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Saturday, 15 September 2012 21:33

'Wild Horse, Wild Ride' showcases taming of mustangs

'Wild Horse, Wild Ride' showcases taming of mustangs
Written by Diane Carson
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Mythologized or demonized, mustangs embody a reality different from many illusory representations. Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus' documentary Wild Horse, Wild Ride details one fascinating chapter for several mustangs as individual trainers, professionals and amateurs, take responsibility for one of the horses rounded up on public land. All individuals have 100 days to tame their mustang.

After three months of hard work, the men and women compete as part of the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas, to decide who did the best job. Anyone who recognizes the difficulty of breaking and training any horse will come away very impressed with the accomplishments of the nine individuals followed. As a horse owner myself, I'm in awe of the quick progress of the horses, a credit to the commitment of the responsible trainers.

Wild Horse, Wild Ride begins with the roundup of hundreds of mustangs and proceeds into the film's first hour presenting the alternately humorous, scary, and poignant attempts of the determined trainers to gain these wild animals' trust and obedience. Featured is a diverse group: a Navajo man and his son, a middle-aged wife and husband, two young men starting their own horse care business, and one grating woman with talent but no humility. Interestingly, the personalities of the horses differ as much as those of the humans. The last section of the film features excerpts from the amazing two-day competition, with the culmination of the event the auction as lasting homes are sought. Some trainers can not afford to buy their now lovely horses, and tears flow - theirs and mine.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover chronicled here took place in 2009; the Makeover program that began in 2007 now occurs yearly across the U.S. as equine lovers strive to find homes for the thousands of horses regularly rounded up, a highly controversial practice that the husband-and-wife directing team totally ignore. Fair enough, but Wild Horse, Wild Ride does suffer from some jagged, sloppy editing; a lack of explanation on some crucial details of training and judging; and an uneven cobbling together of training moments. Still the horses and those who love them will find much to love. At Landmark's Tivoli Theatre for one week only, through September 27th.

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