Brego in Lord of the Rings
It's actually a little confusing to talk about "Brego in Lord of the Rings," since Brego the horse is a character created purely for the films. For that matter, the whole side story described below, about Aragorn's injury and presumed death while fighting warg-mounted Orcs on the way to Helm's Deep, is a creation of the screenwriters.
I'm not sure why Peter Jackson decided he needed to add a side story about a horse. Goodness knows he had enough material! But it was enjoyable for those of us who think that most outdoor scenes can be improved with the addition of a horse. I've posted several video clips showing the scenes described here, see links at the bottom of this page.
Brego the Builder
In Tolkien's books, Brego was an early king of Rohan, son of Eorl the Young. He lived from 2512 to 2570, and served as the second King of the Mark. He was best known as the builder of the golden hall at Edoras. (The hall itself was called "Meduseld.")
From Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: "He drove the enemy out of the Wold, and Rohan was not attacked again for many years. In 2569 he completed the great hall of Meduseld. At the feast his son Baldor vowed that he would tread 'the Paths of the Dead' and did not return. Brego died of grief the next year." Brego was buried in the Barrowfield with Eorl the Young and all the Lords of the Mark who followed him. After Brego's death, his son Aldor the Old assumed the throne and ruled for 75 years.
References - Brego the Builder
Edoras Movie Set - Photographs and a description of the challenges in building the Edoras movie set, including the Golden Hall of Meduseld.
Brego the Horse
In the exended DVD version of the Two Towers film, but not in the books, Brego is the name of a dark bay horse that belonged to Theoden's son Théodred. After Théodred's death, Brego became wild and unmanageable. When Aragorn sees Brego in distress in the stables at Edoras, he speaks to him in Rohirric, calming him, and then says to Éowyn, "Turn this fellow free. He has seen enough of war."
Later, on the march to Helm's Deep, Aragorn is injured fighting Orcs on wargs, falls off a cliff into a river, and is carried downstream. Brego, evidently wandering the Mark wearing a halter and rope, comes to the wounded Aragorn. (There is a hint that perhaps Arwen telepathically contacted Brego to send him on this mission.) He lies down on the beach next to Aragorn so he can climb onto Brego's back, and carries him the rest of the way to Helm's Deep.
As a one-time horse-owner, this later scene has a lot of resonance for me, and some dissonance as well. When I was a child I would go out to the pasture where my pony was lying, and give him carrots and climb on his back. He would then stand up and we would trot off, sans bridle and saddle. If I were to lie in the grass myself he would be almost certain to nuzzle my face the way that Brego did with Aragorn lying on the beach.
The dissonance lies only in the idea that any decent horseman would turn a horse loose on the plains wearing a halter and lead rope, which could easily get hung up in a tree or bush and cause the animal grave injury. But yes I do know this is a movie, and I really did enjoy this scene.
The horse who played Brego is a warmblood stallion named Uraeus, a former FEI dressage horse trained by the top international trainer Lockie Richards. (See photo of Uraeus in dressage competition, left.) The horse was at the end of his competitive career. "It all happened in five minutes," says Lockie. "They rang me and said they wanted a stallion. I told them if they could get him on their truck, they could try him, but that he absolutely won't go on a trailer and he's only been on my truck in the past ten years." Uraeus went on the truck and worked out well despite having never been ridden bareback before. Although actor Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn, had ridden since childhood, he took riding lessons to learn to properly handle the highly-trained stallion.
Viggo became attached to Uraeus, and after the movies were finished, he bought him. Although it has been reported (including here on this page) that Uraeus now lives on Viggo's ranch in Idaho, in fact he is still in New Zealand with Kenny, the horse who played Hasufel. See this article from 22-Mar-04, Viggo Mortensen in Munich, for the correction, and thanks to Trilby for pointing it out.
Notice in the dressage photograph that Uraeus has three white socks: on the right fore and both hind legs. In the movie Brego has socks only in the rear so they evidently blacked out his front sock. I can only guess that either the front sock was distracting in the close-ups next to Viggo's face, or perhaps they had a double for Brego with rear socks only.
Articles about Brego & Uraeus
Hail to the King - Starburst #305, December 2003
IGN FilmForce interviews Viggo Mortensen - IGN FilmForce, March 3, 2004
Brego - Links to More Information
Aragorn and Brego Action Figure Review - Detailed review of the sculpting of the articulated action figure of "Aragorn and Brego" from The Two Towers.
Aragorn's words to Brego - A translation of the words spoken by Aragorn to Brego in the stable, when he quiets the horse. It would be easy to assume that he speaks Elvish, since Eowyn comments on his Elvish roots, but this site indicates that the language is Rohirric, a medieval Anglo-Saxon tongue. Note an alternate translation here. See also The Gray Havens for more information about Rohirric. Thanks, Manephelien, for suggesting these links!
Brego - Video Clips from Two Towers
These YouTube video clips were taken from the extended DVD version of The Two Towers. I encourage you to purchase the extended DVD or Blu-ray discs if you haven't already.
11. Brego in the stable at Edoras - The first meeting of Aragorn and Brego, in which he soothes the restless beast with Rohirric sweet talk. Eowyn is entranced as well. (01'41)
16. Brego to the rescue - Brego finds a wounded Aragorn lying alongside the river, awakens him with a horsey smooch, and lies down so that Aragorn can mount. Together they head for Helm's Deep. (00'47)
Brego Gallery - Toys & Toons