In this episode, Lisa and Julianne take a quick break from the series, Conversations with the EQUUS Herd, to speak with Gretchen Lida, contributing writer for Horse Network.
Gretchen is an essayist and an equestrian, with work appearing in The Washington Post, Brevity, The Rumpus, The Washington Independent Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Plaid Horse Magazine, Horse Nation and many others. She teaches composition in Illinois, lives in Wisconsin, sometimes lives on Nantucket Island and is still a Colorado Native.
Gretchen brings a sense of normalcy for "horse people" in this time of uncertainty through her series of articles for Horse Network. From articles on the "less than half-truths" behind the familiar t-shirt saying, "My Horse is My Therapist" to the joys of riding an opinionated mare, her writing draws the reader into a world where being a horse girl and knowing a horse girl is something to be proud of. As she states regarding the benefits of the positive side of the stereotypes involved,
"Power. Or, better yet, empowerment. So, to those who quake at the thought of a horse girl, I say, “Good. Be scared.” That’s right. Beware the horse girl. The word beware comes from an old English term that referred to prudence, being wary, or a sense of vigilance. It meant to watch carefully, and with caution. And it is true horse girls are a thing to watch, a thing to be careful of, and a thing to fill you with awe.
We Horse Girls are fierce."
In this Zoom call, the conversation between Gretchen, Lisa and Julianne includes flashbacks to the EQUUS Film Festival in December, favorite films from the fest, reviews of some of the films on The EQUUS Channel, and personal stories of favorite "horsey memories." They also stray into the current hot topic of how to cope with isolation during the pandemic.
In a personal essay for Horse Network, Gretchen sums it up. “Still, the need for quiet and ceremony is deeply human. For me, that need for ritual and contemplation is fulfilled in another building. One that smells more like timothy than incense and that requires a different brand of footwear finery. I am a member of the church of Equus.”
To find more about Gretchen Lida, visit https://gretchenlida.com.
To learn more about podcast host Julianne and her partner Bruce Anderson, tune in to "Whinny Tales: Horse Stories, Pony Legends and Unicorn Yarns," the official podcast of Nature's View and The Marley Project, their equine and arts-based 501 (c)(3). You can also visit www.naturesview.us to schedule an appointment. A documentary about their work and films in the Natural Humanship Training Series, are available on The EQUUS Channel at https://filmfestivalflix.com/festival/equus/film/the-edge/. Julianne is the organizer of the Camden Tour Stop for the fest, so visit www.equusfilmfestivalcamden.com for a complete listing of activities and updates on a possible rescheduling of the spring event for the fall of 2020.
For more information about the festival or for links to the films and literature mentioned in the podcast, visit equusfilmfestival.net. To see the EQUUS films, visit https://horsenetwork.com/equus/.
Hello. Welcome to the EQUUS Film and Arts Fest Podcast :The only program for horse lovers who have a fondness for horses and film, art and literature. Each week we will have interesting conversations with equestrian filmmakers, artists and authors from around the world discussing the nature and challenges as well as the trying times of creating their work. Ready to talk horses and film in the arts? Here's your host, Julianne Neal, along with Lisa Diersen, festival founder and director.
Hi everyone. Welcome to the EQUUS Film and Arts Fest Podcast ! I'm your host Julianne Neal. And I'm really excited today. I'm here as always with Lisa Diersen, the festival founder and director but we have a special treat for you. Lisa, how are you doing?
And I'm great, Julianne, we're going into another whole month of lock down. So oh boy, so excited about that.
Oh, well, at least there are things that seem to be shaping up, you know, across the country will see how it goes, at least in the horse world. I'm enjoying learning how other people in other parts of the world do things and so, having that time. Um I was telling somebody the other day I hadn't had time to ride in so long and I'm actually having time with my horse. So, I guess that's a selfish way of looking at it.
That's nice for you. I'm going to start a new hashtag thats #behindyourhorse because I've been doing so much long reining because they really don't want us to do riding at the barn.
Right? Right. Well and I feel guilty even saying this because of our guest today and the last thing I saw so that she wrote was talking just about that. So without any further ado, I will tell you that we're so happy today instead of this being a recorded podcast from the EQUUS Film Festival, we are actually on a zoom call. We've never really done that before as part of the podcast. But we're on a zoom call right now with Gretchen Lida from the Horse Network. So welcome, Gretchen!
Gretchen! Where'd you go? She was here.
We couldn't hear you for a second. But welcome. We're so excited to be talking with you today on the podcast. How are you?
Fantastic. I'm here in Chicago. I have not seen a horse since March 13th. I usually ride twice a week, but I have I've been good about quarantining and I live in this. I live right in Chicago. I live in the northernmost neighborhood of the city, so, Yeah, I have not seen a horse in 30 days, or longer....
In your last article, "When this is over we will ride again" was your title, so it spoke to me when I read it, so...so you're in Chicago? You and Lisa are actually close by!
Yeah, actually, we were talking about after this quarantine and all of the rest of it gets over. I'm going to take her out on introduced her to Joe McRae, who spent with us at the Camden Tour Stop. Jill was with her beautiful billboard of her horse. I'll have to send you that that picture, Gretchen, but, um, I'm going to take her up to see Jill, because Jill is so close to us.
Great idea. That is a great idea. Well, I'm looking forward to I'm interested in seeing how that goes and all the rest of the tour stops that you have planned for this summer. Lisa,
We're down to... now we're over to be starting in August with the tour stop in Sedona because they've moved...BreyerFest will be going online so they're still selling tickets to BreyerFest. We'll still have an EQUUS Film festival component of BreyerFest. You'll just have to be part of BreyerFest to access those tickets and be able to see the films It'll be part of BreyerFest and hopefully will be doing the Lady Long Rider film as part of BreyerFest. So that'll be a pretty exciting, exciting event for them to have. And we're gonna try to see if we can do some virtual kind of like a zoom discussion with Bernice.
