I just watched a gem of a movie called Wild Horse Wild Ride. It’s a newly released documentary about the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, a yearly competition in which 100 amateur and professional trainers are paired with 100 wild mustangs. They have 100 days to tame their horses before showcasing the results in a two-day event. After a champion is chosen, the horses are publicly auctioned the next day—thus avoiding federal corrals.
The movie zeroes in on nine participants in the 2009 Extreme Mustang Makeover, a diverse bunch that includes a Navajo grandfather, a young engineer who has never trained a horse before, two home-schooled brothers, and a grizzled Texas cowboy and his seventh wife.
And, unforgettably, there’s Wylene Wilson, a daredevil blonde with enough braggadocio to fill a hot-air balloon.
Wild Horse Wild Ride shows the trainers’ different approaches—some more successful than others—and the deep bonds they form with their horses. One seemingly untrainable mustang takes a surprising turn, while other horses pull off amazing feats by the end of 100 days. The Kokal brothers from New Hampshire, two self-taught young men with a gift for horses, are especially endearing. All I can say is: prepare to cry along with them.
The competition in Forth Worth is suspenseful, but the auction the following day is the real cliffhanger. Some of the nine trainers have their hearts set on buying their mustangs, but don’t know if they’ll be outbid. Who wins and who loses? You’ve got to watch to find out.
I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that a trainer and horse featured in the movie win the championship. And one of the mustangs goes for an astonishingly large sum; his buyers turn out to be famous, and his fate is unique indeed.
You can rent Wild Horse Wild Ride through Netflix or Red Box (that’s what I did, for a grand total of $1.28), or buy it at retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and mustangheritagefoundation.org.