Books and Film

Watching Movies With Horse People

I was in one of the Wrigley Media Group theaters at the EQUUS Film and Arts Festival over the weekend, watching a set of shorts when from somewhere in the seats behind me came a voice:

“Wow, that untouchable, wild horse sure does look awful clean.”

Later as another film played, someone else piped up, “Dang, look at the feet on that thing.”

Then during a short film Saving Chayah, swear words bounced through the audience when the rider recounts how the first day she worked the rescue Arabian by the same name, he gave her a black eye.

I, too, couldn’t help myself from voicing my occasional opinion. When professional show jumping rider Susan Artes and one of her horses, perfectly executed an exceptionally large fence in the film Carry the Hand, I turned enthusiastically to my friend and chirped: “Look at her leg, it never moves. That is amazing!”

As the silhouette of a cowhand headed off into the rabbit brush to look for a rattler who had bitten a horse in Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait, I asked my buddy, “Do you think people who have never been on a farm know what the shovel is for?”

She turned to me in the dark. “Probably not.”

She teared up during a short about Miniature therapy Horses who go into hospice units at a hospital, called The Animal Human Connection at Soul Harbor Ranch. I cried over the delicate movement of a horse and trainer during The Dance.

Being a horse enthusiast of any kind tends to drum up a lot of feelings while viewing any film with an equine in it. We notice who can ride well and who has been replaced with a stunt double. We crack up at romantic horseback scenes when the lovers are upstaged by a horse making an angry mare face at the other. We pay attention to tack choices, saddle position, how clean the water buckets are, what kind of trailer the horse is tied too and all kinds of minutia that doesn’t occur to the rest of the world.

Once while watching Interview with a Vampire with a group of friends one Halloween, I loudly proclaimed. “Wow, Brad Pitt CANNOT ride.”

A groan sounded through the living room. “Gee, Gretch, do you ever stop?”

Participating in the EEQUUS Film and Arts Festival was a gift. Partially because I got to flex the artistic part of me and hang out with filmmakers, authors, and artists, but the real magic was that I got to watch films about the animals I love in a room full of other horse mad individuals.

The horsey humans in those theaters at Lexington Kentucky were as varied as the breeds of horses they loved. There were construction workers from Long Island who rode on the weekend, there were R&B artists who loved Mustangs, a director who had spent more than 20 years in the military before making films, and people from every discipline imaginable. Getting to be around them was an honor and getting to watch films with them a reminder: if you are passionate about horses, you can always find a friend.

Check out EQUUS Film Channel, your All Access Pass to the best horse films on the Web!