Ah, great idea.
Yeah, so that'll be kind of interesting to see how we can do that.
Very good. Well, and I know you were in Kentucky when we were there for the film festival in December. Do you go back and forth for things like BreyerFest and everything?
I have never been to BreyerFest. I've always seen pictures of it and it looks like fun, but I have never actually been I've done lots of other like horse Expos and things. But that was actually my very first trip to the Kentucky Horse Park. And like my frined and I drove there like we were driving to Mecca like we were just like it's getting closed and we're so excited.
Were you able to see a lot of the film's Gretchen?
Yeah, I watched. Um, I actually made a list to the other day, Um, of all the films that I watched on the website, as well as on, um on the EQUUS Film Festival website, as well as at the festival itself, and I think it's come out to about 35 films. Wow. Um, and we would watch at least five films a day. Yeah, it was great. If they're really good. Yeah, they are really great ones on there. Like there's, um yeah, there's some that I still think about .
They start conversations, you know,
And the thing I really liked about it was how diverse it was, like there was so much variety. Like, you know, there was one day I watched a film that was mostly in Gaelic. It was about a jockey. It was a steeplechase jockey who got, you know, launched to stardom at like, 16. There was another one called the Great Flip Off. I love that film.The Great Flip Off. Unfortunately, we don't have that on the channel, but you want. Anybody can see that now on Amazon. So we have a link on the EQUUS Film Festival page on our website, right to that film. But that's an amazing documentary. There's such a great back story to that documentary, and Julianne has done a little feature piece on one of the stars of that documentary who his horse happens to have been in the feature film The Mustang that was out last year. It was at Sundance. So it is. It's very, very cool that that movie, I could watch that movie over and over again.
Well Gretchen, I subscribe to the Horse Network news letters and things and so I get stuff, articles from you a lot, and you've gone through and reviewed a bunch of the films from the festival, and I'm really enjoyed reading your your style of writing is just fantastic, and I really enjoyed reading it. So how did you get involved with Horce Network?
Um, I got involved with Horse Network when it was still Horse Collaborative back in 2000 and 15 or yeah, I was 2015 and my first piece for them was actually about why doing martial arts made me a better equestrian. And then I just at the time I was getting my MF A at Columbia College Chicago, which is down in the loop. Um, and I was also starting to ride Gypsy horses in Wisconsin more and more. And so, you know, I knew that I wanted to publish more. I knew I wanted to write more. So that's how I originally got involved in Horse Network. But I've been writing since 2010 and I went to Colorado State University and Fort Columns Colorado, which has an equine science program, and I was involved in Collegiate Horseman's Association. I was an English major, but I was with horses all the time. Um, and I met the editor of The Quarter Horse journal, and I at the time was determined to write about horses. And so she said to me, she's like, Alright, Grecian. If you want to be taken seriously, you really are gonna have to know what it's like to get up. No matter, the weather to feed and clean pens like she's like, This is how you're gonna be taken seriously.
So I ended up working, and volunteering and ending up helping run a horse farm over the years. And then I just started writing from there, So yeah, it's ever since I had last, in 2019 I had an article that did the best it probably I've ever seen. And it was called Beware the Horse Girl. And the last I talked to Carly the Editor, she said it had 60,000 page views. So, that's how I got involved with that.
You also write for other magazines and other reasons. I saw something that really spoke to me. You wrote about Anthony Bourdain and just his zest for telling the truth and I think you called it punching it or punching in. He wasn't concerned about what people thought. In the article you said you wanted to do the same thing. In the horse world what is punching it for you?
So the term is punching up. So, like, um, and punching up often when we talk about humor or we talk about, um uh, criticism or things like that. It punching down is punching is like making fun of someone with less power than you. And punching up is making fun of those with more power than you. Um and so I've always thought that was super interesting in the horse world, because that's definitely a part of the culture. There was definitely a hierarchy of who has power where, um, and I think it's really important to talk about it, and it's often not talked about very much. And it is also hard to do because the horse world is really small, and it is a lot about NETWORKING so you want to be as kind as possible, but as honest as possible. If that makes sense, um, so that's so punching up is really talking about Who's in power. Who's not. Why is that. Things like that and Anthony Bourdain really did that, and I was, um, you know, I had consumed a little bit of his shows before I started reading his books this winter, and I was like, You know, he was cool, but like, I hadn't seen that much and he kind of felt kind of macho. And then I was reading his books, and it was just like, Man, I want to be the Anthony Bourdain of the horse world.
Well your style is, you know. You talk in the article about his flow and the way he moved from thing to thing and I don't know that its the same as his, but your style is just wonderful. It draws you in. It makes me as a reader I want to know what it is you're going to end up with.
Oh, cool. Yes. The pieces move. Yeah, it's good to hear that. I have pacing. That's like a thing that's really hard to master, you know, I think a lot about, you know, one of the things that's really hard is someone who writes about horses is that horse people, and I've heard some of this of your other authors talk about this on the podcast, where they're really concerned about making sure the horse information is accurate. You know, that horse enters that page on the correct lead, right? You're on the diagonal, right? That lad ago is in the correct Do like you know what I mean. So but no, for a generalized audience, you It's a really delicate balance between, um, what do you call it between being correct and also being compelling? You know, often times and I've been working on a longer project lately and a lot of the of my writer friends, or, like, be careful, don't get bogged down. So I still do it sometimes, too. But that's a thing that I think is really important to bait attention to. And it's definitely a thing that I've noticed. The films I really like does well, it balances good horsemanship and good storytelling at the same time, which is really hard to do.
