Among horses and men, trust is the keyword.
The documentary starts with beautiful pictures of a horse ranch in front of the hills and mountains of the Sierra Nevada. We are in Nevada, near a prison, called a camp by the selected prisonners in their last phase of their detention, who are going to break horses, as the taming process is called. Afterwards the horses are sold during an auction.
In a ingenious way the horses are led through fences go to the right area.
The prisonners introduce themselves to Marjoleine Boonstra, who is never visible in the documentary. We only hear her voice. The only woman in this documentary. How would that be?
Chris is a man who is in prison for ten years, divorced and two children, who broke already twenty horses, Dean a spoilt mamma boy till she died, when he was 27 years old now.
His mother taught him to life in the here and now. Gilbert, a man who says it was all about him till he got a son, a dangerous man who was partying a lot during the weekends when he was 18 and heard that his sister had been murderded. Why, he asks. He doesn’t know who he is. A man who was driving under influence and killed someone.
A prisonner who asks her if she means in this state, when Marjoleine asks him how many prisons he has been in. He has to think for a long time about the total and comes to ten prisons in California and Arizona.
Hank is the boss. He has to think about which he likes better, the horses or the boys, but he thinks the horses. He selects prisonners, who are not aggressive and have one more year to go in jail. Horses produce good people, he says, although he has to keep his eye to the prisonners. When he is in the space with a wild horse he doesn’t look at the horse, so the horse will not think Hank is challenging him.
The prisonners slowly move a rope over the body of the horse, put on the bridle and the stirrups. A man said he got aggressive at first, but Hank showed him how to act. it is life skills they practise, they learn to trust and to be trusted.
It was amazing to see how they bring a horse on his side while they do the hoofs. I would have expected in their soft approach that they would ask a horse to lift his or her leg
A horse tells you something about yourself, about who you are. A horse doesn’t have a judgement. There is no space for emotions. Horses have no emotions, they only react out of fear. It reminded me of cats, of my own cat that I can only approach by not confronting her too much.
The much difficult thing is that one doesn’t have any control, a prisonner says.
After the auction the men need to say goodbye to the horses. They cannot stick to them, they have an instrumental relationship with the horses.
What stays in mind after the documentary is the similarity between taming horses and taming yourself. That is the surprising theme of this documentary. It is about loosing the ego, forgetting yourself, keeping on the a goal, staying busy with a process.
In an interview with Marjoleine Boonstra, who is also a photographer and a visual artist (beeldend kunstenaar) by Reimer van Tuinen, Marjoleine says that our stereotypes never work. In a TBS-clinic she met very sensitive boys. Dean was the good guy, Gilbert, who said he could do every job in the world, the bad guy she had to watch out for, and Chris the one with perseverence. Next to Hank these were the three main persons in this documentary. There were many more men talking to Marjoleine. It was a pity that their names were not mentioned in this documentary, so it was hard to distinguise between them all.
This is the trailer