• Alex Gulland

The Rider

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

Filmed in 1878, ‘The Galloping Horse’ is one of the first motion picture ever made.


Since then horses have been used in countless blockbusters e.g ‘National Velvet,' ‘Black Beauty’ ‘War Horse,' ‘The Horse Whisperer,' ‘Sea Biscuit’ — the list goes on.


Last week I was offered the opportunity to attend a screening of the film ‘The Rider’, which featured many horses and as the name suggest, riders.


‘The Rider’ was screened by the innovative Birds’ Eye View (BEV) agency (www.birds-eye-view.co.uk).


This is a year round agency that campaigns for gender equality in film.


Now in its 15th year, BEV spotlights and celebrates films created by women, and supports women working in film, through training and events.


I was also invited onto the Presenters Panel afterwards, to talk about how I work as an Equine Facilitating Practitioner and my views on the film.


For those of you who have not seen the film, I would urge you to do so, as in my opinion, it is a total ‘one-off’ experience.



The film includes non-professionals playing themselves and tells a gritty story of real cowboys, bull riders and rodeo riders in South Dakota.


Based on a true story, it takes the viewer on a journey where you are invited into the minds of both the characters and the horses.


This is achieved through subtle, seemingly timeless shots and close-ups on both the characters faces and the horses.


‘The Rider’ incorporates great cinematography (Joshua James Richards), by utilising natural light. This really helps to reflect the emotions of Brady Jandreau, who is recuperating from surgery after a near fatal head injury in a rodeo accident.


The Director Chloé Zhao masterly weaves an elegant story of love, loss and the harsh reality of life in that part of the world.


What I loved most about the film was that the horses were all ‘real’, in the sense that they were not portrayed as is usual, as symbolic or representative of a loss of innocence or as characters in an allegorical tale.


When we see Brady in action training horses, we can see for ourselves the importance of being able to develop trust and empathy with our horses, before we ask anything of them.


There are several moments in the film where the horses seem to look directly down the lens and out at the audience.


This has the impression of recreating, for a second, the feeling that you get when a horse connects directly with you. This is a feeling that I will never tire of and I hope to have the honour to experience it frequently through my work as documented at www.contentedpeople.co.uk





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