Yeah, definitely. Lisa, you and I'm out that before with a couple of projects that you just you watch as people are developing them and you want to see that something that is supposed to be hunter/jumper or supposed to be Western or whatever. That is true to that and that you're not get the Truth Police coming in and saying Yeah, but that's not the right bridal or, you know, whatever
They they always do, they always do. It's like the helmet people. You got to be careful of what you post up When we did A Pony and His Boy that was part of what came back was because the very first time Josh ever rode Berry, I don't know if you've gotten a chance to see that documentary it. When Josh first rode Berry, we literally were in the middle of a field and he just said "me ride Berry" and I picked him up and put him on that pony, and that was that. I didn't care. He was close enough to the ground. I was holding the pony. I grew up riding without a helmet as a kid, so I knew he was safe. But boy, those helmet police were all over it. It was just very funny,
Right? But especially like in those moments, um, with the kid like Josh, you have to act so quickly, right? Right, like that. Raw footage of that is so important to that film you know what I mean? Like yes. I understand. Just I understand the Helmet Police. I have experienced the Helmet Police. Um my very first essay that, like, did super well, it was called Fat Girl Riding. And I had a picture of me that I originally sent in on the horses I talk about. And I wasn't wearing a helmet in the picture cause I was just sitting on her and the editor messaged me back. It was like, Oh, Let's find a different picture because you need to be wearing a helmet. No, I'm a writer. My brain is the only thing I have that's really worth any money. So I always wear a helmet. But I also I'm like, you know, just calm down.
And we we could have recreated that for the doc, for the film. But, um, it was such a pure moment and and literally, his mom, what was going to send the video was going to be a little "Hi, Daddy, I finally I'm going to get on Berry" moment and it ended up being in part I mean little from that moment, a documentary sprung forward. That moment created that documentary. (Music Break)
There was no plan to make a documentary about A Pony and His Boy. But when that happened and I talked to Julianne and it was like, We just have to let this go where it's going to lead us?
Definitely! Now I have to ask: Gretchen when you talk about that picture, Was it? I think it's Cabella that I read about. Was your baby growing up? Was that picture of you on Cabella talk about her a little bit?
Yeah, that's me on Carabella. I think I'm, like 14 in that picture!
Cleaning tack and all that kind of stuff. It just reminded me, and I think Lisa is the same way. We all grew up riding, and you know that smell of leather when you're pulling apart the buckles and cleaning, when it's that old tack, there's just nothing like it. That's amazing.
Yeah, my trainer and I were talking about that the other day about how, like the tack that's like, Is that older? The leathers a different texture than the newer stuff, the old bridles. I'm just like I want this new. The old stuff is just so much "leatherier 'like I guess it's mostly cause it's not a synthetic, as the new stuff is, but, like, you know, like on it last so much longer. But yeah, that's so that's a really good trick to both filmmaking, I think, and to writing too is getting those little details and knowing which little detail is important and which ones aren't. And it takes a lot of practice, and sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you get it wrong. But yeah, leather is great.
So you said you're working on another project. Is it gonna be horse related? Is it a book? Can we be nosy and find out a little bit about it?
Yes, I am working on a book proposal about a collection of essays. Um, the title is a work in progress, but the collection of essays is there's a chapter on each different horse. And then there's a chapter on a different issue within the horse industry. Um, so there's a chapter on gender. There's a chapter on rescue horses. There's a chapter on, um, the loss of agricultural land and those are each told from a different perspective from different horses throughout my life. So that's it's the big project. Right now it is had draft upon draft upon draft, and it feels like it's getting close to being ready to send out. But I want that thing to sparkle before it goes anywhere!
We actually have a filmmaker working on a documentary, a short documentary, right now, well I don't know how short it's gonna be. But it's called, um, I think it was called Here Today. Gone Tomorrow, right? Julianne? about the loss of riding land. And he has been for the last 20 years, documenting the same area and how the riding land has disappeared and what he's had to do with his horse and how many places he's had to move his horse and all different kinds of things in this. And it's quite an interesting documentary perspective of what he's been able to film through these last 20 years with the same horse. The horse is still with him. Wow, Yeah, it's really cool
I'm looking forward to seeing that because that is so important. Not talked about very much. Yeah, that's such a lake. And there's all these discussions about zoning and, um, you know what gets to stay is what and the like complication of up keeping a boarding facility that's close to town. And like what that looks like for the sustainability of the horse industry, I think it's within. I need to check my facts on this. So please, um, please check me. Um, but I think it's like a less than 20 years. They say that we might not have enough pasture land for horses to maintain the numbers that we have. Um, but it's a very short period of time. I can't run for its 10 or 20 years. I'd have to look it up, but yeah, it's super important. I'm looking forward to that one Lisa.
And that's when you talk about all the diverse films that we have. We have so many, you know, from ah, blind rider, Dressage rider in France to a little boy with Down syndrome in the United States and a pony. And we have everything in between as far as films come into the festival or that are on the channel. And to me, that's what makes this so cool and so interesting is the fact that if if there is a discipline in horses, we have a documentary film that's been made about that discipline. We've had films in Japan on the horses from Fukushima after the nuclear reactor blew. We have a documentary that I'm talking to the people again in Japan right now about a type of racing that only happens in Japan I had put up, we've been doing a little game on the Facebook page about what equine sport is this, and we find I found this really extreme sled racing where they come out of the gate and the jockeys are in their silks. But they're standing on toe, one tons, sleds and the draft horses. It's draft horse racing in Japan, and there's a documentary short documentary that's been made about it. So it'll be part of the festival, and it will be on the channel as well. So there's so many different things all the way around the world that we've been able to meet and talk with the filmmakers and curate this kind of collection that no one else has a collection as diverse as what we what we have and so many interesting filmmakers along with it.
