The Open Door to Solitude

solitudeFirst: last week we ran a little contest regarding headwear preferences.

Thank you for participating.

Andrea Williams, you’re the winner of the Professional’s Choice splint boots. Andrea’s response was:

“Felt hat for fancy places, straw for summer but helmet whenever I ride!”

Congratulations, Andrea! Contact [email protected] with your shipping details.

Second: The Open Door to Solitude. I came across this film through a Facebook friend. Simple words, deep message. Gorgeous. A must-watch.

American Mustang

AM-Horses-in-Pen-JumpingThe subject of the management of wild horses remains a hot topic in mainstream media on both sides of the border. Here in Alberta, the provincial government’s decision to issue permits for the capture of 200 wild horses has triggered outrage and protests. In the past few days, Jann Arden added her voice and celebrity to the drive against the cull when she took to the skies with a local rancher and veterinarian to conduct her own count of the horses (the provincial government puts the population at just under 1,000, while opponents state this is an exaggerated figure).

Down south, the problem is magnified with over 32,000 wild horses roaming the rangeland, and upwards of 50,000 held in Bureau of Land and Management government holding facilities. The new film, American Mustang, examines this issue in what is described as “an artful blend of exquisite nature documentary and character-driven narrative.”

The film premiered last November to critical accolades at the Denver Film Festival, where one reviewer wrote, “His (Director Monty Miranda) breathtaking images, shot in 3-D on the open ranges of eight western states, bring us a deep appreciation for the life of the mustang running free and are juxtaposed by the Bureau of Land Management round-ups and the captivity that is often their heartbreaking reality.”

The film stars Luke and Jim Neubert, the sons of California-based cowboy and clinician Bryan Neubert, as well as Julia Putnam, Allison Eastwood (daughter of Clint), and is narrated by long-time mustang activist, Daryl Hannah. The film is the brainchild of its producer, Ellie Phipps Price, who wanted to create a film that would stir action by bringing the state of the American Mustang to the attention of the general public. Price does more than just wear the t-shirt – she has been an active and dedicated steward of wild horses for decades. In 2009, Ellie adopted 172 mustangs and has since created a sanctuary for wild horses on 2,000 acres of property in Northern California.

Out of the Wild

outofthewildcoverI’m certain many of our readers are fans of Mark Rashid‘s writing, for his books are some of our most sought sale items. So, I thought I’d share news of the project he’s currently working on. In partnership with Wild Basin Films, Rashid is hoping to raise $775,000 to fund their independent feature, Out of the Wild, a film based on the novel by Rashid.

Out of the Wild is based on actual events – the story of Henry McBride, an alcoholic, down and out, modern era cowboy who has lost everything. McBride’s self-discovery begins when a no-nonsense ranch owner with a deep love for horses, introduces him to a quieter way of training a troubled mustang, a horse whose past and temperament mirror his own. What transpires is a story of love, redemption and moving both man and horse beyond their deepest wounds to discover lives they never thought possible.

The project reached the $50,000 quickly in the first 36 hours of it’s launch Kickstarter campaign, but needs to raise a significant amount of money in the 13 days left on the campaign. Here’s a short trailer about the movie.

Silver Screen & Calgary Stampede

Silver from The Lone Ranger. Photo Credit Dainya Sapergia

To promote the new movie, The Lone Ranger, Silver – the horse from the movie – has been traveling around the country and last week, made a stop at the Calgary Stampede. I got the chance to sit down with trainer Bobby Lovgren and talk about working on the movie and working with Silver.

The handsome cast horse that plays Silver is actually named Silver in real life. He is an 11-year-old gelding, and comes from California.

Lovgren had known Silver for two years previous to starting the movie. Since he only gets three months to train and find the horses for movies, it was helpful to already have some knowledge about the horse. Silver was also the only horse on the set that had previous set experience – another positive advantage to using him.

For Lovgren this was a very different film because of Silver’s unique color. Other movies that require darker color horses tend to be easier because Lovgren can “cheat.” Meaning, the use of make-up and dyeing can be used to achieve a certain look the producers and directors are looking for in the movie.  The problem is white can’t be cheated, it shows everything like dust and dirt. This then requires almost constant bathing to maintain the color.

“If you bleach [a horse] or anything they turn yellow, so you can use very little make-up,” said Lovgren.

The attitude, and athletic ability all came second to Silver’s color. He simply needed to be white. Lovgren said the biggest challenge  for his team was keeping the horse white on set.

Both Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer had interactions with Silver. Hammer had worked with Lovgren previously on another movie and so it made his scenes with the horse much easier.

“Johnny was more worried about me and my horse than about his own acting,” said Lovgren.

