Horse lovers young and old love to fantasize about equine-related travel.
For me, I have daydreamed for decades about galloping across a beach on a horse with a big stride, or picking my way through the heather on some ancient breed.
For most of us, responsible travel is on hold for the rest of 2020. Many trips have been postponed, canceled, or left stranded in our imaginations. However, we can still escape with some great horse films from around the world—no facemask, passport, or plane ticket required.
30:00 Minutes / Directed by Camille & Manolo
Part drill team, part performance art, Animaglyphes is a funky art film sure to please the escapist in all of us. In 2013, the French equestrian production company, Théâtre du Centaure (Theater of the Centaur), wanted to create a project that showed horses and other animals as reminders that we are all part of the natural world. To do this, they created Animaglyphes, massive spirals that mimic the golden ratio found throughout nature. The art was created using a line of horses, sheep, cows, and people, which then wear down a path in the ground to make the shape.
It would have been impressive enough if Théâtre du Centaure had completed the spiral once with a few dozen animals. Instead the production was massive. It features thousands of participants, including hundreds of horses of all shapes and sizes, and crosses over 600 miles and three countries, including Morocco, Italy, and France. The art installations are not just created in fields, but in mountain valleys, beaches, and busy city centers with massive crowds.
This wonderfully weird production is an excellent introduction for those new to the art film genre. Even if avant garde isn’t your thing, trying to name all of the horse breeds that trot past on the screen will make it worth 30 minutes.
65:00 minutes / Directed by Roopa Barua
Every February since the 1870s, the tea farmers of India’s Brahmaputra Valley transform into daring horsemen. They gather up the semi-feral ponies who live on an island in the middle of the Brahmaputra river, herd them onto their farms and train them. Then these planters turned jockeys walk their ponies 12 miles from their farms into Jorhat Assam and race them—bareback.
Directed by Roopa Barua, Riders of the Mist documents these hardcore horsemen over the month-long process from catching the ponies to training them to racing them to returning them to their homes. It is a beautiful portrait of not only the races themselves, but the symbiotic relationship the farmers, ruling families, and horses have with the landscape and history around them. The film is full of interviews and horsemanship, transporting viewers to a place and a culture very seldom seen by outsiders.
71 minutes / Directed by Bree von Brodsky
The small but mighty horses of the steppe are a national treasure in Mongolia. Equine motifs can be found in everything from the horsehair fiddle to the statue of Genghis Khan, so it makes sense that a long horse ride is one of the ways the Veloo Foundation raises money for its school in Ulaanbaatar.
This film follows the 2017 addition of the Gobi Gallop. During the documentary, participants ride a 435 mile round trip, in one of the toughest charity rides the equestrian world has to offer. They face the wind, weather, saddle sores, and a stomach virus that ravages the camp. Even though it is challenging, the riders sing the praises of the experience, and the wide panoramic shots of the big open steppe are the perfect way to forget we are all stuck at home.