Yeah, I think that diversity is super crucial. Like I was going over like my list of favorites before we started talking. And, you know, half of them are not in the States at all, and ah, lot of them are over every kind of discipline you can imagine and every kind of horse breed. Um, I just watched. I'm totally gonna please forgive my Italian. It was called I Want to be a Romplicello. Oh, yeah, saying that name, right? Yeah, and it's the first woman to ever win the race in Sienna or not, she didn't win. She just raced in it already. She was also in this film that was made in the fifties, and she's like this little tiny spitfire of a lady. And she's just like, you see her getting on that horse and just like, yeah, I gather the diversity is super important. And I It's been, the thing that I've really enjoyed about reviewing the films is how current and how widespread it's made my information and knowledge about horses. Um, you know, I always considered that I knew quite a bit, you know, I've been around horses my whole life I've written. I've always been involved in exotics like a group on Peruvians, and then end up in a gypsy horse farm. And for some reason, I keep tripping over Friesiens, um uh, but you know, this is even bigger than that. Like there's every type of horse imaginable. Um, also did, did you have you guys watch the one about the Dartmoor ponies? Oh, yeah. Um, and the final up that was also fantastic. I love the imagery at the very end of running through the fields like that. It's so good. And don't worry, guys, that doesn't spoil anything. It's super great.
No, but see there's just such a such a wide diversity of films. And you know where? Where else do you find that you? Where else can you find something that's not Secretariat? Although I do love Secretariat, Um, and on our regular film page on the on our website on EQUUS's website, you can access Secretariat,. But when you look at a film even like Utopik, which is about a jumping instructor and a horse, that it just flipped over those kind of films, unless you could know how to go out and just search and search and search, you can't It's so hard to watch that kind of content and the one on the channel, you can just flip from film to film. We're gonna have, um, could be adding the Paulo race to the look to the lineup. That's one of the new films that's coming in. So we had had that back in 20 I want to say 14. We had that film enter.ed So the first year we had the festival, we had 35 ...32 films, 32 films that ranged from The Black Cowboys, which is a documentary that was filmed in Harlem with The Black Rodeo or the Black Rodeo It filmed in Harlem with all of the Oh, Mohammed Ali was in that film to film about Ascaramoussa with girls that do the Ascaramoussa riding with the Mexican horses. So we had such a diverse batch of films when we first started the festival that that was what I was like, Well, this there's something here people, people want to see this. So Gretchen what other films did you really like?
Ah, what other films that I really like? Um, I just watched yesterday Horse Packer, uh, which is about a young man? Yeah, that goes into, um, the wilderness with mules every day for six months out of the year out of Rocky Mountain National Park. And they filmed it. I'm originally from Colorado, and so I like to watch that film in it, you could tell they filmed it at just the peak of when the aspens are at their height. Like there's like, two weeks in Colorado where it's that beautiful. It's always that beautiful, but like that, beautiful is only one like two weeks. And just the energy that that guy had on film was something, Um, I also, um, really loved. Um, Romani Rai. That film is great. I loved the fact that, you know, the Romany in Ireland and England are known for being pretty secretive for a pretty good reason. And that filmmaker really did a really good, comprehensive job of looking at the entire culture, which I really appreciate it the other if you haven't seen it yet, Band of Rebels is also utterly fabulous. It's two very short, but the filmmaking it's not, is absolutely stunning. It's about the wild horses of of the French marshes and the old men who were the guardians of them. And it just has this very magical, very damp fairy tale feel to it. That is just absolutely stunning. Um, I also loved Utopik. That film was the fact that they got the footage of that horse going over backwards is just your glued to the screen. You're just like it's like every bad day that any questions ever had. Oh, my gosh. Um, And then, um, so far, the film it is like, um, I also I am desperately in love with the film Halter Off. That film is so it is like firing on all cylinders. That film is so good. Um, and like I was screaming at my at my camera or of my camera at my computer by the end of that particularly, yeah, like, I could not walk so I could not walk away from that. Like, I just love that film, and it just doesn't such a good job of showing the stakes of that race of that trainer and his racehorses, and like he also a friend of mine, um works in film, and they talk a lot about people who look good on camera and who you can't look away from and the main trainer in Halter Off, you just can't look away from him. But there's something about him that really compelling. Um, yeah, those were the films I could go on for hours.
That makes me feel really good because I spend so much time curating these films and it was with some of the trainers that we're bringing in now. And you love the the film about the riders in the marshes in Spain. I have two more films coming in from that film maker, and one is filmed in the, um oh, not not Iceland, but it's It's so cold and it's so you feel the cold because of his photography. It's so beautiful. But, um, I'm so happy to hear you say that. Our filmmakers, people who make horse movies and I say this when I talk to other film festival directors. People who make horse movies, very rarely will I have someone make a horse movie that's not a horse person. Mostly, they're made by people who are passionate about the story they're telling and passionate about the horses and that's the difference. That's what comes through with these films. And the very sad thing about this is all of the films that we have. So many of them have applied for bigger film festivals or even applied through our Sundance and every film festival they applied for, because their horse content, they usually get put to the bottom of the list and don't even get you. Once somebody sees that it's horse content. It just doesn't even get looked at. But if you, as a as a reviewer, now you're sitting here and you're looking at these films and there's not one of them that's up on the on the channel or on our film page did isn't so worth watching, that doesn't have a passionate story attached to it, that isn't teaching you. We have people who walk out of the movie theaters when we're at when we do the festival crying, sobbing because of what they just watched. You know, some people walk out. There's not a dry eye. You could I could put put you into three films right now that I know you'd be sitting there crying afterwards because they bring that emotion to the, to the storytelling, to the film.
