In-Hand Harmony

The American Mustang: Film REVIEW

by Corrine Fierkens

(We saw the film together January 23, 2014, at the Regal West Village Stadium in Golden, Colorado.)


The quality of the images was good. 3D was a trip. I found it a bit nauseating at the opening, when the montage of images were a 3D collage moving waaaay too fast across the screen. I wanted to absorb those images more, and not have motion sickness.

While the film had moments of being visually stunning, The actual content of the film was unfulfilling, for me.

Here’s what I did learn that I wasn’t fully aware of:

Currently, there are more mustangs in government holding pens than in the wild, and the BLM is blatantly squandering funds with their ineffective and inhumane “numbers management” strategies. There are sanctuaries employing better, more economical methods that preserve the animals ‘ dignity and well being as a whole and these methods are being ignored by the government.

I gathered from the film that the #1 special interest group that has contaminated the BLM are the beef ranchers who depend upon grazing/ leasing government land which is shared with mustangs. The ranchers distort the facts, claiming wild horses are “trespassing” on land that belongs to them, and that they ravage the landscape. Realistically, cows outnumber horses 50 to 1…. And as any farm girl or rancher knows…. The TRUTH about the difference in grazing habits between horses and cattle are incomparable. Domesticated Bovine species are much less forgiving to the landscape, often tearing grass out by the roots, whereas horses do not.

I feel the movie missed an opportunity to educate its audience, bullet point by bullet point, as to how to take action on the mustang’s behalf. However, it’s clear to me that there is one thing that we can all do, and help others to consider doing….. Or rather…. NOT doing.

Most people are overwhelmed by how many pressing issues surround our modern life. Signing and circulating petitions can seem moot, and contacting legislators something we can’t seem to find time for…..

But there is something we can all STOP doing that could impact this situation even more profoundly.

Discontinue consuming beef from unknown origins. That cheap beef from Walmart? Those restaurant steaks? Chances are, this beef comes from origins of questionable ethics, and possibly from cattle grazed on land that belongs to the mustangs. The ranchers and cattle are the trespassers, folks.

We live in a time when we can no longer have our cake and eat it, too. Meaning: we can’t sign petitions to save the bees and the mustangs and then continue to consume vegetables grown with pesticides that kill the bees or inexpensive beef that indirectly kills the mustangs.

We have to put our money where our heart is.

The side effect of consuming organic, ethically farmed beef means that you may have to reduce the amount that you consume, as it is more expensive. However, study after study shows that Americans consume too much red meat. In this case, your sacrifice may actually benefit your health. Proof positive that it is the right thing to do.

One last mention about the movie. There were multiple story lines/ narrators. This was ineffective. The story line involving the girl and the cowboy and the horse dubbed “Pegasus” was sickening. I understand that perhaps the film maker was trying to demonstrate that mustangs are very wild and dangerous and difficult to train even for professionals. I agree that green horse owners have no business adopting mustangs, and have personally witnessed that many of them end up in rescues with injuries both mental and physical to be rehabilitated by trainers like myself, hired by non profit rescue organizations…. Adoption Is not an ideal solution.

That said, the way the mustang was being trained in the movie- or at least the way it’s training was being “represented” in this film made me squirm in my seat even more than I did when I saw “the horse whisperer”‘a final round pen scene. I squirmed moreso because in this instance, it was being presented as reality, not glamorized for Hollywood audiences.

Not to mention, the young girl narrating this portion of the movie was just plain annoying.

I was MUCH more interested in the story of the white mountain herd and their disappearance, and frustrated every time the story line left them.

Kudos to the film maker for calling out some real enemies of the mustang. Kudos for trying to raise awareness. I’m just not sure this film makes things crystal clear to the general public.

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