Monday, December 28, 2015

Unbranded

I've seen references to the movie, Unbranded, floating around on my Facebook feed for while now.  I didn't really know what it was about until yet another post about it showed up on my newsfeed today, and I realized it involved wild horses.  I have to admit that I was curious at that point, especially because I'm 95% certain that a wild horse adoption is in my reasonably near future.

I did a quick internet search and discovered that the movie was available on both iTunes and Netflix (or you can buy a physical copy from the film website linked above or Amazon or probably other places too).  I went ahead and watched it on Netflix because I had a brief interlude when nobody was in the house.  I really didn't have 2 hours to commit to watching a movie, but I'm glad I did.

If you haven't heard of the movie, it is essentially a documentary that follows four 20-something guys who decide to adopt some mustangs, train them for 4 months, and then ride for 3,000 miles from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.  With that plot, it could easily have been called "Sheer Stupidity" or "Dumb Things College-Age Guys Do."

However, the leader of this journey, Ben Masters, seems pretty serious about it, and it turns out that he spent a long time planning the route.  He also says that he wanted to make the film to help direct public attention to the plight of the mustangs, 50,000 of which are currently being held in captivity.  The movie is actually an intertwining of the journey of these four young men and information from both sides of the "What Should We Do with the Wild Horses?" debate.

It's a debate that interests me very much and one that I've kept tabs on since I first did a speech to persuade during high school for my Speech Club competitions (I managed to get 6th place at the State Championship meet).  My thoughts have changed a little over the years, but I will whole-heartedly and without reservation admit that I'm firmly on the side of the wild horses.  I know that the issue is probably more than black and white to some people and that the vast majority of people can't be bothered to care much, but how we manage wildlife of any species on public land should really be something that matters to everyone. 

For those that don't know, there is a Federal law called the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 1971 that protects wild horses and burros on public lands.  This act also allows for the removal of "excess" animals, which are to be adopted out or humanely euthanized.  There is no provision for the continued care of the horses in private or public feedlots, which according to the movie, costs taxpayers $43 million a year.  (I do think later legislation does allow the confinement, but it was definitely not contemplated that so many horses would be considered "excess.")  Additional controversy can be found in what is considered the appropriate number of wild horses in any given area.  Ranchers who have purchased grazing rights for their cattle and other livestock believe that their animals should have a priority for grazing and horses who interfere with the grazing should be removed.  Wild horse advocates say that the target number of wild horses is too low and that any overstocking issues could be resolved by revoking or limiting grazing permits. 

The movie does a halfway decent job of presenting both points of view, but I would say that the BLM's arguments (supported by a veterinarian/rancher) are given greater weight.  And why wouldn't they be?  The BLM is the expert, right?  Crackpot activists like The Cloud Foundation can't possibly have a better understanding of how the land should be managed because they are too soft-hearted about the beautiful mustangs to know any better.  In case you missed it, that last sentence was totally sarcastic.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I donate regularly to The Cloud Foundation, which is an organization about as far from extreme and crackpot as I can imagine.  They are very respectful and encourage others to be as well and they spend a lot of resources educating people in addition to routinely filing lawsuits and even winning against government agencies, which is not something easily done.  And even if you're not into the advocacy thing, you need to watch the documentaries that filmmaker Ginger Kathrens did about the mustang stallion, Cloud, who is the namesake of the foundation.)

The thing is, I've been a Federal employee for a long time, since May 1999.  I've worked for two different agencies, and I've worn a lot of different hats.  I've been through multiple investigations conducted by the Office of Inspector General (an internal auditor something like the hated Internal Affairs of police departments, I suppose) and I've survived multiple administrations.  One thing that has always been consistent is how little most managers and political appointees know about how to run an agency (including complying with applicable laws and regulations), how little common sense they possess, and how much they like to use power and threats to ensure compliance with their wishes from their underlings.  That is not really an environment conducive to fostering positive outcomes.  Instead, all kinds of nonsense and even illegal behavior results. 