During the scenes with horses, trainers are an integral part of the scene. While they do not show up in the shot, the trainer is the one cueing the horse to turn its head or rear, not the actor.

“You have to do it 30 times in a row,” related Lovgren. It all comes down to repetition for the horse.

Bobby Lovgren and Silver. Photo credit Dainya Sapergia.

I was also curious as to how Lovgren got involved in training cast horses. Originally from South Africa and working around a jumper and dressage barn that did some movies and commercials. Lovgren eventually met some Americans while working there, which led to introductions to Glenn and Corky Randal who were big cast horse trainers in Hollywood. Lovgren said it came down to him being in the “right place at the right time.”

After hundreds of baths and months of training and shooting, Silver is finished movie making for now. He has a few more appearances to promote, The Lone Ranger, he will then be going back home to California for some much needed rest. As for Bobby Lovgren, he’ll be waiting for the next call to see what movie he’ll be doing next.

By Emma Jekabson

(Western Horse Review intern)

Likes of the Week

Can it really be the last week of summer? Apparently. Among

other things, we’re busy preparing Wee for her first cutting show. It’s a bit of a crash course at this point, as so much of her time was devoted to 4H over the summer, and I’ve been busy for the past two weeks helping Teenager settle in for her first year of university studies in Arizona.

While I was away these arrived for Wee. The absolute sweetest of little-girl chaps. All flowers and swirls and just a hint of tomboy, succinctly Wee. She loves them, and Christmas has definitely come early for her at the log house. Fashioned by Heather Baumgartner of HB Leather, these are Canadian-made and perfectly gorgeous.

I have so much to post about, we have a lot going on at the magazine this fall, but for now, in these last few days of summer holidays, just sharing some links and videos you might be interested in.

If you’ve been following the Tennessee Walking Horse soring controversy, you’ll know it’s at a significant and intense head this week, as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, the equivalent of the World Show for the breed, is ongoing at Shelbyville, Tennessee. On one side, the trainers and breeders who desire the public to understand this is not as prevalent as activists such as the Humane Society of America – which released a damning undercover film on YouTube earlier this year on soring – maintain it is. Many say soring is widespread and commonplace, others state it’s the work of a few greedy industry players. One of the better articles I’ve found on the crackdown in the walking horse industry here. The video accompanying the piece is worthwhile too.

Holding in the genre of controversy, I’m still marvelling over blogger Cami Ryan’s excellent essay, Dear Pam, challenging the motivations of PETA spokesperson, Pamela Anderson. Straight shooting, and I like it.

One of the surprises we have for you readers this fall concerns photography, hence we’ve been doing a lot of research regarding the subject. I came across this and it made me yearn for a western-photography themed workshop with a parallel degree of yummy.

Something I loved discovering just lately – the Days Inn in Brandon, Manitoba  now sports western artwork in 15 of their executive suites, but not the usual uninspiring bought-at-a-box-store drudgery, but the real mccoy – Shannon Lawlor prints. Kudo’s to managers Dave and Melody Brooks for showcasing our western heritage and treating all of us who might be passing through with a gorgeous visual. I’m looking forward to checking these walls out!

Finally, another video, this one the trailer for Wild Horse, Wild Ride, has been receiving some great reviews and awards. Looking forward to seeing it.

Thanks for tuning in and have a great long weekend.

6 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Last night I invited my friend, Sheila, to the movie, Buck. It’s showing in Calgary at the Plaza Theatre through to the end of the month. I was happy to see it at a small, independent theatre – we like to support that genre, though they are sadly, fast disappearing from our landscape.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the trailer of Buck by now, it’s received a good share of publicity, but just in case you’ve been hiding under a frozen waterer, you’ll find it at the end of this post.

Sheila, not a horse owner, loved the film. As did I, and it seemed most of the audience members in the cozy theatre. It’s not a film you absolutely need to see in a theatre, but it’s always a greater experience to see a film on the big screen, isn’t it.

The movie focuses on the life and message of Buck Brannaman, a horseman we in the industry are quite familiar with, but it was nice to see his message reach outside of our circles to the larger mainstream. Buck was recently in Alberta, and we had a chance to get together with him, gathering an interview for a feature we can’t wait to share with you in the March issue of Western Horse Review. 

Buck really is about horses, but his message is quite human. Redemptive, vulnerable, forgiving. Brimming with quiet strength. Buck is a beautiful work of humanity. No great wonder he has the following he has amassed. Just this morning as I browsed my Facebook feed, I noticed a Buck quote on the Natural Leader Facebook page:

“Possess the things horses treasure – peace and comfort; and your horse will always be willing to trade with you. If you are always mindful of that, you “should” have the perfect relationship. Betray that desire and you will be low on credit with your horse.”

