The American West is an area of immense, untamed beauty. Amongst the beauty are an untold number of dangers. Three of the most iconic images that come to mind when people think of the American West are wild horses, cowboys and the challenge of the unknown. The movie Unbranded, which is being released by Gravitas Ventures, includes all of these things and so much more. Ranging in location from the United States-Mexico Border in Arizona all the way to the United States-Canadian Border in Montana, this 3,000-mile odyssey tests both man and animal and keeps the viewer fully engaged from beginning to end.
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Unbranded is the story of five college friends, Ben Masters, Thomas Glover, Jonny Fitzsimmons and Ben Thamer, who decide to make the trip from the Mexican Border north to the Canadian Border with 16 mustangs that they adopted and trained just for this purpose. In the film the viewer will learn about the mustangs and the fact that there are 50,000 of these animals being kept in pens on federal land—waiting for adoption. While this trip was intended to show the plight of the wild horses in this country and the environment that they live in, it was much more than that. It also shows the dilemma that faces the Bureau of Land Management, animal rights activists and ranchers regarding the issue of wild horses on public lands.
This film also shows the bond, based on trust, which develops between the men and their horses. There is almost a love that exists between each man and his horses. A prime example of this trust is seen when the group heads down the mule trail at the Grand Canyon. Here the men had to trust the abilities of their horses to see them safely to the bottom. The roles were reversed when the men led the horses across the bridge that spans the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
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Be prepared to have your emotions stirred. I have spent time in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, the high desert regions of northern Arizona and Wyoming, as well as the Yellowstone region of both Wyoming and Montana. I have experienced both the pain and the thrills that those regions have to offer. With cameras mounted on horse and rider, the viewer gets a firsthand view of the trip, and sometimes it can be downright hair-raising.
Anyone who is interested in the west, wild horses or adventure needs to see this movie. All too often in our modern world we are too caught up with the act of doing something or getting somewhere that we don’t embrace the journey. In this movie, however, we share the journey. To paraphrase Ben Masters, more important than the end goal are the experiences encountered getting there.
Editor’s Note: For more information on how and where to view Unbranded, please visit watch.unbrandedthefilm.com.
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This article was originally published in the AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN™ Winter 2016 issue #205. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.