In an ideal world, OIG would swoop in (either in response to a whistle-blower complaint or just because they like to keep an eye on things) and identify the problems and taxpayers and Congress would be upset and browbeat the Federal agencies into behaving.  In reality, OIG reports are typically watered-down versions of the actual situation because the Federal agency weighs in prior to the publication of the report.  (How much of an effect the agency has can vary, but the fact that there is the possibility of influence over the final public report should tell you something about how clean and transparent the process is.)  Plus, most Federal employees are reluctant to report suspected wrongdoing because OIG either doesn't investigate the complaint or they will pay a price in terms of career advancement because the whistle-blower protection doesn't really help provide that much protection unless you're willing to spend several years in court after you lose your job.

If you do keep track of such things, though, you might remember that OIG recently issued a report on an investigation they did of BLM's wild horse adoption program.  Essentially, the investigation found that a buyer named Tom Davis sold about 1,700 "adopted" mustangs for slaughter, despite more than one law that forbids it.  And they found that the BLM was likely complicit in the activity.  Additionally, at least one veterinarian failed to properly inspect horses crossing state lines, which allowed lots and lots of freeze-branded mustangs to be shipped down to Mexico from Colorado for slaughter.  And finally, there was a potential relationship between Tom Davis and then Secretary of the Interior (the Federal Department in which the BLM resides), Ken Salazar.  Interestingly, the report indicates that the investigators backed off of that potential conflict of interest.  So, basically, a bunch of people had to be either really incompetent or directly conspiring with each other to break a Federal law.  No criminal charges were filed.

I bring this report up in hopes that I can back up my argument above that Federal agencies should not really be trusted to follow the law, or do the right thing or the best thing or to use common sense or to have compassion or even to be respectful of what Congress has labelled, "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West."  Of course, perhaps the BLM could be forgiven for its desperate strategy to figure out how to get rid of the 50,000 horses it has in its care.  They cost a lot of money, they require a lot of effort to care for, and they are a constant reminder of how failed our strategy is for managing wild horses.  I guess it's better to dump the horses in feedlots than to humanely destroy them as the law requires?

Please understand that I think wild horses are among the most beautiful animals in the world.  I'll never forget when I first saw one of the Cloud documentaries and there was this magnificent palomino stallion who was unbelievably fit all without being shod or taking dressage lessons or eating grain.  He was confident and brilliant and I sobbed uncontrollably when the helicopters came to chase him down.  That horse and those like him are wild animals that become broken in confinement.  It is no different than putting humans in concentration camps.  To be honest, I'd rather see the wild horses slaughtered (or humanely destroyed) than see them stuck in pens for years.  At least the slaughter would be a quicker death.  And while I think the adoption program has merit, with so many horses, I can't imagine that it's easy to place them in good homes and I suspect that most people, even people who've owned horses for a long time, have trouble figuring out how to train them.  That said, many people, including endurance riders, swear by their mustangs, so I have hope that if I'm able to adopt one, I will achieve good results too, because the idea that I would perpetuate the misery of one of those fine animals is unbearable.

As for the carrying capacity of the land, I find it interesting that ranchers who own grazing permits are so outspoken about how the mustangs need to be kept to manageable levels.  One rancher in the movie almost brought me to tears with his description of the starving mustangs in his area as the camera focused on a skeleton in the dust.  As it turns out, later in the movie, that same rancher forcefully speaks about his frustration when he is told his grazing allowances have been reduced because the horses ate all the grass.  Apparently, he owes the bank millions (not hundreds, not thousands, not even hundreds of thousands, but millions) and how is he supposed to make his payments when his cows have nothing to eat?  I would argue that maybe he needs to find a new line of work.

While I am not uncaring about the plight of the small business owner or even business owners in general, I find it hard to be compassionate in this case.  Why?  Because the grazing occurs on public lands and the fees collected do not even begin to pay for the funds needed to manage the program.  Public lands should be used for a public purpose, not a private benefit.  While you might argue that you like to eat steak, so you get a benefit from the cattle that are fed using public lands, I would counter by saying that not everyone eats steak and of those who do, not everyone buys from ranchers who utilize the grazing permit program.  And, you're paying more than you think because you're footing the bill for the extra cost not paid for through the collection of grazing fees (as well as the maintenance of all the wild horses who get kicked out so there is grass for the cows).  So the real beneficiaries are the ranchers who get to take advantage of the program (not all ranchers can because permits are limited and there aren't public grasslands or range in every state).  That's a benefit for a pretty small group of people.

