March 16, 2015
The very first cowboy documentary I watched was Buck. The movie documents one of the early Natural Horsemanship trainers of our time, Buck Brannaman. I remember first hearing about Buck years ago when he was starting out, but I never knew the story behind the man. While I was somewhat familiar with this philosophy on horses, I really had no idea just how deep that philosophy and way of thinking went until I watched the movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth the time to watch it. Lots of good food for thought on both horses and life in general.
This year there’s at least three new cowboy documentaries that are coming out that I think will be fascinating to watch, especially if you love cowboys and everything about the western way of life.
The first is Unbranded.
Documentary following four friends on a 3000 mile journey on recently trained wild mustangs across the great American West. Releases in 2015.
I’ve been following these guys on Facebook for several months. They’re constantly sharing photos from their journey and some of the footage of the trails they’ve taken will make your toes curl. They’ve posted several photos from canyon trails where the path was just a few feet wide and there was a sheer drop off the whole way.
Another neat documentary is Down The Fence.
Down the Fence profiles horse trainers on their journey to compete for the championship, revealing their challenges and a rare glimpse into their unique lifestyle along the way. This is a documentary about passion, perseverance, community, and the enduring power of the human-animal connection.
Like Buck, I get the sense that this film delves into the story behind the trainers themselves in addition to showing what it’s like to be a trainer and competitor in the horse industry. I’ve also been following these folks on Facebook as well and look forward to the photos they share of some of some of the best names in the cow horse business.
The third documentary that I’ve found is Fire On The Hill.
Fire on the Hill is a feature-length documentary that reveals the underground culture of the Compton Cowboys whose origins trace back to the California’s Old West. Today, the last remaining Compton Cowboys are struggling to maintain their dying culture that has served as a refuge from gang life in the often hostile streets of South Central LA.
Decades of crime, industrialization, and development have squeezed out most of the cowboys, turning their open landscape into an urban wasteland. But in 2012, it took a turn for the worse when their stable, known as the Hill, mysteriously burned to the ground. Now without a home, only a few dozen Compton Cowboys remain today.
Fire on the Hill tells the personal story of these last cowboys, their culture, and how for them, Compton is the final battle ground between the Old West and the impinging modern world.
I found this film quite by accident on Twitter due to a random post from someone I wasn’t even following. I was quite intrigued by the premise of the story. While this film isn’t going to be the typical romantic notion of the American west, I think it’s most definitely going to be well worth watching. It most certainly gives a glimpse at the unexpected impact that horses can have on a person that is struggling in a gritty, harsh world and that’s something I always enjoy seeing.
Have you watched any cowboy documentaries? What did you love about them most?