, Peterson said, and he is hoping that one of the horses he is currently working with will be as good as Hightower.
“He will hopefully replace Hightower,” Peterson said, conceding that any newcomer probably will not have Hightower’s work ethic. “He will have to fill awfully big shoes.”
RJ, the Equine Star of “Hidalgo” moves to Millbrook:Ambassador at Large for Horse Rescue Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation at Windrock Farm
By Jeanne Chisholm with photos by EG Simson and Kathy Landman
HOLLYWOOD  A LISTER  “RJ”, the famous American paint stallion that played Hidalgo will make his East Coast debut at a benefit performance at noon on Saturday May 5th at Windrock Farm. The popular equine movie star has relocated to Millbrook and will help in bringing attention to the Horse Rescue, Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation owned and operated by horsewoman Cari
Swanson.  “Initially, like most people I was unaware of how many horses were needed to play the famous mustang for the film Hidalgo,” Swanson says.  Hollywood being what it is, five different horses were used for the demanding role. “Each morning of shooting, the horses entered the hair and make-up tent where artists armed with paintbrushes and airbrush guns created a uniform look.  The primary trick horse was RJ, one of the most expressive and charismatic of the horses recruited for the part.”
RJ was trained for the part by the legendary trainer Rex Peterson, whose movie credits include “Runaway Bride” and “The Princess Diaries 2”. A mutual friend, Margaret Hilliard, who works as a unit production manager in Hollywood and has frequently called upon Peterson’s expertise, introduced Swanson to Peterson.
“When a film script calls for the use of horses, Margaret [Hilliard] is the go-to person who makes the film happen,” Swanson says. “She looks for the best horse trainers and wranglers in the business. As the trainer for the horse scenes of each film, Peterson works closely with the director and principal actors.  His expertise allows the cast to feel confident and comfortable with the animals, enhancing their individual performances.” His film credits also include “All the Pretty Horses”, “Black Stallion”, “Electric Horseman”, “Horse Whisperer” and “Flicka. He is currently developing a reality TV series about horse stunts behind the scenes.
The film, “Hidalgo” was pegged as an “incredible true story of the greatest long-distance horse race ever run.” The story was inspired by the tale of Frank T. Hopkins, played by actor Viggo Mortensen, a Pony Express rider and his mustang invited to participate in a 3,000-mile Arabian Desert race in 1890.
The movie was produced by Hidalgo Productions and Casey Silver and directed by Joe Johnston. Actors Omar Sharif and Zuleikha Robinson were also part of the film which involved intense action not only with the horses but also leopards and a falcon.
Of the five horses Peterson eventually selected for the part, it has been reported RJ proved to be the most agile trick horse. He did however, draw the line when he refused to be covered with fabricated locusts while lying down.  Swanson, who will introduce RJ to visitors at her farm for the May 5th event, has worked with horses over many decades and been fortunate to meet interesting and unique equines. This has inspired her to begin writing a book called “Horses with Charisma.” She feels a celebrity horse will boost visibility of her book and at the same time highlight the Horse Rescue, Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation.
“Until recently RJ suffered from the common Hollywood curse of being type cast as the Hidalgo horse,” says Swanson, a United States Dressage Federation Silver Medallist and international competitor in dressage and eventing. “Many may think it ridiculous that a seven-year-old equine celebrity in Hollywood is a wash up due to typecasting. Not to worry as RJ is reinventing himself by finding a new career at Windrock Farm.”
According to Swanson, in March of 2007, Peterson drove RJ three thousand miles from Southern California to Millbrook to help raise awareness of the Horse Rescue, Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation.  “Over decades of working with horses, I’ve recognized the urgent need to help misunderstood, unsound or difficult horses find a job they’re happy performing.  If horses could speak they’d have a great deal to say and their needs would be hard to ignore,” she adds.
“It was obvious from the moment I met RJ that he was a superstar, demanding attention and respect.  His noble eye never left Peterson as he obeyed each voice and body command with lightening speed and precision. Transferring the trainer/horse connection to me is challenging at times.  Sometimes RJ takes advantage of my cues and bolts away,” say Swanson who also trains and sells dressage, jumper and event prospects.
“We’ve had several sessions where I must make it perfectly clear that I’m the boss, laying him down and sitting on top of him.   Fortunately he continues to come back to me with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face.  I think we may have designed a new trick.  This horse has a sense of humor. When I cue him to shake his head yes, he paws with the right, then the left, shakes his head no and finally sticks his tongue out yawning.  He’s warning me that we’re in transition.  I quite agree and accept this challenge.   There are several basic rules when working with trick horses.  If I remember these rules, all’s well. There’s nothing more exhilarating than a stallion rearing up over your head pawing at the sky.”