But, back to the movie.  I'll try to leave the important stuff out about the journey across the country to avoid spoilers for those who wish to watch it, but there are some very thought-provoking statements and imagery, both with respect to the mustangs and the management of public lands in general.  For example, at one point in their journey, Ben Masters points out that there is a private ranch that owns a section of land in a valley.  He contacts the ranch to see if he and his friends can ride through the ranch to avoid a 2,000 foot climb and an extra half day of riding because the ranch owns the good part of that area and the public land is the crazy rocks on a cliff.  The ranch declines to allow the riders through, so they end up doing the climb.  Of course, it is the ranch's right to restrict access, but I think Mr. Masters felt that there was a certain inequity to the way public and private lands were set up and brings up the point about which lands should be public versus private. 

Also, while there is an actual trail that supposedly goes from Mexico to Canada exclusively on public land, the trail was neither marked nor maintained and the riders had quite a few close calls as they tried to navigate their way.  It seems strange that something like that wouldn't be maintained because I can imagine that there are others out there who are slightly less adventurous who might want to hike or ride portions of the trail.  And they would probably pay money to do it...

Finally, I think the movie made me realize how differently I would approach training a mustang.  These horses were captured, hung out for awhile at a holding facility, were shipped with a bunch of other horses to a training facility where they got 30 days of cowboy breaking, then were trailered to the ranch where the riders would put another 90 days on them before being asked to go 3,000 miles over unmarked, unmaintained trails that included the Grand Canyon, leaping cactus, tunnels through mountains, crazy mud, precipices, rivers, suspension bridges, city streets (and drive-throughs), highways, forest fires, storms, and 4-wheelers that sound an awful lot like the helicopters that rounded them up in the first place.  If you want to know how ready these horses were for the ride, you'll get your answer within the first few minutes of the movie.  On the other hand, these horses did some pretty amazing things out on that trail.

Despite my misgivings about the way the mustangs were handled, it did appear that over time, they bonded with their riders and that their riders did care very much for them.  But there was a price that had to be paid for the journey and more than one horse paid it.  I think that is food for thought when it comes to assessing what we expect from our horses.

Overall, though, this movie gets 4 1/2 stars from me.  It was a compelling story with lots of drama, there was an educational/thought-provoking component, and the production quality was very high.  There was one point where all I could do was hold my breath and pray as one horse really struggled with a section of trail and there were other moments when I was screaming obscenities at the TV because of the stupidity coming out of someone's mouth.  It drew me in and had me wondering what would happen until a few minutes from the end.  So, if you get a chance to watch it, I think you'll enjoy it:)

20 comments:

  1. I'd like to hear your thoughts about private landowners hosting mustangs as a business model: http://www.rechelleunplugged.com/2011/01/ladd-drummond-in-the-news/

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    1. I wasn't able to pull up the actual news story, but I do have some thoughts:) Number one, I do occasionally enjoy Ree Drummond's blog, although I guess it's been awhile since I read it because I didn't know about the mustangs. Second, paying private land owners to take care of mustangs is probably the only way the BLM can find places to put them. Third, it's hard to know what profit means in this case. As an economist, I define profit as money that is left after all expenses, including your own labor, are deducted. Profit in that sense is rare. The intent of most businesses would be to operate at $0 profit and $0 loss, meaning they bring in at least as much revenue as they pay in expenses. That is sustainable indefinitely. However, many people define profit to mean that all expenses except for the labor of the business owner(s) are covered. So if there is no profit, that means the business owners worked for free. That is not sustainable for very long and it is often a contributing factor when a business goes under. In the Drummond case, $100K of economic profit would be obscene. And even $100K for Drummond's labor would be a lot in OK. Because I didn't see the interview or Drummond's cash flow statements, it's hard to be sure what is going on with the money, but it does give me cause for concern. Finally, what I find most troubling is that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of mustangs that need homes. Even more troubling is that they stay out west. For example, it's really hard to adopt a wild horse if you live on the East Coast. At this time, I could find no holding facilities closer than Colorado. That means a huge potential market for adopting mustangs is closed off and that there is potentially other land that could be used to keep the mustangs. However, in the end, I would rather see unadoptable mustangs humanely destroyed than to continue to pay for their care in private land. The system has become so ridiculously bloated. There are contractors to round up the horses, contractors to store the horses, and contractors to train the horses through the TIP and Extreme Makeover programs. When does it end?

