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"There's the scene where I'm at the camp before the start of the race in Arabia and I get up in the morning, crack my neck and go over to put my hat on a peg and I'm washing my face."

In that scene, Mortensen explained, Hidalgo is supposed to pick up the hat with his mouth and bring it over to Hopkins. "It's as if he's supposed to be saying, 'Let's get out of here,' " Mortensen said. A Paint named RJ Masterbug was trained to perform the task. He actually learned to pick up the hat, shake it and hand it to Mortensen. During the shoot, however, the directors wanted a close-up of the horse. Since TJ was the horse used for tight shots, it looked like another long round of training exercises for head wrangler Rex Peterson.

"TJ had been standing there the whole time, quietly, just watching Rex work with RJ. So, when they wanted this close-up, I said, 'Well, let's just try it,' and we brought TJ in. The first time, TJ picks up the hat, gently holds it, and looks me right in the eye. Every take! I mean that was amazing."


American Paint Horses ride into hearts of leading Hollywood actor and screenwriter
Alpha.com, Mar '04

Crack his what? )

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