I have begun the year by watching three amazing documentaries. Each one has it’s own voice, and I highly recommend each one.
BEHIND THE GATE, The Finish Line is Just the Beginning, is told by many people involved in the Thoroughbred horse racing business. The setting is Santa Anita Race Track, and those who talk about the sport are breeders, owners, jockeys, trainers, and others you will recognize that have some connection with the sport. They are telling the honest truth about the racing world and how it has evolved, not just in Santa Anita, but in the United States. You will gain a great deal about racing from this movie. It is a film by Mark Giardino and Daryle Ann Lindley Giardino who own Home Journey, a thoroughbred youngster who appears to have ‘what it takes’ to be a success in racing. They tell how it affects them, as owners, and how the many people who take care of Home Journey feel about racing and this horse – the jockey, the trainer, the vet, the gamblers and even the night watchman, who is there each night, after everyone else is gone. Joe Pesci, an Academy Award winning movie star is featured, as is Hall of Fame Trainers Bob Baffert and Ron McAnally, and many more people you will recognize. The familiar phrase, ‘It takes a village – “ can truly be said about a race horse, as well as a child. This documentary was winner of The Wrangler Award in 2014, given by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City; it was winner of Best Documentary for Movieville International Film Festival in 2013, and winner of the Alan Balily Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking in 2013.
RUNNING WILD, The True Life Story of Dayton O. Hyde. One man’s quest to save the wild mustang. Dayton Hyde is a writer, with several books he has written during his 90 years in the west. For the past 25 years he has maintained The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota on 12,000 acres of prairieland. More than 500 mustangs run wild in this area. Most have been captured and collected from wild horse roundups across the west. Hyde has a special feeling about the horse and yet he enjoys watching them live their lives free and untrained. In his earlier life he left home and went to his uncle’s ranch in Oregon. He had been named for his uncle and expected a big welcome when he arrived. Instead his uncle put him in the bunkhouse with the cowboys he hired for his ranch. They taught him a great deal. He even became a rodeo clown for a time, hired to work rodeos along-side Slim Pickens for a time. For any horselover this 93 minute movie is a must-see. The scenery alone will enthrall you.
COWBOYS IN IRELAND, a Chris Cox film, from the director of Chris Cox Horsemanship. This movie is the story of modern day cowboys who went with Jack Roddy, a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association World Champion Steer Wrestler in 1966 and 1968, to Ireland. Jack’s father’s family were farmers in Ireland, and as a young boy, Jack had the opportunity to be on their farm close to the town of Ballaghaderreen. Chris Cox, the outstanding horse trainer, plus Patrick Johnson, Buddy Simmons and Jeff Servson and Roddy, and wives, explored Ireland by starting with a visit with Roddy’s relatives still farming there. Roddy relives memories from his time spent there as a youth. The cowboys wouldn’t be cowboys if they didn’t challenge someone. Chris Cox was the lucky one they challenged to a goat roping. The group enjoyed watching the sheep dogs at work in the Irish countryside. Finally heading to Killarney, needing to experience some equine exposure, they attended the age old steeplechase. The entire trip is a testament to the tradition and solid values of the Irish people. This group of American cwboys fit right in with the Irish sensibilities.
All of these outstanding documentaries are available on line.