Mustang Saviors (2020) Movie Script

America, a land full of natural beauty.
A nation whose very soul
is drawn from both its heritage
and its future.
America has also created what is arguably
the most mighty
and technologically advanced
military on the planet.
The reason I joined the military,
I had four great uncles
that served in World War II,
my uncle served in the Army
during Vietnam,
my father was Korean Air,
and it was a sense
of obligation and duty.
So it was my turn.
What brought me to the military
was just always
my incessant need to serve.
I was part of the big draft,
the 50,000-guy draft
from '65 to '67.
I was 17 whenever I joined,
and I wanted
to go prove to myself
that I was a man.
I was drawn to the military
because of a lot of respect
for military,
and I ended up
signing my contract five days
after my 17th birthday.
That's when everything
started to get real.
Let's go!
But coming home from active duty,
some members of our armed forces
face a stark, challenging
and sometimes deadly reality.
Debilitating detachment,
anxiety and depression.
My main job as an infantryman,
as an 11-Charlie, was kill or die.
Now if you can't kill...
what's left?
Anybody who's done combat tours,
they get used to living an environment
where every day is life or death.
You could catch a stray bullet.
RPGs, rockets, mortar attacks,
they happen every day over there.
So your body gets conditioned
to living at high alert,
and when you come back to an environment
where those threats don't exist,
your body just doesn't turn it off.
Get down!
It's totally unacceptable
that men and women
that signed on the dotted line
are left in such a bad spot
that they get so dark
that they have no other options
but to take their own lives.
The struggle has exploded
to epidemic proportions.
As many as 20 veterans per day
are so desperate they lose all hope.
It's not just the combat veterans
coming back today
that are committing
the suicide,
it's also the older guys like me.
The alcohol, the depression,
the drug abuse...
At the
Veterans Administration
in Milwaukee,
Supervisor of Recreation
and Creative Arts Therapy.
Shep Crumrine
has seen the devastation
the wars cause our veterans.
Every 75 minutes,
we lose another veteran.
And so, when
one of those lives is lost,
it's very troubling.
Just the base where I served
in Missouri for nine years
of my active duty career,
thirteen people
I knew and served with
have committed suicide,
from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
Now there's a new sign of hope.
An unlikely, effective
and potent treatment
has emerged.
A remedy that requires
no hospitalization,
no pharmaceutical drugs,
and has been
right under our noses
for hundreds of years.
Two wounded souls
emerging from the wreckage
of trauma.
Battle-scarred but new...
And every healer,
every hero has an origin story.
America's breathtaking landscape
is host of tens of thousands of mustangs.
Wild horses,
a true icon of American freedom.
The very essence of the American spirit.
And now, they offer a new
opportunity for our veterans.
There's something
deeply spiritual about a horse
that no other animal
that I've come across has.
I was a grunt, I was an infantryman,
and I was in both invasions, and it's...
You've got to do a lot of bad stuff.
That's a lot of stuff
to shut off in your head.
You can't really reason with the feeling.
I walked out of the desert
and then I stumbled in life.
Literally stumbling, you know,
from hos...
From the insane asylum to rehabs.
Just the daily anxiety gets so bad
that I didn't leave the house.
Felt like everything was coming at me
and everything
was coming at me way too fast.
I cannot relate
to what the younger generation
has done in the desert,
stood up in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But we can relate on one thing.
We can't un-see
some of the things
that we've seen.
And it's how you deal with it.
You know,
I never anticipated
I would be in a war zone
and, uh, came home
and found out that
some of that stayed with me.
Um, I needed to get
a little bit of comfort.
Luckily for our struggling veterans,
equine therapy
is making inroads to healing.
Three and a half months ago,
I lost my son to drugs,
and the horses
have really helped me
to be relieved
of some of the pain
that's involved in that.
And I can't explain that
because you have to be there
to know what it is, you know?
I tend to have
an A-type personality,
so I'm on the go all the time.
So this gives me
the chance to be calm
and take some of the edge off.
They are vessels that you can
pour your emotions into,
that, you know,
when you walk away from it,
you feel better.
Oh, man, it's beautiful out there.
Just little creeks
and rolling hills,
lots of timber.
Nice trail ride,
up and down some swingbacks.
Did real good.
Did a little bit of trotting
through there,
so it felt really good.
Clayton loves it.
He's free now. He's not
an old ranch horse anymore.