That's one of the positives, one of the few positives about having the time at home right now is to be able to have all that time to see them. I can't believe how many you've seen Gretchen!
Yeah, yeah, well, you know, when you're when you're reviewing, you also have a little bit more incentive to cover lots of them. But they're also super good, and it's just it also it makes me a better horseman, to you know, to be able to watch all these different types of films. You know, um, I also think that it's really interesting Lisa that there so few people that accept these films because one of the things that I've been learning lately is that everybody has a reaction when you talk about horses, you know, always like whenever they find out about it, I'm like, I'm a horse person. I always hear "Oh, you know, Well, I love Blank" or "I went out and saw such and such ponies in my neighbor when I was a child", right? I really think those directors are not picking up horse content the way they should.
And when they do, they pick up a film like either The Rider or, um, My gosh, I'm trying to think of the the title well, The Rider, to me as a horse person, it's It's very hard to watch very hard for me, too much movies that again, that wasn't an equestrian that was the filmmaker. So they just made a movie and then, you know you're supposed to...but that's a film that got to Sundance, and that's the film that got the attention. Well, at the same year we had, all the rest of our films came out. None of them were able to get into something like Sundance. So you know, and I think our stories, our filmmakers are super good at telling their stories and getting it on, getting those stories on film.
This episode of the EQUUS Film and Arts Fest podcast has sponsored in part by Nature's View, the Marley Project and J. A Media Productions. To learn more about what we do, visit naturesview.us.
I'm curious so tell me more. What was hard to watch. I've only seen bits and pieces of The Rider?
Oh, um, I have I have problems when... well, I don't want to ruin it for you,
Thats fine, you can ruin it for me!
I have problems when horses die in a movie or when horses die in a movie? Lean on Pete was the other one. Lean on, Pete I saw in a screening in downtown Chicago. I was invited to, um, a reviewer screening, and I almost walked out of it, because did you ever see moving Meet Joe Black? It was Yes, it would have. Okay. And, you know, when he gets hit by the car,
Well, yeah, It's like the very first scene.
Yeah, well, they do that with, the horse. And I just don't I don't think there was so many other ways they could have written that at that scene to happen. And I don't think you need to do that. Especially toe. If you have the horse loving audience thats going to come to a theater to see that movie. The horse loving audience isn't ever gonna ever gonna watch that movie again. Where if you have a horse loving audience coming in and the see well, now Ride like a Girl is the big one that in which is a great documentary. Don't know if you've seen it yet. Um, it's it's I'm talking to people now. It's from Ireland, and it's about women's steeplechase researchers, but it's it's available on Amazon It's really cool, but they're gonna bring bring it to the festival this year they went right out into distribution. But you know you have the ability to have a have audience that will come back and watch your film another 10 times. Because they're horse lovers, How many times have you watched Secretariat or the Black Stallion? Mine was The Man From Snowy River? Yes, yeah, see? And you watch it over and over again, won't you? But you'll watch it over and over again because you walk away, even though there was drama and tragedy in the story, you still walked away feeling good about the horse content of it, the horse part of it. You know, even though they went down that ravine, that horse didn't die out from underneath him. If that horse would have died out from underneath him. I guarantee the audience reaction to that film wouldn't have been what it is today.
Yeah, we wouldn't still be watching it today,
Right? Right. So I just think when you're telling a horse film, you you have to take the horse lover, you know, when you're making a horse, then we have to take the horse lover into consideration when you're making that. We have some documentaries From the Kill Pen is going to be going up that those kind of documentaries are very hard, when we're at the festival, we have things that are so hard for people to watch because you can't... seeing a horse get hit with a captive bolt... We've seen, I think, as, um horsemen now, because it's you can see that on on your computer, I think, I don't think people want to see that. They know it happens. They wanted to know what they can do to help stop it. So we have we have films, Their Last Ride, Which one of our filmmakers, Nita Rhyne, who has made quite a few documentaries now about the equine slaughter issue, she has been able to do it in such a way that she skirts around that and and does it in a really tasteful way so that you don't feel like it's slapping you in the face and that you're you know, you're gonna throw up watching the movie, you're gonna be introduced to the issue, and she's gonna show what she's doing and how they're bringing about changed to get those horses out of those kill pens, you know? And she's doing it with children and art. So, you know, there's just a lot of different ways...
I saw her at the Cracker barrel. Um, after the night of the first night of the film festival. She was sitting behind me. Isn't she amazing? Definitely
Gotta love that cracker barrel, though. My favorite place.
Definitely the hang out spot in Kentucky, for sure.
Right. We always hit the Cracker Barrel. Oh yeah!
Now Gretchen, are you coming to Kentucky this this December? This November, actually, for the festival,
I can't say officially, but I have been planning on it. Um, I sure do hope so, because I had such a good time last time. And, um, you know, the Kentucky Horse Park is also such a place right. And it was so nice to just hang out with filmmakers and get to meet people and talk about you know, all kinds of different things. I got to interview filmmakers, um, the tales of Iceland director. I got to interview, and now we're friends on Facebook. Um, you know, like so yeah, I'm planning on it. I'm looking forward to it, but, you know, it's a crazy world, so I don't want to say 100% because,...
As we've learned, yeah...
And that's you saying that you have never been to BreyerFest. I'm gonna tell you. We did of we partnered with BreyerFest last year with film screenings and we had Berry and Josh down there with the Pony and Marios who's in the film also brought one of his horses and they went all over the grounds with this beautiful black stallion leading Little Pony Berry with Josh all over the park. But there's almost 40,000 kids, people, that come to that festival with their... they compete with their model horses. It's... It's the most unbelievable experience you will ever have in your life, horse-wise...