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    2. I had no idea they don't make it easy to adopt a mustang from anywhere in the US.

      I had to smile when you typed 100K is an obscene profit, because it seems so negligible compared to what they are given to start (by taxpayers) and the fact that her blog brings in a million annually. Their finances are no secret apparently. Sorry you can't see the news clip - here is the link to the article: http://www.newson6.com/story/13908594/senator-tom-coburn-were-throwing-money-away

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    3. I got this link to work, lytha. I guess I don't see the amount per horse as that unreasonable. I've paid over $700 a month to board one horse in this area (and that place didn't even come with an indoor arena!), so a few dollars a day seems pretty cheap to me. And it isn't just supplemental hay and minerals that need to be paid for. The landowner has to recoup the cost of the land over time as well as cover fencing and taxes and labor. What bothers me is that they took the horses off the range so that more cattle in Nevada (or another western state) could graze there. So we pay to keep horses in OK that could have been kept for free and now some ranchers get super cheap grazing. Typical government....

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  2. Yes that is a totally awesome movie! I was so fortunate that I got to see the early premier of the movie on the big screen in Missoula at the International Equine Film Festival this fall and the producer was on hand to answer questions. Plus a good portion of the movie features country in my backyard here in Montana so I obviously loved that. BTW, we are still talking about why that one guy did what he did right at the end (I won't say what it is because I don't want to spoil it for folks who haven't seen it but I bet you know what I mean.) Haha, I worked for the BLM for 22 years; I bailed and went to the Forest Service about 2 years ago. One of my primary jobs was working with range issues, grazing leases, the ecological condition of the range, etc. Do not ever get me started on the fact that the fee private ranchers pay to for an an animal unit month (eg, the fee for a cow-calf pair to graze on publicly held land) for a month costs about as much as it would cost to own a hamster or a canary. When I bailed to the Forest Service, it was primarily because I could no longer take dealing with range management issues. The stress was ruining my health. As far as the health and sustainability of public rangeland and the number of horses or cows it can support- I been on the ground and seen for myself the lack of forage due to over-utilization by both horses and cows (and other things; now add climate change to that)...and while I agree that the BLM (like all federal and non-federal agencies) contains lazy and unscrupulous/uncaring folks, I have also seen and worked with BLM folks who are struggling and giving their life's blood so to speak to try to figure out what to do with the piles and piles of excess horses...no one seems to want to adopt them, and they just keep piling up. As a side note, when our new place is finished and the fencing is in, my partner and I are planning on adopting two. It has been a dream for a long time and seeing that film rekindled my desire to do it. The trainer I take riding lessons from usually goes to Nevada every couple of years and brings back several mustangs and helps local folks gentle and train them, ensuring they are successful over the long term. :-)

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    1. Yes, the ending was interesting, Jo:) I kind of understand why he did it, although it wouldn't have been my choice and Iget why the other guy was so mad. But in the end, I think it shows that true achievement is defined by each individual and that everyone's journey is his own.

      I can't even imagine what you must have gone through at the BLM. I'm glad you made it out, although I know the FS has issues too:) And I didn't mean to say that all BLM folks are lazy or incompetent. I was thinking more of the management level and political appointees. I've often thought about getting a job at BLM because I care so much about the mustangs and I do have an ag background but I wouldn't last five minutes before I got fired, I'm sure.

      And yes, I think I saw that the grazing permit is a whopping $1.69/au right now. For anyone to complain when they take advantage of that is insane.

      I remember one part of the movie where the BLM guy talks about how the horses can't migrate like they normally might to find new pastures because of all the land and fences in their way. It was actually a good point and it just makes me sad because while I'm not crazy about government intervention, coordinating migration paths for horses (and other animals) seems like a good purpose for a Federal agency. Because once land is overgrazed, it is hard for it to recover.

      I'm so excited you're planning on getting mustangs too! We ARE leading parallel lives:) Can't wait to hear how it goes!

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    2. Hey one last thing, if you haven't seen the documentary (Available on google play and amazon) "Wild Horse Wild Ride," it is AWESOME. Here's the trailer on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYr0YozIcoQ It features folks who adopt a horse and train them for the "Extreme Mustang Makeover." One of the trainers works with the mustang to do dressage! I had to use a pile of kleenexes when I watched this movie (well, okay, that's not saying a whole lot because I use piles of kleenexes all the time for stuff). Anyway, another great and very inspiring movie about people and mustangs!