He's in the therapeutic program
and helping the veterans out.
He's loving it as much as I am.
Although equine therapy
is just now starting to get
a mainstream foothold
in healing our veterans,
the idea of horses for healing
is not altogether new.
Horses have long
proven to be healers
of many an injured soul.
Just outside of Chicago,
Marge Gunnar
founded BraveHearts,
one of the many
equine therapy centers
across the country
that are helping mend
our country's citizens.
The reason
that I started BraveHearts
was in 1993,
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
It was a pretty devastating diagnosis.
During the time
that I was going through chemo,
my oldest sister,
who has passed away now,
wanted to take me up to see my stallion.
And I went into his barn,
where he was in training,
I went up to him
and I put my arms
around his neck
and I buried my face
in his mane
and I started to sob,
and that horse did something
he never did before.
He just wrapped
his neck around me and squeezed.
So that's when the inspiration
to start BraveHearts
came into my mind,
because I felt
this healing connection
to an animal.
And the program started.
Though the program
shares a similar name
with a famous motion picture,
the two are not related.
Horseman and trainer, Paddy McKevitt,
is a former farrier for the US Olympics.
He has an affinity
for the healing being done
at facilities like BraveHearts.
I first met Meggan,
our president and COO,
and I went over to
a little program
that she was at at the time,
where some kids that were all amputees,
and I had a little zebra
that I had gentled
and got along with and could ride.
And she asked me to bring it over there
just 'cause they were there
for a week-long camp.
And when I started to be around
people that were using horses
in a beneficial way to the human,
I was like, "Wow,
this is way more valuable."
"This is really
the purpose of a horse."
You know, my background
is working with children
with various diagnoses
and using equine therapy for that.
I've gotten to see horses
helping, you know,
a child learn to walk
and a child learn to talk.
And I mean, all of that
has been just phenomenal
to get to witness firsthand,
and got introduced
to working with veterans
and just was riveted by it.
I'm a Gold Star father,
so it kind of, you know,
it's the deepest, darkest day
that you can have
when you lose a child in war.
And that's what happened to us.
And by having him, he just...
He turned everything around
and he showed us
a different way
of doing things.
And, um, instead of going
to the edge every night,
you know, going
to the edge of that cliff,
there's something else here.
HILL-McQUEENY: When somebody
comes up and says,
"This horse saved my life"
and then you hear it twice,
and then you hear it five times,
then you hear it dozens.
When you think about somebody
that has been through something
that I can't even imagine
and that they can come back
because of a horse,
that's pretty huge.
Navy veteran
Mary Apper
was declining rapidly
when she finally found solace
at the BraveHearts ranch.
When I went to Afghanistan,
I did Detainee Ops,
and then I was a 240-Bravo gunner.
And, you know,
you see a lot of stuff
over there,
and you kind of lock it away,
you compartmentalize it.
But when I came back, I was pretty angry.
Had a lot of hate in my heart.
I talked to my mom about it,
and my family,
of course, was worried.
Twenty veterans a day commit suicide.
You talk to congressmen
and you say, you know,
at the end of every week,
if you took 140 people
at the end of seven days,
that's about the size
of a small plane crashing.
If you crashed a plane every Sunday,
you know Congress
would do something about it.
I lost one of my brothers
from the Air Force,
and we'd known each other
for over 20 years.
And, uh, nobody knows why,
but, one night,
he got intoxicated
and he shot himself.
Even members of the military police
are not shielded
from the harm and trauma
a war can bring.
Jenny McDonald
was in charge of the captured
enemy combatants in Iraq.
At any time, we can be used
as infantry to provide security.
And doing my job,
which was we ended up setting up
and running the very first
prison camp in Iraq.
We were going on very little sleep,
we were getting mortared,
and I became angry.
I was angry at these...
These people in front of me.
They were threatening my family.
They were threatening me.
They were telling me
they were gonna come back
and get me.
We were sitting here
watching these prisoners
who were bragging about
what they were doing
to our fellow brothers and sisters
and what they wanted to do to us
and to our families.
And people changed.
My mother noticed it on the phone.
You know, I'd be calling
at 2:00 in the morning,
the prisoners would be rioting,
and the first thing
she would say to me is,
"Jen, I love you so much.
"Please stop yelling
and, dear God,
stop swearing so much."
And I had no idea that...
I didn't even think
that I was talking loud.
This was how we talked to each other,
and it's definitely how I was at work.
