After my review of The Horse Dancer, I ordered Horse Camp, which in the few minutes I watched looks like it is – somewhat miraculously – even worse than The Horse Dancer. However, my library copy does not appear to have closed captioning, which helps me put together my post, so the full review is on standby barring technical difficulties.
In the meantime, I thought I’d talk about Horse Movies (yes I feel like this is a category and therefore due capitalization) that I actually recommend. This post is for documentaries. I’ll do a follow up post about fiction movies tomorrow.
This movie won a bunch of awards after it debuted at Sundance and was shown nationally in theaters so it’s probably familiar to anyone reading this blog. I love documentaries and this is a good one even outside of the horses. Buck’s personally story is both interesting and sad. His history and the history of how horses were trained in the past is juxtaposed with his modern day clinics and the stories that emerge from there. This is one of those movies that horse people can watch and not wince at fake horse movie tropes. Buck is a true horseman and the film is clearly made by people who actually understand horses as well.
This is another award winning film that’s market extends well beyond the usual horse lover audience. It’s the story of 4 guys who adopt 12 Mustangs and ride them from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. I first saw this film 2+ years ago, and I still have conflicting feelings about it. The four guys are a bit of typical rough neck cowboys and some of the Mustangs get injured due to their stupidity. And I’m not okay with that. But they do try to take good care of the horses and there are moments where you can tell they truly care for the horses. The director and leader in the film, Ben Masters, has gone on to write about Mustangs for National Geographic and he truly seems to be an advocate for Mustangs. Finally, if for nothing else, watch this movie for the cinematography. I don’t think you can finish this film without wishing you could quit your job tomorrow and ride through the American west.
Although I do think the book is better than the movie, the movie is still quite enjoyable. It’s a little cheesy with some of the interviews and storytelling. They certainly play up the poor guy with his cheap plow horse beating out the rich people angle, but at least it’s true. Watching actual footage of Harry and Snowman competing and winning and then swimming with the kids is really enjoyable. Hearing Harry’s voice break when he talks about Snowman is a kick in the gut. I’d highly recommend reading the book first. Either way, go into this movie knowing it’s going to hit you in the feels.
I don’t know why 2 out of the 4 movies I have to recommend here are about Mustangs, but if I had to guess it’s part because Mustangs capture the heart of Americans as a whole and not just horse lovers so more movies get made about them. Or maybe it’s because I’m drawn to these movies? Wild Horse, Wild Ride is a documentary following trainers as they train Mustangs for Extreme Mustang Makeover. Some of the trainers are better than others. And I don’t just mean in terms of training ability. There are trainers who achieve amazing things with their Mustangs in 90 days and still make me want to punch them in the face. There are also amateurs that do a great job. Others make you want to cover your eyes and hope they don’t get injured. This documentary can be a little hard to watch because of those issues, but I still enjoyed it. It certainly inspires me to want to try to train a Mustang from scratch one day.
As of today, the first three are available on Netflix, the last is on Youtube or Amazon. Have you seen any of these movies? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll check them out (none of the links here are affiliate links and I get nothing for writing this post; I just genuinely like these movies). Do you have any other horse documentaries to recommend? Let me know. I am always looking for something new to watch.