“Wild Horse, Wild Ride”, produced by husband-and-wife team Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus, is a beautiful film depicting the friendship and journey of nine wild mustangs and their trainers. Each year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounds up thousands of wild horses across America, and a lucky 100 are given the opportunity to go through the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge. Trainers from all over the country, some professional, some rookies, are given a horse through a lottery, and as such, they don’t know what they are getting until they pick up their horse. The trainers get 100 days to train and gain the trust of this wild animal before meeting back in Fort Worth, Texas for the competition where the horse will be auctioned off for adoption. This well-crafted documentary follows the stories of contestants/trainers and their allotted mustang over the 100 days. The goal of the challenge, is to gentle the animals and find them good homes. Since the challenge started in 2007, 3,300 wild American mustangs have been adopted.
From the beginning of the film, it becomes clear that this is a story about friendship, struggle, patience – one for both the trainers and the mustangs. What is most captivating about the film, is how it reaches far beyond just the man and horse and captivates the human heart.
Each mustang is as unique as it’s trainer. Though the film begins lighthearted and funny, it quickly dives deeper into the unique challenges each trainer has to face with not only their horse, but their hopes, expectations, and understanding of what it means to train the Wild. The nine individuals are as broad of a collection as are the mustangs. Wylene Wilson, in particular, is a show all her own. The film also follows a Texas A&M professor that has never trained a horse, a pair of brothers that have been training horses their entire life, a Navajo man and his son, a darling older couple who’s husband fears her wife will not be able to say goodbye when the 100 days are over, and a true blue vaquero named Jesus.This is the first film for Writing-Directing team Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus. Gricus’ work as a Cinematographer shows has each seen is beautifully filmed with an almost epic quality not often found in documentaries. Dawson’s years of television writing shape the well-formed storyline such that you forget you are watching real life with real people. By the films end, you are pulling for each trainer, hoping they are able to keep the amazing horse they have poured their blood, sweat and tears into over these 100 days.
During a Q&A, after the film ended, Dawson mentioned that “Wild Horse, Wild Ride” was just picked up for distribution. So keep your eyes open as it will be showing in a theater near you. But be careful, after watching this gem, you might find yourself looking to spend 100 days training your own mustang.