500 Miles

2017, Society  -   9 Comments
216
8.63
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Ratings: 8.63/10from 30 users.
Storyline

A soulful portrait of the connection between human and animal, 500 Miles profiles a unique rehabilitation program that promotes healing among United States veterans and wild, un-purposed horses.

The psychological toll of warfare often rears its ugly head once veterans return home from the battlefield. Struggling to gain their footing in a reality far removed from the extreme conditions to which they've grown accustomed, many of these brave souls linger without a positive direction or purpose. In the depths of their hopelessness, some resort to suicide.

Spearheaded by the non-profit Heroes and Horses program, 500 Miles is a project that allows these veterans an opportunity to face and overcome challenges in a constructive, life-affirming way. Their companions on this journey are a group of wild mustangs and burros who must undergo rigorous "gentling" training during a demanding trek across New Mexico and Arizona.

Horses like these are too often tamed through harshly disciplinary methods. They are essentially treated like slaves. The 500 Miles project approaches this process differently. It aims to establish a deeper connection of respect between the animals and their military veteran trainers. Both man and horse are on a similar journey; they must both face the most antagonistic aspects of their nature, battle an unforgiving landscape filled with physical and mental peril, and come out the other side with a renewed sense of spirit, purpose and belonging.

Accompanied by a team of veterinarians and other support personnel, the film crew captures the process by which the participating horses are chosen. We're introduced to 16 veterans who discuss the difficulties of acclimating back into society, and their desires to overcome their demons and reclaim a peaceful life with their children and spouses. We witness each obstacle in their arduous travels across mountainous terrain, and the trust that grows between each horse and their trainer along the way.

Of course, the central journey depicted in 500 Miles not only resonates with returning veterans and untamed horses. The filmmakers have crafted a metaphor for the challenges that each of us must conquer in order to find meaning in our own lives.

Directed by: Josh Fletcher

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Lara K.

    Therapy through horses is deeper than you'll get from a dog or a cat. I have them all, while my bond with my dog is deep and true, as is the bond with my cat, but when it comes to trust, there is nothing like the trust the grows between human and horse.

    We are a predator to the horse, yet they will connect with us, trust us enough to climb on their backs and jump into small metal boxes on wheels (trailers) without blinking an eye. When you are with a horse the rest of the world must fall away because to handle and ride a horse effectively and prevent a wreck for you both is to focus on the animal, focus on the world around you and forget about the things you can't control because you have a 1100 pound animal right in front of you or under you that could kill you in a microsecond but chooses not to because they WANT to be part of your herd. There is no other experience quite like it, no other feeling that is quite like it either, when you feel the trust of a horse wash over you.

    This program sounds fantastic and I commend the people that are running that show, it is a thankless job, but the rewards you get from the animals and the people that those horses help, more than makes up for it I am sure.

  2. Foxy

    This is a beautiful film on so many levels. The photography is stellar. The stories of these men are both heartbreaking and uplifting. The work the put into these horses and the amount of progress to this level of training in such a short time is astounding. Astounding because these are wild mustangs, not a domesticated breed.
    It has been my experience that the relationship of trust between a horse and human is like no other. We literally trust each other with our lives. So it's no surprise that any horse therapy program is so successful. I'm very grateful for this program in particular and the wisdom of those operating it.

  3. Foxy

    44,000 mustangs and burros being held captive. Only a fraction are adopted. They don't tell you what happens to almost all of them. Under the most gruesome conditions, they are trucked over the border to Mexico's slaughter houses.
    Oppose the BLM at every opportunity. Oppose corporate ranching.
    Mustangs are as much an American icon as the Bald Eagle. These majestic beings are meant to be wild and free.

  4. Stubuoy

    Fantastic.
    Quite jealous of the guys achievement!

  5. anita

    So sad for these horses. Nothing can just be free anymore. Glad this program exists. God bless.

  6. Rebecca

    Real men of integrity doing important work. I loved these men, and I loved the beautiful horses. This is an excellent short documentary, but I could easily see this as a full length movie - I would love to have learned a lot more about the individual stories of the men and more specifics about how this work changed and challenged them. Many blessings on all of you.

  7. Alan

    My Life seems worthlessly squandered by comparison....brought me to tears

  8. Norm DePlume

    And achieve.

  9. idd

    Belive