I watched this documentary last night on Netflix. Four recent college graduates of Texas A&M decide to do the “ultimate road trip” and ride mustangs from the Mexican boarder all the way to Canada. The trip had the added benefit of calling attention to the plight of the 50,000 wild mustangs and burros that have been a lightening rod of contention between the Bureau of Land Management and mustang activists.
The ride was funded by a Kickstarter campaign which raised $170,000. Trip coordinator Ben Masters spent two years planning the route and then raised $170,000 on Kickstarter.
The adventure starts when the boys adopt the mustangs. These are feral horses that get three months of training before they set out on the 3,000 mile journey, but they still have some kinks to work out. It is safe to say that by the end of the trip, they are pretty well broke. One was even auctioned off for charity after the event for $25,000.
The team crossed five states –Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana and traveled with a small video crew. The result was both a documentary and a book.
The cinematography is amazing. The views are spectacular and there are some trails that kept me on the edge of my sofa as hoped the horses all made it down in one piece.
According to this article in Men’s Journal, there were some scenes that didn’t make it into the film — like the time a moose charged the horses as they passed through Glacier National Park. “This angry bull moose had a temper tantrum that was comical until he charged and almost destroyed our $30,000 camera setup,” Masters says. “We scrambled up the trees.” Definitely click on the link because the photos are incredible.
But it’s not just an adventure story or beautiful scenery. There are interviews with the BLM, ranchers, veterinarians and activists. The result is deeper understanding of the problem of land management in the West — too many horses grazing year round on too little land. It’s a grim picture that will require better management by all involved (late in 2015 it was revealed that the BLM illegally sold thousands of mustangs and burros to slaughter in Mexico). It’s a terrible situation because the number of mustangs adopted every year is dropping, while at the same time the population continues to increase. I can only hope that this stunning film will help educate more people about the
In addition to the documentary, there is a book that includes photos and stories, and you can purchase photography taken on the ride. Visit www.unbranded.com for more information.