And, although RJ does not in anyway qualify as a resident of the Horse Rescue, Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation, he can bring nationwide attention to this worthwhile cause, but stay tuned. RJ’s new career is taking off, he’s currently in negotiations with a new talent agency in New York to represent him in print ads and commercials.
Horse Rescue Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation at Windrock Farm will provide a home for unwanted horses primarily but not exclusively from the horse show world or thoroughbred racing. Having successfully placed many horses in new homes, Windrock Farm in partnership with the HRRR Foundation will lead the effort to create awareness, action and support to help our equine friends. In addition the Horse Rescue, Rehabilitation and Retirement Foundation will educate individuals through clinics and lectures to help prevent horses from being mistreated or misunderstood.
About The Author: Jeanne Chisholm is the owner of Chisholm Gallery, LLC & Emporium in Pine Plains, NY specializing in Fine Sporting & Equestrian Paintings, Decorative Arts, Architectural Elements, Lavishly Illustrated Books, and many Estate Offerings.
Chisholm lives in close proximity to Windrock Farm, keeps her watchful eye on Cari Swanson & RJ, and encourages the reader to support their noble efforts.

November 2005
RJ Masterbug, the Equine Star of “Hidalgo” (Disney film, 2004) is introduced to Cari at Rex’s ranch in Southern California

Rex Peterson

The Man Behind the Reins of Hidalgo

Professional animal trainer Rex Peterson has trained horses for the movies for more than 25 years, creating some of the most exciting and complex horse action sequences ever filmed. His many credits include Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, The Horse Whisperer, The Patriot, Runaway Bride, The Ring, and Hidalgo. As he commented to American Humane while on the set of Hidalgo, “The horses are my kids and I won’t have them mistreated,” he says.

An animal-loving trainer

Peterson knows from experience that the animal/trainer bond is essential because, in filming, the animal has to ignore the camera, lights, actors, smoke, and crew and focus solely on the performance.
In filming Hidalgo, Peterson’s team of experienced trainers worked with each horse to enhance its natural talents and to match each horse with an appropriate rider. Stunts in Hidalgo required plenty of preparation and in some cases up to nine weeks of training. Shooting schedules change often in filmmaking, and the lead time Peterson had expected for one scene in which Hidalgo drags an actor out of the Wild West Show ring was pushed up.
RJ — one of the horses playing Hidalgo — had trained for this stunt, and Peterson called him “smart, powerful, and a quick learner.” Although RJ was an unbroken three-year-old when cast, Peterson recalls knowing within the first five minutes of meeting the horse that RJ was an exceptional creature.
For Hidalgo, Peterson was able to teach the lead actor to lay down a horse safely — a critical skill during filming when the trainer could not remain close to give cues and the action required significant trust between man and horse.

An American Humane kind of trainer

American Humane has found that when filming abroad the standard of animal welfare varies based on cultural beliefs, local animal welfare legislation, economics, and technological availability. During pre-production of Hidalgo in Morocco, Peterson insisted that the production adhere to American Humane’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. He also refused to use studs and demanded that all horses be in good physical condition and free of ring bit sores in their mouths.
Both American Humane and Peterson recognized that the local trainers in Morocco needed help adhering to American Humane Guidelines that call for a high standard of care, especially in the use of bits. The local horses wore severe Moroccan ring bits, which go around the horse’s lower jaw and can tear the tongue and corners of the mouth, and in some instances, even break the jaw. Peterson recommended that instead the production supply Spanish bits, which have a short shank, mild low port, and a leverage factor that helps control but is not severe. Production donated the bits to 100 of the local riders in hopes they would extol the welfare benefits of the Spanish bit to other riders.

An award-winning trainer

The American Paint Horse Association presented a special “Legendary Achievement Award” to Peterson, who accepted on behalf of himself, Walt Disney Studios, Hidalgo Director Joe Johnston, Producer Casey Silver, Actor Viggo Mortensen, and “Hidalgo.” These entertainers were credited for their brilliant and outstanding work in showcasing the beauty, talent, and versatility of the American Paint Horse breed in this epic action-adventure film.