In the military, you go to boot camp,
you're changed forever,
whether you experience combat or not,
because there's a commitment
and a violation sometimes of your soul,
your, um, you know...
You have violated
that on purpose,
and that's hard to live with.
When I was in Afghanistan,
we were taking a lot of fire.
I got a group of four.
One of 'em was running away
and, uh, I couldn't,
I couldn't just take him out.
I had to let him go.
Give him a chance.
Dumbest mistake of my life.
We were walking,
we were gonna come
down the mountain.
That's when I got hit by the RPG.
It didn't directly hit me,
but it was enough to concuss me
and mess me up.
And, uh, backpack was half ripped off.
Bullets are flying all around.
The guy that ran away, came back
and finally got behind this rock.
Turned up, shot four shots.
Last one was a tracer round.
And I saw it disappear
right into his side.
He wasn't moving after that.
The helicopter came over
and was checking all the bodies
and, uh, told me
his heat sensor
was going to blue.
And, uh, yeah,
six confirmed kills that night.
I had ended up
getting medevac'd
to Landstuhl in Germany.
I had a shrink,
we were de-processing,
or whatever they call it,
and she asked me how I felt
about the prisoners,
these same guys that were
threatening my family
and currently still were.
And she didn't say anything.
I got off the plane in the United States
and they put us into two lines.
Everyone else got to go to
a barracks-type situation.
Us in the shorter line
went to a mental hospital,
where I spent six hours
begging and pleading
and telling them anything I could
to make them let me out.
I'll never forget the chains
wrapped around the door.
I, um...
I was given a discharge
from the military,
and I took that pretty hard.
I hit rock bottom.
I got a call from my friend
and I looked at it
and I didn't answer it.
I just thought,
"Okay, I'm gonna
call him later."
He committed suicide right after that.
He was gonna call me.
I didn't pick up the phone.
People always tell you
it's not your fault.
You couldn't have prevented it.
I still hold that blame.
McDONALD: I did my best
to go back to normal.
Had a job at a grocery store.
And I was just so angry all the time
that it affected
absolutely every aspect
of my life.
I didn't fit with people.
I couldn't talk to them the right way.
A 15-minute conversation with somebody,
I would just sweat through my clothes.
I was so...
I just wanted to run.
I had several years
of just drinking a lot,
and making a lot of mistakes
and hurting the people
that I really care about.
Alcoholism and substance abuse,
it's a natural phenomenon
coming out of the military.
That is certainly a comorbid
or a corresponding diagnosis to,
I'm gonna just guess
it's over 90 percent,
95 percent.
That may not be
what we're seeing them for,
but it's somewhere in the mix.
As much as I may have
not wanted to live anymore,
and it began to show in...
At one point I was 89 pounds and...
probably wasn't too far
from dying, the way it was.
I knew I couldn't do that
to my little brother.
Well, last August,
I had to put my mare down
that I'd had for 24 years.
And she was really the way
I was kind of dealing
with my PTSD.
I grew up with her,
went to college with her,
You know, 2:00,
3:00 in the morning
I'd go out there,
I'd sleep next to her stall,
ride her at midnight.
She was just there whenever I needed her.
But my mom told me, she's like,
"You have more love
in your heart
for your mare, Satin,"
"than any amount of hate
they could have put there."
So when she passed away,
it was like
everything was gone.
Kind of went to a pretty dark place.
Um, wasn't really sure
I wanted to be around anymore.
So my mom was the one
that really pushed me.
She's like,
"You need to go out there
and at least give 'em a shot."
When I first got here,
I wasn't even sure
I was gonna stay.
I met up with Meggan
and she started giving me
a tour around the property,
just trying to get me to talk.
She didn't talk down to me.
You know, a lot of times,
when you have PTSD,
a lot of people tend to, like,
talk in a slower voice
or a baby voice
or kind of, like,
walk on pins and needles.
But she just treated me like
I was just a normal person
coming here interested in horses.
You know, just
a horsewoman-to-horsewoman
And I saw CeCe,
which is the little
Quarter Horse mare.
And so I was talking to Meggan there,
and I kind of ended up
breaking down a little bit,
telling her about what was going on,
and CeCe had reached over the fence
and nuzzled my cheek when I was crying.
So, of course, that, like,
just melts you.
So I kind of got attached to CeCe.
And I was like,
"Well, maybe I'll go
out there again."