I mean, even the hotels around there are full of people who are trading or they've got their room set up with the stall and they're selling tack.... And I mean, it's I've never seen anything like it. And Bruce and I were there this this past year and, um, yeah, we we just walked around in awe of all the knowledge that we didn't have.
So we're also going to be there for Equitana, the film festival will be part of Equitana, if you know, knock on wood that Equintana goes through.
Oh gosh, yeah.
That was gonna be my question cause it's in June, isn't it Equitana's in September? Yeah. Oh, is it? It's in September. That's good. That's good to hear.
It's September. So we're hoping that that'll be that things will be good for Equitana. That's a that's a huge event coming to the park.
Yeah, and that would be so disappointing after everything. If we didn't get to have that one. You know, all the plans have gone into it, and things have been so topsy turvy. I mean, even Lisa, if you think about it all the way back to World Equestrian Games...everything... we were in Tryon for that. But we're battling storms and things there. And now here we are, getting ready for Equitana. Just wondering what's gonna happen.
Well a different kind of storm. Yeah, definitely. We had the hurricane for World Equestrian Games. That was terrible. ,You just never know. But, um, so the other the other film, Gretchen, that, um I think if you liked Romany Rai that that filmmaker because you used to ride gypsy horses, He's a breeder of Fell Ponies. Yeah. And he's We have another film in the festival that he has made that I just put put in, um, and it's called Live Before You Die. And it's a poem that he did for his mom. That one just went up. Then we're gonna be adding another one that he did called Pony, which is a music video. It's about a seven minute long music video featuring his Fell pony. So you have to keep an eye out for those.
Sounds amazing. I know. He also he runs a um this...He runs a touring thing up and up where he lived. Yes, I mean, yeah his Fells are lovely and they seem so well loved like those seem like they have the best life.
If you haven't seen it yet, be sure and watch The Edge. That one's another one than personal for Bruce and I. We'd love for you to watch it
They've been in the festival since.. what 2014 with...they came the very first time with just a short trailer. And then they evolved into a full, full length documentary. And now we do the Spotlight Rescue Series, Julianne and I do that, and we have Bruce's training, which is pretty amazing. His Training Series is up on the, um on the channel . And we also have been kind of stepping into, um, equestrian travel. And we've got another couple of people. I'm gonna be talking to. We're adding their content, but we have the Greece and Greenland, and we're gonna be adding Slovenia with the Equestrian Adventure So she does a really nice job with her with her videos. So yes,
The Mongolian races and like Julie Veloo is over there now and you just you never know what's gonna come out of some of that.
Well, Julie Veloo, who did the documentary The Gobi Gallop, she has that film. They they also run a foundation and called the Veloo Foundation that build schools in Mongolia for the kids. Kindergarten his schools for these kids so that their parents can work. And that's what she does with the funds that are raised from that race. And there's we also have a lot of films that are about equine assisted therapy and Wounded Warrior programs. Which that any of these though, Yeah, I love my favorite. One of those was Back Country Recovery. Oh, yeah, that was good. Ben. Masters, that went out of that. He did the documentary Unbranded. Um, came out? Yeah, I think.
I liked Horse Rich Dirt Poor too. Like he did that one as well. Those are also yes, those are super good. His filmmaking is lovely. I also the other thing that about with horse films that I've been really impressed with Is the number of women documentaries, or like that, or directed by women, like, if we really at um right, right. Like, uh, we all like, that's really impressive and not very common. Like I was going through. And even when the film is about men, it's often directed by a woman. Um, like the one um, we're gonna "missay" the word. It's called Nabrullah Boy is it is about the to the filmmaker, the horse trainers in Australia who meet his friends. One is, um, Italian immigrant in they race horses, um, that that one is also directed by a woman and like they're all are like there was one about Portuguese bull riders. Oh, not bull riders. They're bullfighters. Yes, fighters that film as beautiful as well, um, also directed by a woman like that super fabulous and not that common. And it's nice to see that are you did Land of the Thoroughbreds too. But the thing that really impressed me about that film is how it uses horses but also really does feed off of like the French art movement. Like if we think about films like this is super nerdy, Sound Soleil, which is like the experimental art film that is definitely what that film feels like. It has that like movement, and it relies on the the audience to kind of make its own connections instead of you trying to find them yourself, which I I really like, because I'm that kind of a nerd, but yeah, sure. Her filmmaking is also super beautiful.
You will love Flux that just went up the film Flux. Put that down to review.
Yeah, I actually have that one on my my list to watch on my next set. It's that is about narrative films that I have coming up in the next couple of days, so it doesn't quite fit that the art films and narrative films don't...That's the other thing that I think is really important about the festival and the EQUUS Film channel is that it has such diversity and like, you know, just because, like my friend Rachelle came with me to the festival this year and she, because the drive from Chicago to Kentucky is long she, you know, it was really fun taking her with me right. Lisa, you completely understand, um, like, she really liked a completely different set of films than I liked. And it was interesting to kind of bounce off of each other. What we got out of what, um, like me? I'm the queen of the artist, so I want something pretty edgy. I want something that, like really pushes the status quo where she like she really likes heartwarming. And so it was really important for me as a reviewer to take that into perspective and think about heartwarming and where that fits in to the zeitgeist of the way people think and honestly, like That's one of the reasons I love being a horse person, is that it? It keeps me grounded. A lot of the times, like someone who's involved in a literary world and, you know, reads all kinds of strange experimental things and likes, as my parents like to tell me, stuff, it's like reading paint drying. Um, it's really important for me to have that balance. And I really think horses bring that to me, and I think the film festival website does that super well.
Will you got to see a lot of the equine authors that we had there, too, which was his diverse as the films you know what? Yeah. At what films did your friend it like?
