Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Unbranded - the Movie You Need to See

If you have been in prison, in Mongolia for instance, for the last several years you may not know about Unbranded. Unbranded is a documentary style movie detailing the adventures of four young Texas cowboys. Ben Masters, Jonny Fitzsimons, Thomas Glover, and Ben Thamer who adopted and trained Bureau of Land Management Mustangs to embark on a five month, 3,000 mile pack trip from the Mexico border North through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to reach the Canadian border.

The bottom line here is that you gotta go see this movie...if you are lucky enough for it to be  in a movie house close to you.  If not, you can order the DVD version and watch it at home. It will be worth it. Last night, my wife and I drove 30 miles to town to watch Unbranded on the big screen. It was a one night deal and tickets had to be pre-sold to meet a minimum number which was no problem as the theatre was close to sold out. This is a phenomenal movie.  

Ben Masters, the instigator of this project acknowledged doing this project, in part, to bring attention to the plight of 50,000 unwanted wild horses and burros living in government-leased pens and pastures and in need of adoption. In the movie it is clear that Mustangs and Burros on public lands is a sensitive issue with people on both ends of the argument and fortunately many people in between. While there are many reasons for the plight of these wild horses and burros, including drought, wildlands fires, lack of forage, and fastly growing wild herds, the movie does not come out clearly on one side or the other, except that rapidly growing and over populated holding pens are not the ideal solution for these animals.

It is no accident that Masters chose Mustangs as his riding and packing stock. His experience from previous pack trips exposed him to the durability and reliability of Mustangs. Big boned, solid footed and with the ability to endure harsh conditions, it just likely wouldn't have been possible to complete the trip on today's highly bred performance horses.

Just from the scenery alone, this movie is worth the time. But you'll see the boys and their horses traverse some of the toughest terrain in North America; endure freezing rain and hail; chase loose horses; and likely the hardest tasks, pick cactus - Cholla in particular - out of horses. Cholla cactus is often called Jumping Cactus as it seemingly jumps out at you. In fact, of the four Cowboys explains this in the movie in a scene where one of the horses had Cholla patches stuck all over him.....and I mean ALL over him.   

This pack train just didn't start out on the Mexican border and complete the trip all by their lonesomes. They had a cameraman and support along the way, sometimes to haul off horses that received significant enough injuries where they couldn't continue, which fortunately were only two - one bowed tendon and one torn muscle.

And you'll meet Val, an old cowboy who helped out in Arizona and then again in Wyoming, and who sings a song about the trip.  Only one horse died along the way and that was from seemingly natural causes. Ben Masters said it was very sad to lose a horse, at least he died in the wild where he belonged as opposed to a holding pen.

Somewhere along the trail they picked up a burro, named Donquita. She almost stole the show. Apparently she did not pack any gear, but was along to be a camp guard in predator country.

After the completion of the ride, Ben Masters donated a horse named Luke to the Mustang Heritage Foundation, where he was auctioned for $25,000 dollars to support mustang adoptions. This will be the horse you see Ben fly fishing off of. The Mustang Heritage Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) public, charitable, nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating successful adoptions for America’s excess mustangs and burros and is the organization that hosts the Extreme Mustang Makeover competitions and Trainer Incentive Program.

If you are like me,...someone who does not like going to the movies, you should make an exception for this if there is a a screening near you. Otherwise, you'll want to buy the DVD and watch it at home. The below video is an older trailer for the project and worth watching to wet your appetite for the feature movie.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the movie, but wished they would have shown some of the Superstion Mountains. I'm from Arizona and Superstions are a place of beauty, legends and wonder. Great movie anyways