So, I thought about it for a couple days,
ended up emailing Meg and I was like,
"Hey, do you have a picture
of that little filly?"
And so she sent me a picture of CeCe.
And I was looking at it,
waited a couple more days,
and then was like,
"I'm gonna go out there."
So she was just kind of waiting here
for, you know,
her special person
to come along.
So, I started coming out here
on a regular basis,
and then it just escalated from there.
I just completely got sucked in,
and, you know, found a purpose again.
Good girl.
I had a plan
that I was gonna end my life
in four days.
And then I was like,
"All right, I'll ride once."
I rode, so I put off the suicide.
After riding, then I was like,
"Okay, well,
I need to put this off
even more"
"'cause next week
I get to ride."
My therapist, who I was lucky to find,
a combat vet herself,
she recommended that I come out
on a weekend trip
to BraveHearts for a retreat.
And I thought, "I like horses."
"I never really got to ride,"
"but okay, I can put up
with people for this."
"Cool. Let's go to the farm
for the weekend."
My whole attitude changed
before I even got here.
The ride out to this farm is beautiful.
We got here, I saw the beautiful red barn
and the horses.
Pretty much anyone who goes
the first time goes back.
Keep going.
Keep going.
Keep going. Atta boy.
All right, you can stop.
Equine therapy.
It's an unspoken relationship
and sensory experience that occurs.
And what makes it so worthwhile
is when you work with a veteran
and you see them
reconnect with life.
These horses have helped to get me sober.
I've seen 'em heal people
from inside out.
I saw a child with autism
that had only spoken
four times in her life,
and I watched her speak
over and over again,
and I watched her mother
with tears running
down her face of joy,
and, uh, that flipped me upside down
and it made me know
that I wanted to do this
for the rest of my life.
As far as the benefits
that you get from horses,
it doesn't matter
how much experience you have.
You could have never
touched a horse before
or you could have been around
horses your whole life.
The experience that you get
and the feeling that you get
with them is the same.
Opens up your heart.
And you don't need experience for that.
You get out to the barn
and you get in there
and you take that deep breath
and you latch on,
knowing your body movements,
knowing the horse movements,
knowing the ear movements,
how they're holding their head,
what their eyes are doing,
the switch of the tail,
and you become part
of that spirit of that horse.
Yeah, there's nothing
in the world like it.
You know, I like to
think about 'em as
angels covered in fur,
and that's exactly what they are.
You know, they fill in the holes
for what people have going on.
Those horses just pour it into every hole
of whatever you have,
whatever your needs are,
wherever you're short that day,
they're gonna teach you,
they're gonna show you,
they're gonna help you.
Horses are herd animals.
It's extremely traumatic for individuals
to be separated
from their herds and families.
Many of our veterans
suffer the same
painful separation,
realizing they no longer fit in society.
Isolation is the big threat to veterans.
Uh, it results in suicide.
It results in decompensation.
It results in depression.
It results in not taking
your medications,
or taking them inappropriately.
I've had a very hard road,
and upon returning home,
I came to hell.
I slept on the garage floor for two days.
I spiraled down a deep hole
that was really hard
to get out of.
I was an Air Force veteran.
I did four tours over
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, uh, I had problems.
I had issues when I came home.
I was trying to reintegrate
back into civilian society.
I wouldn't say I was real bad PTSD.
I had anxiety and sleep disorder.
I couldn't sleep.
I'd be up, you know,
several days at a time sometimes.
And at the time,
I didn't have anything to do
or anywhere to go.
I ended up back
at my parents' house,
you know, in my thirties.
So, uh, you know, it's hard to go
from an environment
where you're told
when to get up,
where to go, when to be there,
what to do every day.
So it's a regimen.
And then to having
just all this natural freedom,
you know, that you're not
expected or aware of.
It's hard sometimes
to deal with human beings,
especially when you have PTSD,
such as myself.
And so, I had to go back and start over,
and, um,
when a horse saved my life...
I'm a different person.
While equine therapy
can be extremely effective,
there's a remarkable magic
when experiencing
a wild mustang straight off the range.
My favorite part of the programming
of everything that we do
here at BraveHearts
is the wild mustangs.
Reach in underneath him
and just put your heart close
to his heart there.
I'm here with you,
so you don't
have to worry about it.
Now, I want you to drop the rope,
and I want you
to reach underneath his neck
with your left hand.