Always words to ponder from Buck. He’s the kind of teacher who leaves you to dwell on the questions. But then, there’s no wisdom worth having that isn’t hard won – which is, more or less, the story of his life.

I encourage you to be sure to make Buck part of your Christmas plans, whether in a theatre near you, or on DVD. That said, I’m offering up a DVD of Buck to give away this week. Fact is, I need to stockpile a few western movie suggestions for a future post, so let us know in the Comment section below, the name of a western movie you love, and we’ll enter your name into a draw to receive a DVD of Buck. Contest closes Friday, at midnight, and winner announced Monday.

Enjoy the trailer!

The Mountie Movie Ticket Giveaway

I’m back from a trip to the U.S., and more than happy to arrive on the prelude to a long weekend. I can’t wait to get out into my 10-day neglected yard and gardens, and begin the weeding, mowing, whacking and watering.

In celebration of the long weekend, we’re giving away tickets to the premier of The Mountie in three major Canadian cities: Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, it is a new Canadian film based on the story of a mountie who brings justice and peace to a lawless northern outpost. Fittingly, it’s premiering on July 1st.

We’re going to begin with the west coast and give away two tickets to the premier, showing July 1 at the Empire Granville in Vancouver. All you have to do is let us know – in the Comment section below – what you’re looking forward to doing this upcoming long weekend. Easy!

We’ll randomly choose one winner, announce his or her name tomorrow, and e-mail tickets to the lucky winner.

Contest closes tonight at midnight.

Oh, the other two cities – Winnipeg and Toronto. Watch for our giveaways to these cities tomorrow on Facebook.

In case you missed the trailer of The Mountie on our Facebook page here it is again. It looks like a cool and dark thriller, looking forward to viewing it!


In the mainstream media he is known as the man behind the scenes of the Robert Redford movie, The Horse Whisperer. In the horse world we know him as one of the greatest clinicians and teachers of our time.

After attending a Buck Brannaman clinic years ago, director Cindy Meehl was taken with the charisma of the man, and a technique that thrived on gentleness with horses.

“In four days, he taught me more about horses than anyone ever had in all the decades I’d been dealing with them. Even more compelling was watching how he could instill the feeling of power in someone when they were afraid and had given up hope, whether it was about their horse or their life.”

Buck's own story of rising above the violence of his childhood and his ability to translate his own pain and fear into an understanding of the equine mind is just as inspirational as any I'll ever know in our life.

The Sundance Film Festival is currently on in Park City, Utah, from now until January 30, and Buck is a featured documentary.

Here's a trailer for the film. If this is any indication I'd say it's a winner!

Duck You Sucker

So, last weekend, we decided to indulge in a retro Saturday night, by watching one of the collection of director Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns.

(For those of you who missed the era, Spaghetti Western is really just a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western film that emerged in the mid-1960’s and early 1970’s, so named because most were produced and directed by Italians, the most famous of which were the series of films Sergio Leone directed.)

I haven’t watched one of these films in a very long time, but last year for Christmas I gifted my boyfriend with the Sergio Leone Anthology, containing, most notably, the three movies in which Clint Eastwood starred, The Good, the Bad and the UglyA Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More, as well as the lesser known Duck, You Sucker (1971).

It was the latter we decided on.

Duck, You Sucker.


I wondered about that too. The story is Sergio was mistakenly under the impression “duck, you sucker” was a common slang saying in America. Later, the movie was renamed Fistful of Dynamite, and it’s lengthy two and a half hour span nailed down to under two hours for an American audience.

(I wish they still made movie posters like this, don’t you?)

The edit and re-title didn’t take, and the movie became a bit of a lost film.

That is, until the release of this anthology. For the first time on DVD, the fully restored English-language version of the original 157-minute Italian cut of Duck You Sucker, which was never shown in American theaters, is available for spaghetti western fans in the Sergio Leone Anthology.

And, I’ve got to tell you, I loved it.

The gist of the movie revolves around an Irish explosives expert, James Coburn, with a bad history back in his homeland, who meets up with a Mexican bandit, played by Rod Steiger. Together they become somewhat accidentally – at least on the part of the Mexican bandit – immersed in the Mexican Revolution. It is a story of race, of hardship, of friendship, and of the lessons learned in those friendships.

What with the Mexican Revolution central to the plot, the back-flashes to IRA activity, and even a crazed Nazi-resembling German thrown in, the movie is anything but historically in context.

But it matters not. The filming is ahead of it’s time, the soundtrack incredibly rich, and the story, ambitious and layered.

Don’t expect one of Eastwood’s Fistful’s with this film, but do expect a very unique Sergio Leone experience.

And, enjoy the Anthology, if you happen to find it in your stocking this holiday.

Here’s a sneak peek. . .