June 6, 2016

A Night at the Movies

The best kinds of movies are horse movies. Did you know there’s an entire film festival dedicated to films about horses? According to their website, in 2013, the EQUUS Film Festival was “…created to highlight and award the diverse and creative efforts of those who artistically pay homage to the horse. The festival empowers storytellers to show the rich history and diverse tapestry of horses in human culture through equestrian content.”  Virtually every form of film is included:  features, shorts, and documentaries; along with music videos, commercials, and even training and educational materials. Held each year in New York City, the EQUUS Film Festival showcased over 150 films in 2015, and presented more than 30 WINNIE Awards. 


(image from the EQUUS Film Festival Facebook Page)

This year, the EQUUS Film Festival Winners Tour came to the beautiful and historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, to coincide with the Preakness Stakes! Hosted by the Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Horse Industry Board, the event benefitted the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and Komen Maryland, and featured a special advance screening of the documentary Harry and Snowman as well as selected EQUUS Film Festival Winners. 


(image from http://www.harryandsnowman.com)

Harry and Snowman is a documentary film made by Ron Davis. Harry is Harry deLeyer, a famous horse trainer and jumper, and Snowman is the horse he saved from slaughter by buying him off the truck for $80. They made show jumping history together, and this movie beautifully tells their story with images, interviews, and film clips of Snowman and Harry and the deLeyer family. In a future blog, I hope to write about the book, “The Eighty-Dollar Champion” by Elizabeth Letts, which is where I first learned about Harry and Snowman. The film will be released nationwide on Sept. 30, 2016. You can find out more about this amazing film at http://www.harryandsnowman.com

I had the opportunity to attend the gala event courtesy of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, with special thanks to MHIB Executive Director Ross Peddicord for providing me a ticket to the event. I was able to talk to the makers of the film Their Last Ride, Neta Rhyne and M. Aku RoDriguez, learn about their project, and then watch the film’s preview screening. 


I spoke with filmmakers M. Aku RoDriguez (left) and Neta Rhyne (right) about their project
(photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)



Neta Rhyne told me about her organization Thundering Hooves 
(photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)

Ms. Rhyne, a Cherokee by Blood, lives in a small Texas town where she witnesses thousands of equine animals (horses, mules, and burros) taking their last ride to slaughter across the border into Mexico. Her personal history includes a connection to the Spirit of the Horse, and she wishes to raise awareness with multi-cultural co-created arts projects. Talking to Ms. Rhyne, I understood her love of horses and devotion to this project. She showed me a beautifully restored and hand-decorated Western saddle and told me the story of its creation. Mr. RoDriguez told me about their trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate and shoot film for the documentary, and I can’t wait to see the final product. You can find out more about Their Last Ride at www.theirlastride.com.

I also had the opportunity to talk with Maryland-based filmmaker Doug Maddox of DBM Films about his movie Christmas Ranch, filmed in Maryland. I spent a day on set as an extra in this fabulous movie that may be part of the next EQQUS Film Festival. You can find out more about the movie on the official website (http://christmasranchmovie.com) and watch the trailer here:

I will be writing more about Christmas Ranch when it premiers, and I can’t wait to see it on screen.

So what’s your favorite horse movie? Will you go see Harry and Snowman when it opens? This year’s EQUUS Film Festival Winners Tour stop in Baltimore was a sold-out success, and we may get to see the 2016 winners tour in Maryland next year!


A beautifully restored, hand-decorated Western saddle
(photo by Holden Rafey)



My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information on topics of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving a second term on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and look forward to seeing lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!

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