So when you're in the saddle hold tight, keep your hat on and above all, let him know who's boss.
This, at least, is how this tiny cowboy has stayed king of the rodeo for 18 years. That and his fabulous outfit of course.
From the moment he rides into the rodeo ring on the back of his border collie, Whiplash the capuchin monkey is the star of the show.
With the help of his trusty steed, he rounds up a flock of startled sheep. Then there's the crowd's favourite 'hi-ho silver' moment when the collie becomes a bucking bronco and Whiplash rides tall in the saddle.
Well, as tall as a 12in cowboy can.
His owner, Tommy Lucia, 67, dismisses claims from animal campaigners that Whiplash would be better off in the rainforests of Central or South America, his native habitat.
'I rescued him from a stinking cage in Florida when he was just a baby and I can assure you he'd let me know if life wasn't good,' he declared.
Mr Lucia and Whiplash are regulars at the rodeo in Big Spring, Texas.
But their fan base is rapidly growing. Like most 21-year-olds, Whiplash is on Facebook.
And after starring in a TV ad for a taco restaurant chain, he is also an Internet hit, being seen by millions on YouTube.
Mr Lucia says Whiplash keeps his collies on a short rein.
'The sheepdogs know their place and he curses them like he does me if they are not doing what he says,' he said.
'He's got such a strong will you never quite know what he's going to do - there's always a surprise. But he's a natural in the saddle.
'When he's done for the day he goes to our motor home for dinner. His favourite foods are pears, apples, bananas and especially strawberries.'