I want you
to bend down a little bit
and get close to him.
So can you imagine
that little horse
was completely wild?
Pick the rope up.
Just go in there and pick it up.
You're totally fine.
There you go. You're fine.
Stand up tall. There you go.
Now walk across
the front of him and shake
the rope at the same time.
There you go. Keep walking.
Keep walking to your right.
Keep walking to your right.
Keep walking to your right.
Keep walking to your right.
Now walk to your left.
There you go. Look at that.
McKEVITT: Whoa-ho!
And go back in the center.
You got some fancy moves going there.
Just like a ballerina.
At BraveHearts, Meggan Hill-McQueeny
has spearheaded an effort
to acquire horses
from the wild
in order to supercharge
the veterans' improvement.
Her program is aptly named
Operation Mustang.
The whole idea
that I had behind that phrase
was just to let the public
know the concept
to connect a wild horse
and a veteran.
Fred "Cowboy" Busby didn't exactly plan
on getting involved with wild mustangs.
My motorcycle club
was looking for someplace
to give our donations locally
instead of nationwide.
Meggan looked at Cowboy and said,
"Would you like
to get in the round pen?"
And Cowboy was his road name
'cause he's always wore
cowboy boots.
He's not a real cowboy.
He's been on a horse before,
like I had been,
once in a while.
But they want us to put a helmet on
and go in with a wild mustang.
And I looked at Cowboy and I said,
"You're on, man.
You're more photogenic
than I am, you know.
"If anybody is gonna die,
it's gonna be you first."
"But I'll jump the fence,
come and get you
and pull your body out,"
"you know, being the marine
that I am, you know."
So Cowboy helmets up and goes in there
and this mustang
yields and crosses
and looks at Cowboy,
and then Paddy and Meggan tell Cowboy,
"Turn around
and don't look at him
and stand right there."
And this mustang
had only touched
a couple other people,
that's how wild the mustang was.
I'm standing there watching it,
and I go, "Well,
that's the dumbest thing
I would do."
"I'd never turn my back
on a wild horse, you know?"
But they're telling him
it's okay and he's doing it,
dumb jarhead.
Old Cowboy turns his back
and he's standing there,
and he's just like,
"Well, what am I
supposed to do now?"
And it's like,
"Shh, just be quiet,
relax, be neutral."
And what happens next
is that mustang comes up
and slowly walks up behind Cowboy
because he's accepted
that Cowboy is the leader
of the herd.
He's gonna follow Cowboy.
This thing actually
came over, breathed in,
like, gave me a nudge
and the light came
from the heaven
through the windows...
The harps played.
It was one of the most
phenomenal things I'd ever seen.
And then all of a sudden,
they tell Cowboy,
"Go ahead and walk on."
And Cowboy walks
and that horse follows him
all the way around the round pen.
That's where we got hooked.
The knowledge that you're
getting into the round pen
with a wild animal
that a month, a year ago now,
was running wild.
And I jokingly say
it's no different than standing
in the middle
of a busy intersection
directing traffic.
You're crazy to be
standing in the middle
of the intersection,
but you're up,
but at the same time,
you're calm.
How can a wild horse
be grazing on the range one day
and then suddenly end up
in an equine therapy facility?
The answer is disquieting
and extremely controversial.
The government gathers
the horses in a round up,
using helicopters
to terrify them into a trap.
The wild horses are the responsibility
of the Department of Interior's
Bureau of Land Management,
the BLM.
In other words,
they are government property
owned by the American people.
in this operation,
we're using a helicopter.
Sometimes we use bait and water,
but this operation is a helicopter.
What we do is we have locations
where the populations
are higher than in some areas,
where they congregate more.
We kind of pick those areas
to really work on.
And we'll set up wings,
which is, you know,
basically come into a V,
it's made with jute,
and then it'll come into some panels
and the panel will have a certain pens
and we're able to sort the horses.
So what happens is
the helicopter goes out,
finds a group of horses
and herds them towards the V
or the wings.
And once it gets over to the wings,
we'll have a prattle horse
or Judas horse,
the contractor will,
which stays ahead of the herd.
And when they start to see
Judas horse or prattle horse,
you know, they'll let it go,
and the wild horse
will follow the prattle horse,
come into the trap itself,
we'll close the gates behind.
It's pretty tragic what can happen.
These horses are being chased for miles.
They're scared.
They're being pushed into small traps.