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    3. A couple people have recommended that movie to me, Jo. I'll definitely have to watch it!

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  3. First -- OOOOOH! A MUSTANG! Nimo's getting a mustang! (I mean, you're getting a mustang...but Nimo needs a buddy when he moves to his new digs! lol) HOW EXCITING!

    Second -- My biggest question/issue with mustangs is from a biologist POV in today's world of very limited public land / wildland availability (a human-created issue, I'm aware): What is the best way to maintain population growth?

    I don't have the answer. I work for the DOI and I know they don't have the answer, at least not one they're willing to share/implement. But I do know how limited public lands/wildlands are. I do know how much "control" we have created upon the ecosystem in this country so far as natural predators go, and I want to know how populations of mustangs are going to be kept at a level that is beneficial to the species, the land, and - goddamnit - humans.

    The nature of the animal is not one with a mass migration as other large herd-bound herbivores in this country partake in (mass migrations can cull individuals just due to the arduous journey). We don't hunt them for sport/game/meat/whathaveyou (hunting regulations help manage populations of game species; no, horses aren't a game species, but I'm just trying to cover my management technique bases). Large predators are at lower numbers than they once were (oh look, another human-created issue). And we don't have an unlimited area to "allow" mustangs to inhabit [anymore] (manifest destiny helped take care of that). So, how do we ("we" because we've put ourselves into this goddamn position, for shame) best keep their populations at a better carrying capacity (that also allows for proper genetic variability/diversity in the gene pool)? It's a huge question that likely does not have an easy answer. It's a sucky question in the aspect that it has to be asked/proposed, but this is life today, we created it and now we need to properly manage it for the betterment of every little living thing.

    Now, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't spent a great amount of time scouring available resources to see if others have come up with some plausible solutions. But you sound much better-versed on the subject potentially? I'm curious as to whether or not folks somewhere do have a plausible proposed management plan? I'd be interested to hear about ideas!!

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    1. You're right, Liz, to say it's a complicated issue. And it's been made more complicated by the long-term mismanagement. I think some kind of contraceptive darts are being explored right now and I don't know a lot about it. But from a human perspective, contraceptive drugs come with risks and I'm not super comfortable inflicting similar risks on wild horses. Additionally, they preclude natural selection, which may not work well for the continued hardiness of the horses, eventually giving us a new problem.

      If I were in charge, the first thing I'd do would be to phase out all grazing permits. It would have to be done over many years because of all the ranchers whose livelihood is linked to them, but using public lands for grazing just shouldn't be done.

      Second, I would consider how to rehabilitate overgrazed land. I've read some interesting articles on how horses can be used to improve desert-like land. It requires active management and movement of the horses, but there have been some really positive results. Instead of paying people to keep horses on their land, the BLM could pay people to spread straw, hay, and seed and move horses to regain grassland.

      Third, I'd recalculate the carrying capacity of the land for mustangs, elk, moose, and other animals, which would probably reduce the number of horses that need to be rounded up. I think the extreme numbers that are being rounded up may be contributing to a greater than normal population increase. One article I read explained it this way: Wild animal populations increase/decrease in response to environmental stimuli. If massive numbers of a species are culled through round-ups, it sends a biological signal to the species to reproduce at a high rate. Thus, reducing culling may result in decreased reproduction over time.

      For the current inventory of unadoptable mustangs, I would pay to have them humanely transported and slaughtered. To prohibit the killing of mustangs is a luxury we can no longer afford and keeping them alive in holding pens for 10 or 20 years is insane. It isn't good for the horses.

      Finally, I'd add holding facilities to every state so that any adoptable mustangs have a better chance at getting adopted and more animals can find homes. I'd also work with someone like Mark Rashid to develop a series of how-to gentling and training videos and books so that new mustang owners could have the help they need to form successful partnerships. Right now, the resources tend to be limited and simple and that can make it hard for a person to feel prepared to take on the responsibility.

      Humans have intervened and made a damn mess of our land and it's up to us to fix it. And public lands are a significant resource that should be used to model ecological responsibility. That means intervening as much or as little as needed. In cases where severe damage to the land has occurred, we are going to have to interfere intensively to fix things. But once the land is healed, we should be able to back off. In nature, animals starve to death and get eaten and get hurt. It seems to bother us a lot more than it bothers them.