Her favorite film of the night was, um, of the night, of the weekend was. Um, there was the documentary that takes place. Um, I want to say it's it's near us, Lisa. I think it takes place in, um, Mustang Saviors. No, it's about, um, the equine program, the equine therapy.
Oh, Soul Harbor Ranch. Yes, yes. Yeah.
That was her favorite she was stopping her guts out through that one. Um, sobbing. She's gonna be mad when she hears that I said that. No, she won't mind. She's pretty great. Um, and then she also loved, Cowboys: A Portrait, which is that's a beautiful documentary. Those two were her favorites. Yeah, beautiful. And it just it also just, like, reminded me a lot of my childhood. Like the scene with the snake. My friend and I turned to each other like, Should we explain to the people around us about what they're doing to the snake?
So have you seen Peewee Lovell yet? Yeah. Oh, my gosh. So if you're doing if you're doing kind of a narrative film review, you need to watch Peewee Lovell., because Peewee Lovell's the kind of kind of film that you go. "Oh, my gosh. There's people like that out there in the world with the horses". It's just, it's it's it will grab you and you will not be able to look away. It's just one of those films that you just can't look way from, um. Another one that I watched that was so interesting to me, and it's from one of our older film fests, but its new content on the channel is it's called Poisoned Horses, and I learned in that documentary, they have...it's about fluoride poisoning with the horses, and they did, they put fluoride into a community's well, and because horses drink 25 gallons of water a day, they got flouride poisoning really quickly, where people don't drink that much out of the tap or they drink other stuff and they were able to find out what these people with what happened to their horses was awful, but they were able to get the fluoride pulled out of the water and bring it to the attention that you know how bad fluoride poisoning is when they were putting fluoride in everyone's water, so I mean, they cover all kinds, the topics that you don't even think
yeah, that one is that one was just put up the last month.
Yes, yes, we have one from India called Riders of the Mist that's very cool too about the social structure of horse racing in India. So that's that. I've been looking forward to that one. Yeah, it's a a filmmaker. I love that film maker. Her name's Roupa. She has a film called The Daughters of the Polo God, that will be able to put on the channel here soon, But she's just she tells a story and just a wonderful, wonderful way. And she's come from India to the festival. But we've had people from probably 26 different countries.
That's impressive. Yeah, I've been looking forward to that one I've been, like saving that one way to get that when I'm like I'm looking for, I don't know what this one's gonna be before yet, but I really like this one. I also just watched um, Hojo. My Navajo is clearly terrible. It's, um, listen, that that one has Yeah, that one is a beautiful film. The thing about Utopik is that I spent so much time in that arena as a child because my grandmother had Peruvian. Wow. And so we go watch her show.. How many hours have I spent?
No, I'm glad you're enjoying the films, too.
Yeah, and it's Don't you get it the first week free, if I remember correctly.
Yes. The first week is free, first seven days are free. And right now we're adding probably around 7 to 10 new films every week are being added to the channels. So, you know, new content is constantly coming in. And now we have different trainers and filmmakers who are just making content for this channel. So, no, it'll always be getting getting new content. So it will be fun as it's as it keeps growing.
Thats crazy. 10 a week. You're like 10 films a week, Roughly right? What? You said 7 to 20?
Yes, yes, but for just a just a rough example for you. Since we're going into our eighth season with the film festival since the festival started, we had close to over 600 entries into the festival. Every year... when we have more than 100 films and kind of 200 pieces of content entered every year, I'm I'm so amazed that there's that many people out there making that many horse stories, and it's and it's getting bigger. There's getting there's more stuff being made than before, you know, every year it just keeps... the content gets better and better and better...
So we're gonna keep you very busy for a long time Gretchen!
Oh, good. Oh, what kind of films would you guys like to see in the world? What is it that you haven't seen yet that you'd like to see?
Well, I'm very excited and can't wait for the Billy and Blaze series to come out
That's exactly what I was thinking.
You know, that will be like, um, And if they ever remake Misty of Chincoteague. But the Billy and Blaze film is so good, what they've gotten as so far as the teasers and the, you know the trailer for but she's promising that it will be ready this year. So that want I'm really because then it'll be one after another. They're gonna have, um, sequels to it.
So did they make it off of each one of the books?
Yes, yes, that's the plan. So and then we have a filmmaker from the Netherlands, Annette Van Trigt. So every year she's got two or three films that she enters that are ones that you just sit there with your jaw dropped after you watch him, which her films she has a film about Totalis. She has a film about the The Jumpers, just the film about eventing. She's got a film about combined driving, different kinds, and they're all documentaries about different kinds of intrigue that happens with, like the Dutch eventing team or the Dutch driving team. She filmed that when we were at World Equestrian Games, she was there filming part of that. Every one of her films. You're like, Wow, these are so good so you can click through and that those links to Amazon. Those are ones that you know people just need those films people need to see it just because they're so good.
And I think I would like to see some of the authors that we've had at the festival that have these amazing books. I want to see some of those partnerships between the filmmakers and the authors bring some of those books to life and make some movies. You know we've got all these great stories. And I think it'd be fun.
The author of Many Brave Fools is and I are friends on Internet on, and that book is I love. I think that that book such an interesting concept, I think it would make an interesting film series like, I don't know if it would make a feature length film, but the you know, the idea of horses and addiction and horses and co-dependency is interesting. And I think she does an interesting job. And also I'm being super honest about things like age and how you know where we start with when we ride. And things like that is super... I love the vulnerability of that kind of stuff. You know, that's what I love about a good horse film is when they're super super vulnerable. Um, I'll have to go check these ones out least because I love intrigue. I love gossipy films.