This is a hell for them.
They are very reliant on their families
and, you know,
who they travel with
and stay with.
And so, when they're removed
from that scenario,
and when you watch them actually peel,
you know,
one horse out of a group of,
you know, 400-500 horses,
and you just watch how that horse loses.
You know, he loses everything.
DeMAYO: I've seen horses jump,
you know, out of chutes,
or over seven-foot walls
to get back to their herd.
Their sentiment beings,
they're deeply emotional
and bonded to each other.
And their survival depends
on how they interact
with the larger herd community.
So they have their family
and social bands
that are naturally selected,
and then they're all part
of a larger herd community
in the regions that they live in.
The BLM's
multi-use management model
of public lands
is creating a competition
between industry and wildlife.
BLM is a multi-use agency.
So, if you think about this,
in a common area,
you've an got an acre of land,
and every single piece
of that land
is allocated to something.
Anything from wildlife
to plants to wild horses
to even the discretionary acts
of oil and gas,
cattle, mining, all of those.
You've got
natural wildlife out here,
we've got sensitive plants,
and when one thing goes
over their allocated amount,
you have the domino effect.
It affects everything else.
Our natural places
are being stripped from us
and in the middle
of that battle
there are heart beats,
living things
that are casualties of that war.
Wild horses are one of those casualties.
And then
seeing those animals
caged and corralled,
it breaks your heart.
It breaks a lot of people's hearts.
And it's why a lot of people
are spending their life
defending the wild horse.
One of the saddest things
that I saw while undercover
working with wild horses on the range
was seeing the herds of wild horses
being rounded up
and chased down by choppers,
and those choppers going right by
thousands of head of cattle,
and leaving the cows,
but not the wild mustang.
It broke my heart,
and it breaks
a lot of people's hearts.
DeMAYO: America was
the birthplace of the horse.
A lot of people aren't even aware
that there are
wild horses left in America.
There is some dispute
about today's wild horses
not being native to America.
Let's have a history lesson.
Fossils of the first
primitive wild horses
were discovered in Idaho
that dated back
3.5 million years.
Subsequent fossils show the horse thrived
all the way
up until the Ice Age
about 10,000 years ago
until they went extinct in North America.
But with the arrival of Columbus in 1492,
horses were reintroduced
to the continent.
They became our valued partners
to help build American society
for centuries.
They embody the spirit in all of us,
and, you know, this country
was founded with their help,
and they are such
an integral part of the story
of the American West.
After World War I,
the military's horse-drawn transportation
was completely replaced
by gasoline vehicles.
No longer of value to the Army,
thousands of horses and burros
were released into the wild.
But unfettered slaughter and capture
saw the mustang population
rapidly disappearing.
To protect this majestic icon
of the American West,
in 1971,
President Nixon signed
the Free-Roaming
Wild Horses and Burros Act,
making it illegal to interfere
with the wild horses.
The act allows
the US government
to set limits
for horse populations on given areas.
This number is called an
Appropriate Management Level
or AML.
At the BLM's discretion,
the excess animals are removed
to maintain these limits.
DeMAYO: For almost 50 years,
capture and removal has been
the main management policy
to manage populations on the range,
and it hasn't been working.
And the cost for taking care
of these is astronomical.
So we're gonna have
to end this cycle somehow.
The best way to help these animals
is not to touch 'em at all,
to leave 'em on the ranges
exactly where they belong.
We need to look at, like,
what can this land sustain?
How many horses can be out here before
this land is, you know, overgrazed?
If they're talking about
rounding up 130,000 horses
from these areas where
they're overpopulated, possibly,
there may be other areas
where there are no horses
that they could be turned out on to.
If there's a lack of natural predators,
I think that we have a tool now
that has been proven
to be safe and humane,
and that's the reversible,
non-hormonal fertility control.
And I think that
most minimally intrusive
methods necessary
to manage populations,
healthy populations
on the range
is the direction for the future.
But for now,
the violent roundups continue.
takes steps to reduce
the number of horses
held in their permanent holding pens.
Many horses are spayed and neutered
and then released back into the wild.
The majority of horses
removed from their land
are currently living
in off-range holding facilities
hoping for placement.
That's all we do
is find homes for these guys.
We're kind of like social workers.
We are emotionally invested
in this program.
And the number one priority of the BLM
is to find good long-term homes
for these horses.
We're funded through Congress.
