Making the DVD by Jackie Fleming


'The Cimarron Sky-Dog Dream ~ for the wild horses~’

Filmed entirely in New Mexico over a 10 month period (in 2008-09), this documentary started out as a way to promote the cause of my wild horse sanctuary and outline its mission and dreams. As time went on, however, it became more than that. As caretaker of the horses both at our home base along the Galisteo river and up at the reserve at Watrous it was easy for me to be able to spend plenty of time ‘hanging out’ with the horses with my camera in hand. And let me tell you, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world, it was a privilege and a delight to watch the horses enjoying their new surroundings and running free. The joy that they show in this footage was also felt by me as I filmed them run over acres of tall waving grass and splash in the water holes. Except for a few scenes in the round-pen (generously filmed by my friend Cathy Weber) everything else was shot by me with a LOT of help from my trusty tri-pod and any obliging rocks or fence posts that were handy! Sometimes I think it would be funny to have a film of the making of this film if only to show the comedy of trying to film everything yourself! Interviewing myself in the middle of nowhere, setting up a tri-pod while I load horses or as I walk around the property or as I drive along dusty roads were all pretty comical but I hope effective.
The sequence I do have to mention most though is the one with me riding my beloved Palomino horse, Sonny. He was a saint and very patient as I set up the camera and then we rode away and then had to come back to switch the camera off again! On one occasion, where Sonny and I are riding along the top of a ridge, I set the camera up on the valley floor and then we galloped up to the top of the ridge, rode casually by for the camera and then galloped madly back in order to switch it off! I remember, at the time, I thought it was madness and was happy there were no witnesses. Fortunately for me, Sonny kindly went along with my lunacy even though he kept giving me funny looks! It was made even more of an adventure when a thunderstorm rolled in and Sonny and I had to high-tail it home through alarmingly close lightening bolts, deafening thunder and rain that went from innocent little plops to a drenching downpour. I did not have time to pack away my tri-pod and so I bounced the 2 miles home with a tri-pod under my arm whose unruly legs wanted to spread out in all directions! Jack and Sonny
It was heart breaking but worth it to be able to go ‘in the field’ and film Anthony Madrid of the U. S Forest Service and Karen Herman of ‘Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary’ and Bob Browning and Dan Elkins in action. Watching Dan catch horses in the Jicarilla was enlightening and sad at the same time. He has a deep love of the horses he captures and it breaks his heart to do it but the job has to be done and I can’t think of a better person to do it. When he offered to help me bring some of my horses up to Watrous I thanked him heartily and he said “I have to.” When I asked him why, he said “I spend so much of my time capturing horses and taking them out of the wild, I just have to be able to set a few of them free once in a while.”
Makind of DVD group 1There is so much stigma aimed at the folks who round-up wild horses and determine the fate of the few remaining wild herds out there that it is easy to think of them all as the ‘bad guys.’ I have to say that the people I met during the filming of this movie were quite the opposite. Each and every one of them loves the horses they are charged with ‘managing’ and only want the best for them. They would all prefer that the animals stay in the wild and that their numbers be controlled, in the field, with birth control rather than round-ups and adoptions.
Currently (fall 2009) they are rounding up 190 horses from the Jicarilla Wild Horse Territory, where I filmed in the fall of 2008 and it is a gigantic and distressing problem. Some of us feel those numbers are extreme but the ‘gather’ is underway and there are horses awaiting adoption in the pens already. With the BLM holding pens full to the brim, there is simply nowhere for these horses to go. Unless adopted, their fate is precarious and uncertain. That is why I am pushing to show this film or send out copies of it to anyone who wants one. I am doing it for the horses and I hope the film can help. There is some evocative footage of horses both in captivity and running free at our sanctuary and all of that is enhanced by a wonderful soundtrack by artists such as the Native American flutist, John Rainer Jr and Spanish guitar music by Jesse Cook. I am a first-time film maker and I didn’t go into this to be a documentary film maker but to have some way to reach people beyond long, boring letters and mailers that ‘shock and intimidate.’ As an aesthetic person (I am not sure what side of the brain that is!) I find that it is pictures and music that make a bigger impact on my senses than prose, no matter how beautifully or poignantly written. When something is animated it comes to life and is more ‘real’ to me and I hope that it will be the same for the viewers. This film is somewhat flawed but I hope watch-able. Some of the interviews are a little on the ‘quiet side’ and the wind was a major factor. Sadly I lost quite a lot of interviews to the ‘wind factor’ but others remain and I hope the buffeting of the wind isn’t too distracting. I am sorry I did not know this when I started out but you live and learn and then you go out and buy a better mic! You also learn to take a back-up battery with you, another thing I did not think of when setting out on this movie adventure.
I have to thank the wonderful equine photographer, Gregg Albracht for his contribution to the film. He did some of the commentary and his words about the magic of horses at the end of the movie say it all. I think it was fitting for somebody who makes his living beautifully capturing the spirit of horses with his photography to have the final word
All of the photographs on this page were generously donated by Lesley Deutsch and they were taken when Gregg brought a group of his talented photographers up to Watrous to use our horses as models. To see more of Lesley’s gorgeous photography go to:
SEE the film of Gregg Albracht at the Sanctuary in Watrous here.
Makind of DVD group 1
It has been a really amazing experience to make this film and I have learnt so much as a result. I hope any of you who watch the film enjoy it and take something away with you from it and will, in your own way, do something to help the horses.