Annette's films that they're right on the the top row of our film page on the website. Her documentaries there so worth watching you and you're watching a couple of times. We have a really good documentary coming in this year about, um, sidesaddle if they get that finished, but like Calgary stampede racing side saddle riding. So it's very cool. We've got a trailer, it's called Her Story is the name of the documentary, but then Bernice's film is done, so we'll have Lady Long Rider this year back and you've got a chance to talk to her, didn't you?didn't you? I talked her for grand total of about 30 seconds because she had so much raging fans. It was adorable.
She's the rock star of the horse world. She is.
Well, read that book cause that book is and you want to talk about going through some stuff, that book will just sit you down and you go, Oh, my gosh, So and and that's the thing about our people, really like maybe we admire her. Well, you gotta admire women that just says Screw it and gets on a horse and goes riding off 3000 miles. I think so. I think so many women would like to do that,
Especially after we're all that back out of our houses, just to see how my name is decided to be like "Bye..." for sure.
So Gretchen, what is the first thing that you're going to do when we are all let out of our houses? Where you going?
Um, I have a friend up in Wisconsin who has a new crop of babies on the ground. She's a breeder. I'm gonna go up and play with babies. She's got a bunch of mares for me to ride, too. So I'm looking forward to that. I don't know, Ride something stupid, like ride real hard, you know, because we can't really ride much right now because you just don't want to get hurt. I might just go up into the woods. One of my favorite places to go is Washington Island, Wisconsin. Oh, um, it's way up on the thumb of Michigan, . not Michigan but Wisconsin. And it I have friends up there and, you know, just go live in my tent for a while.
Yeah, I miss being. I miss being around people. Although I'm you know you wonder, How are you going to feel going into a restaurant? You know, I think until they have a vaccine for this, um, I think everybody is going to feel a little uncomfortable in restaurants or a little uncomfortable in big group settings, and it kinda frightens me when you hear, well not frightens, but it's disconcerting to hear when they're going to one of the, you know, open the restaurants up, and open movie theaters in the first wave of opening stuff and it's...
Well, I worked in the wedding industry for quite a while and like the idea of like, social distancing at something like a wedding, like so much of a wedding is just crowd management, you know, right? Makes a lot of sense, Julianne, what's the first thing you're gonna do when they let you out?
Well, I still have a farm in one town, and then we have Bruce's farm in another town. So I'm still driving back and forth to take care of horses. So I kind of feel like I'm I'm lucky in that I'm still at least getting out of the house, but I really want to see my brother in Florida. I miss, I miss family and so Bruce and I have talked about traveling. We're supposed to get together at Edisto Beach this summer. We'd love to go to Trinidad and see his family. And so I don't know which of those will come first, but probably the closer one will probably be at the beach in South Carolina if it opens for now, I guess we're all lucky to have EQUUS things to do and right up time and all that. So Well, thank you, Gretchen, for being with us today. This has been so much fun.
Thanks for having me.
Hearing your process, and hearing your thoughts on everything.
And this is her first podcast she's ever done. Julianne. Really? Thank you.
I consume so many podcasts, But like, it is nice that this is my first experience on one. So thanks for having me.
I guess we should talk a little bit about Horse Network and the Horse Network Platform that you work for and that hosts our festival...
It's fantastic. And they're launching all kinds of stuff, So Horse Network is getting bigger all the time, but it's ah, it's basically a platform and a website. But now they have they're doing, like, live streaming of shows. They have their own sets of podcasts. They're connected with EQUUS film festival. Um, they're also really good about equine news. Um, I'm really their essayist and their arts person, but they also do lots and lots of sports coverage. Like, if you want to know who the top person competing at hunter/jumper, at hunters is, they can tell you. If you want to know, you know who did what at Rolex and who got what or what drama about, you know, which activity happened, they know it. Like, they cover everything, and it's really it's impressive, and it's just gotten bigger and bigger. And it seems like it's doing pretty well, considering all the chaos with the world right now. And, you know, they've been good about keeping up with closures and things. So, yeah, that's that's really what Horse Network does. I hope I did people at Horse Network proud. Absolutely. Uh, yeah. I'm also, like, used to being the person who does the interviews like I'm used to asking the questions not answering... I'm like should I talk now, you know? Yeah,
it's fun being on both sides of it, though, isn't it?
Yeah it is
Listen I never did it and Julianne and I have really had a ball doing these.
We just do it like talking. I mean, we just have conversations, and I don't think it would work for us any other way. We can't do the formal sit down things. So it's working for us.
I, like, wanted to the whole time. I'll be like, Can I ask questions? Should I ask? That's like how I roll. I'm like No, tell me about you like we don't need to talk about me... e. I was thinking a lot about Internet trolls when we were talking about this. And I think this also kind of Lisa with what you were saying about, like the helmet police or like other people and one of things that has really helped me with Internet trolls and people who comment on Facebook or wherever is that when people comment, someone taught me this. It's them having feelings about themselves usually. you never super personal. Yeah, it's always usually about them and not about you. And it's also like, strangely esteeming in a way when someone comments because it's going... it's helping them reassess a core belief when they often react.
And if they react, that means they've watched. Yeah, right all you know you can't act, but you're not watching listening.
And I read that somebody never cuts you down that's doing more than you. The people who are trying to cut you down are the ones doing less than you. So somebody thats out doing wonderful things is never going to take the time to say something negative. So that's something to remember, too.
Right? They've got too many things to do.
I have to ask, can we bring you back on when things settle down a little bit? And when you've had times to see more films and we're closer to summer and we know where things are going, can we... can we bring you back on and do a recap and talk some more?
Oh, always. Yeah. This was super fun. Of course! I'm always happy to talk to you guys.
Well, you guys have a nice afternoon at all. Pony on...
Pony on...We'll talk again soon...
Please be sure to tune in next week when Julianne and I have another interesting conversation with one of our EQUUS Film and Arts Fest Filmmakers, Artists or Authors