We have to take orders from Congress.
But I can tell you,
we will do the best we can
to make sure these guys get good homes.
And there is a market out there.
People want these horses.
They are flying
from different countries
to see them.
As with the returning veterans,
the mustangs have now lost their identity
and find themselves
in an unfamiliar world.
Now in captivity away from the range,
the only home
the wild mustangs
have ever known,
they must come to terms
with a new way of living.
When they first come in,
you can see
they're pretty fearful.
They're pretty traumatized.
I always think of them
as most of the veterans
that come here.
They don't trust a lot of people.
They're very, very fearful
of certain things.
I just see so many common traits
between the wild horse
and the veterans.
You think about these mustangs.
They were hurt, rounded up,
never been touched.
The only interaction that they get
is when someone
puts a freeze brand on them.
And then they're stuck
in these cages
until someone gets them.
McDONALD: Getting
in the round pen with Paddy
and him telling me
about wild mustangs
and how they live
and how they perceive stuff,
I'm sitting there going,
"Wow, they're exactly like
every combat veteran I know."
We're just like that.
We've had bad interactions,
we're stuck out in this big pen
called the world,
and we don't know what to do.
Got out of military
and wasn't happy coming back.
And being an addictive person,
you know, the drugs and alcohol
always played a role.
And killing myself, man.
My liver's just about gone
as it is,
and finally realized
that what I was feeling
and what I was doing
to myself emotionally
and my stress levels and, you know,
to put a wild mustang
that's been rounded up
and going through hell
and been castrated
and branded
and inoculated and aged
and then thrown into a pen
in the middle of nowhere
after being caught up
after being wild for so long,
without their herd,
they're lost souls.
And that's where I was at.
McKEVITT: Reach up
and give him
a little rub on his neck.
There you go.
The men and women that come here
don't want
to make these horses
feel uncomfortable.
So, they have
to adjust their own behavior
because they're getting,
through a bio-feedback loop
from the horse in the moment,
they're getting information
that could provide
that's non-verbal.
So it's not a doctor
sitting there telling 'em.
It's not cognitive therapy.
They've heard that all before.
Then they can't make the adjustments.
But as they start to practice it
with one of these wild horses,
it becomes second nature,
and they make the adjustments
in other areas of their lives.
I didn't realize
how much my anxiety affected my behavior,
how much it affected
the people around me.
And when you're working with horses,
your energy level,
your behavior,
everything you do
affects the horse
that you're working with.
And so, the value for me is
I've learned
just how much my anxiety level
affects how well I can work with a horse,
how well a horse will work with me.
They are truly afraid for their lives.
And when you do something,
they scream the answer to you.
And it shows people
exactly if they're doing it
right or wrong.
HILL-McQUEENY: The wild side
of them
is what benefits
a lot of veterans the most
and that's the part that's so beneficial
that the veterans want to be
a part of that front end
with that horse,
that whole trust-building.
A lot of people are gonna be like,
"Well, you can't have a mustang
with you all the time."
So, it's a process that you get to learn,
and you can take that
with you wherever you go.
It's another tool in your toolbox
for whenever
you're about to freak out
in the grocery store.
I think that because
I am so much more aware
of my anxiety when it creeps up on me,
I have been able
to manage it much better now
everywhere else in the world.
That makes so much sense.
You've got horses with PTSD
and a veteran with PTSD,
and bingo, there's the starting point.
There's a language there,
and it's a respect,
and one might be scared
and one might be too aggressive,
but then, they learn how to mirror that
in themselves and in each other.
And they produce this, I think,
a great example
for each other to live by.
McDONALD: This mustang, Hero,
he became a project of mine.
He wasn't getting a lot of attention.
Nobody really wanted to work with him.
When I first met him,
he would just stand
in his stall, or enclosure,
with his head in the corner
and basically telling you,
"Go away or I'm gonna kick you."
He wanted nothing to do with people.
He had no interest in approaching
or being touched at all.
But Hero especially,
there was just something
in this horse.
I've spent so many hours
just talking to him,
singing to him
and, uh, eventually,
he let me
sit in his pen with him
because it was raining.
And he could have
gotten upset about that.
And we probably spent two hours
just kind of hanging out
and his head got lower
and he just stared at me,
and after a while, he came over
and he just started
to check me out
with his nose,
he was smelling everything,
and that was the first time
I was able to really
touch his face
to really, really pet him.
