During these uncertain times, many of us turn to the one thing that keeps us calm and happy – our horses. However, due to COVID-19 and the restrictions necessary to control the pandemic, the Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments have recommended that most equestrian facilities close their doors to boarders and owners.
What does this mean for the average horse owner in Canada? Being denied access to spaces that could potentially make social distancing a challenge is a wise decision from a public health standpoint. However, our mental health needs our horse time, or “Vitamin H” as a close friend calls it. While not an ideal substitute, but since we are all responsibility self-isolating indoors, there are a few horse films worth streaming. Some are gritty cinema worthy of awards season, others simply pull at the heart strings, but all are worth a watch. So, get comfortable, grab some snacks and enjoy!
The Rider (Prime)
This critically-acclaimed film received a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes and for good reason. Set in South Dakota, it stars real life ex-rodeo star Brady Jandreau, who suffered a near-fatal head injury bronc riding. Doctors warn him that another fall could potentially kill him. What does a cowboy do? The film uses real people to portray a dramatized version of themselves. It’s a compelling and heart-wrenching story as we watch the cowboy try and put his life back together. The harsh reality of doing so is sometimes difficult to watch, but worth every minute. A stand-out for horse folks is a scene where Jandreau backs a young horse. The director just lets the camera run, documentary style, so what we’re witnessing is the real deal.
The Mustang (iTunes)
This gorgeous and intense film tells the story of Roman (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), a tough and violent convict in Nevada who is given the opportunity to enter the state penitentiary’s wild horse rehabilitation program. Sensing a kindred spirit in the mustang, who he names Marquis, he slowly learns how to control his temper and reach out to his daughter.
Running Wild (Netflix)
In keeping with the theme of convicts and wild horses, when a socialite whose ranch is on the verge of foreclosure discovers a herd of horses on her property, she starts a rehab program for prisoners to save the ranch. Standing in her way is an animal rights activist (played with glorious villainy by Sharon Stone) who wants to shut her down and return the horses to the wild even if that means they might die of starvation.
Walk. Ride. Rodeo. (Netflix)
A female barrel racer is paralyzed after a horrific car accident and vows to return to the rodeo circuit. This heartfelt film is based on an inspiring true story of champion American rider Amberley Snyder.
Rock My Heart (Netflix)
When a young woman with a heart condition ends up being the only person an untamable racehorse will let ride it, she and the trainer forge a bond to race in a high stakes and dangerous race. The fact that the woman begins her journey unable to ride may strike the more cynical horse people as unbelievable, but the story and the characters are engaging enough to have you rooting for them at the starting gate.