There are an estimated 32,000 wild horses roaming public territory in the American Southwest. And every four months, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management rounds up some of these feral mustangs and transfers them to a prison in Canon City, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
Their next stop: the Wild Horse Inmate Program.
The Wild Horse Redemption, which debuted to acclaim at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, is a moving look at this innovative and successful program, whose double-edged purpose is to rehabilitate both horse and inmate. Under watch by professional trainers, 40 dangerous inmates are matched with mustangs for the purpose of training the animals for border patrol and other government service. They have 90 days to get their job done.
Many of the inmates have never even ridden a horse, much less tried to train a wild one. It is a taxing and hazardous assignment that teaches patience and empathy, and prepares both horse and trainer for life outside the “corral.”
That life outside is an integral part of the picture in The Wild Horse Redemption. The intensely personal film introduces us to all-too-human characters like Anthony Edwards, the head inmate trainer who is released to the outside world, armed with the insights he’s gained into reining in behaviour. His replacement, Jon Peterson, enters the job in a trial by fire, with the incorrigible “Samson” as his four-legged trainee. And we meet the fearful Clay, who must tame his own demons en route to taming his horse.
Danger constantly lurks. “”These mustangs, you pressure them too much and they can’t handle it. They are either going to be trying to jump out of the pen or they are going to turn and try and fight,” says staff trainer Guy McEnulty
Directed by the legendary John Zaritsky, whose sizable body of high-profile work includes the Oscar-winning feature documentary Just Another Missing Kid and the star-studded African famine relief video Tears Are Not Enough, and of course The Suicide Tourist, which has garnered massive attention worldwide with John’s unprecedented access to the process of legal euthanasia.
About Director John Zaritsky
Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, John studied at the University of Toronto. He began his career as a newspaper reporter. He has directed numerous documentaries that have won awards internationally. His feature-length films include Just Another Missing Kid (82) which won the Academy Award for best feature documentary, I’ll Get There (85) Tears Are Not Enough (85) Broken Promises (89) Born In Africa (90) My Doctor, My Lover (91) Choosing Death (93) Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo (94) Murder on Abortion Row (96) Extraordinary People (99) Ski Bums (02) College Days, College Nights (05) The Suicide Tourist (07) and The Wild Horse Redemption.
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