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    2. WONDERFUL ideas. And what a great discussion this is - I love it!!!

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    3. Thanks, Liz:) And yes, the discussion is great - my readers are awesome!

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  4. Superb post and a really thoughtful discussion in the comments. I tend to agree with you - we've made a hash out of the way we manage mustangs, which is both desperately sad and just plain dumb from a practical standpoint. Thank you for posting on it. I've seen ads for the movie too; I have to go check it out.

    Let us know if/when you do get that mustang. Have you had a lot of personal interaction with them? The ones just off the range are very different from handling even basic unbroke horses.

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    1. Thanks, Amanda:) I will definitely post about any mustangs I get! I haven't had any experience with working with mustangs at all, which is why I'm trying to learn as much as I can before getting one. I'm also exploring the option of adopting one that has already been gentler through the TIP program or maybe a young one who may be a little less set in his wild ways:) But I am very aware that I will be spending a lot of time on basic stuff and I'm prepared to go as slow as needed.

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  5. I sawUnbranded last week and found it really interesting. I had a lot of the same thoughts you had although I was less charitable than you in my description of the 4 guys. I didn't like the way they treated their horses. I would love to get a mustang myself one day, but I would definitely send it out for training.

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    1. I grew up around the cowboy mentality with horses and I realized ever time, especially when I worked with 3 different young horses over the years and started my own with Nimo, that the bucking and other nonsense is the result of working too quickly. But from a ranch perspective, they just don't have years to start and train working horses, so they put them in a pressure situation and the ones that can't handle it are culled. It's a very different way of life. It's also dangerous for the rider but with the way those guys were playing around with falling and jumping off the horses, it seems like they can handle it. It wouldn't be my choice to work with horses that way, though. I'm actually looking forward to getting a young mustang and taking my time and spending a lot more effort in ground work. Riding will just come when it comes.

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  6. My go-to Mustang guy didn't like the movie at all. He basically hates the BLM and all the stupid propaganda they put out trying to defend themselves, so I understand why. And I agree with him - they are pretty corrupt. I have a lot of terrible things to say about all the awful things they do, but I won't say them all here, aside from the fact that they only really care about making money off those who lease their land for cattle. Of course they say the horses are overgrazing things and starving to death and whatnot... because that means they can justify rounding them up, knowingly sending nearly 2000 of them off to someone they know is selling them directly to Mexico, and then running millions of money-making cattle in their stead.

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    1. I can see why people who love mustangs would despise the BLM and the movie, Andrea. I have no doubt about BLM's corruption and how certain special interest groups have managed to drive mustangs to what is now likely a path to extinction unless something drastic changes. And honestly, I'd rather that there was no need to ever adopt a mustang - they belong wild and free.

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  7. I too wanted to watch the movie and when I saw in your post that it was available on Netflix I started watching it. I have still yet to finish watching it. Though the scenery was impressive, I did not like the movie at all. To me, it just seemed like a couple of college age kids who thought it would be great to take a very long trail ride adventure and film themselves to be "cool". What bothered me was the amount of mustangs they went thru who became injured etc. some of which was because of their stupidity - especially the scene when they were climbing sheer rock and that poor mustang that didn't want to go and ended up falling and sliding down the hill/rock. After that scene I couldn't keep watching. I felt bad for the mustangs. That said, I agree that keeping the mustangs in holding pens is not the solution too.

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    1. I'm sorry that you didn't like the movie, 14.1hands. I had a hard time watching the way the mustangs were trained and handled and the scene with the horse that fell on that crazy section of trail had me holding my breath and praying for his survival. I do believe, though, that they were decent guys who were young and inexperienced and made mistakes that caused two horses serious injuries. I wish I could condemn them for that, but I have to admit that I once made a mistake that caused a beloved horse to tie-up. She was OK, and I learned an important lesson. Unfortunately, a lot of experiences have to be lived before lessons can be learned, particularly with horses. If you can bring yourself to watch the rest of the movie, I think you'll see the bond between those guys and their horses. It isn't the way I would choose to live, but if it brings attention to the wild horses and creates productive discussion, then it accomplishes something.

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