From the open runs of wild horses on the range, to the muscle and skill of working ranch horses, to a gentle nudge from a therapy horse, PBS takes viewers on an emotional journey on horseback through the American West.
Horses of the West: America's Love Story, airing ---------------------- on ------------, celebrates the remarkable relationship of horses and the humans who love them. Narrated by actress Ali MacGraw, the film offers a broad overview of the many different roles of horses in the American West.
In Gunnison, Utah, state prison inmates work to gentle and train wild horses so they can be offered for adoption. Kerry Despain, who runs the prison's wild horse program, says the relationship is as beneficial for the men as for the horses they train. For inmate Richard Evans, the horses provide a sense of freedom "kind of akin to flying. I just love galloping and feeling the wind. I feel like being around the horses has calmed me down as a person, has taken an edge off me."
Not surprisingly, the inmates become so attached to the horses that it can be emotionally hard on them when the animals are actually adopted. "It's your best bud and it just kind of hurts your feelings when he leaves and you're kind of a little heart broke," says inmate Waylon Riddle. "You gain a relationship, a bond with that horse and he's gone."
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary near Kanab, Utah rescues horses whose owners no longer consider them "useful." Jake, a thoroughbred the sanctuary rescued, went on to have a career as a ranch horse. "Lady" was rescued from a grim fate in a slaughterhouse.
While the prison's wild horse program and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary rescue horses, Horses of the West shows how horses can rescue and heal humans. The film tells the story of two special wild horses at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. Shelby was a two-year old Cedar Mountain mustang the center adopted as a colt. Fly, another mustang, was rescued at the same time as a friend for Shelby. Both are ideally suited for their role as therapy animals. "If their participant has a disability, they're able to pick up on that and understand what kind of needs that person might have, "says the center's Abby Ferrin. Hippotherapy, which uses the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy, improves muscle tone, balance, coordination, motor development and emotional well being. Sarah Barber is one of the children profiled. "I say in a lot of ways he (the horse) rescued her," says Sarah's mother, Jenifer.
KUED-Salt Lake City
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