Timing is everything. When I learned that the Port Townsend Film Festival was selecting the film Unbranded as a Feature Documentary, and was invited to consider sponsorship of the film, my heart skipped a beat. I had heard of the four young men just out of their formal education taking and training previously wild mustangs for a trek across some of the most difficult terrain from Mexico to Canada. I was aware of the local chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington (Buckhorn Range Chapter) and other individuals that had been involved in the Kickstarter campaign. Not having seen the film (which had not yet had its theatrical release), I needed to be clear that the management, intention, and methods used were not abusive to the horse.
I was allowed to preview the film, and was so touched with the true unity it showed of the horse-human partners, it was a big thumbs up on many levels.
Difficult moments occurred for those young cowboys and their recently-wild horses. The depth of trust and confidence between the horses and humans was awesome and inspiring. That trust became the connection, or the glue that held it all together through the most difficult challenges. True connection showed itself again and again in the lighter more playful moments as well.
Some of the terrain and difficulties they faced were beyond what you would imagine putting a horse through. Yet, in the wild, and in survival mode, you work with what you have and do the best you can. Often, we are better for it. Clearly, the mustang showed itself to be a worthy partner for such a high ideal. My leggy thoroughbred would not have had the same capacity.
These horses were asked, supported, and understood in the work they were doing. They showed themselves to be the perfect partners for such a daring feat. Hats off to the Unbranded crew and their faithful steeds. Perhaps as a result, we will see more mustang adoptions, and people allowing the horse to do the work they are asked to do. One possible outlet could be Western Dressage. More to come on that when the timing, once again, is right.