And he has these soft,
sweet eyes that just say,
"I really want to trust.
Please don't let me down."
These are sentient beings,
and when you have an opportunity
to live around them
and to watch their very subtle,
yet deep, interactions,
profoundly connected to each other,
and how subtle and how well
they work together
as a community,
we have a lot to learn
from them. A lot to learn.
Anybody who has
made the decision
to be a part
of a facility like this
has released a little bit
of maybe their ego
or a little bit of their fear.
Opened theirselves up.
There's wonderful organizations
out there.
There's the VA and there's the VFW
and there's any number
of veterans' organizations
you can participate in.
I had tried them,
but I never got really
in-depth with them
because I didn't feel
that it was comfortable enough
for me
to spend that much time
with those organizations.
But when I came out
to BraveHearts
and I saw the vets,
and I saw...
the need that they have for these horses.
And the vets,
I watched the vets
get on these horses
and I see them... change.
They want the knowledge,
they want the experience.
And when I work with the general public,
you've always got the person
who's defensive.
I thought, "Well, I'll go
and I'll participate."
"Maybe I can help out some other vets,"
and in the process
discovered that it helped me.
I still have
a lot of stuff to work through,
a lot of anger, a lot of dark thoughts.
But this place is my life.
Like, this place is where
I can come and reset myself.
I could be in the worst mood,
I could be in the worst spot,
the darkest spot,
and when I come out here
and work with, you know, CeCe
and then some of the mustangs,
it just, it melts away.
It's the only thing
that makes it
completely melt away.
I'm out here
probably 60 hours a week
'cause I just love it.
And I see on a daily basis
veterans come through the farm over here
and show up
with the weight of the world
on their shoulders
and the steely eyes,
and I watch them
go through a metamorphosis
and become uplifted
as soon as they touch a horse,
whether it be a mustang
or one of our therapy horses,
and the smile just gets
bigger and bigger.
Pretty soon, their whole mouth is open.
All you can see is teeth
and they're laughing
and they're talking
and they're being social with people.
McKEVITT: I grew up
in a little town called Newry
in Northern Ireland,
right on the border
between the Republic
and the North.
Growing up in a place
where security was very high,
it was a war zone.
The '70s and the early '80s
were war zones
in parts of Northern Ireland.
And I went through
some really tough struggles
in my own life
trying to overcome
some problems with alcohol
and I didn't know
what I was gonna do
to carry on.
And there was nothing
really inspired me
to get up in the morning,
and I got to a spot
that I never thought
I'd get to in my life.
And it was one horse in particular,
a horse that we have
in the program here
called Wyatt,
that I bought out in Montana
from a guy
that wasn't very nice to him
and had abused him,
and when I got him back here,
I realized how petrified
of people that he was.
You'd go into a stall
to catch this horse,
and he would literally
bang off the walls
to get away from you.
You know, that probably
is partly the reason
why I'm so passionate
about working with the veterans,
is because
the one thing I thought
about that inspired me
to get out of bed
was that I felt empathy
for that horse,
and I felt bad for him,
and it made me
want to get up and figure out
a way to help him.
It was that journey with Wyatt
that started me thinking
of horses in a different way.
And I went around the country
working with different
men and women
that had a different approach to horses
because all I wanted to do
was make him feel better.
Well, I thought I was saving the horse.
You know, look where it has landed me.
I started my business then,
taking in horses
that people were thinking
were bad horses,
but basically were horses
that had people problems,
that people didn't really know
how to get along with them.
One of the reasons
the mustangs begin
to trust their captors
is due to the powerful
new psychology
of horse training.
You know, traditional ways
was pretty firm, pretty violent,
pretty dominating, pretty dictating.
The horse didn't have
an option in anything.
You know, bigger chains, bigger ropes.
Tie 'em down, blindfold 'em, do whatever
until they conform out of fear
and just do what's being
demanded of 'em.
People just took advantage
of the power they had
and would force the horse to do things.
It's just so rough
and hard and dangerous.
It took a while for me
to understand what was going on
because I didn't know
what therapeutic riding was,
I didn't know what hippotherapy was.
It was John Wayne movies for me.
Well, we're all here.
Let 'em roll!
I thought that,
"Well, they got wild mustangs."
I said, "Boy, I can't wait till we go out"
"and we lasso 'em up
and tie 'em to a pole"
"and beat the cane out of 'em."
I go, "It'll be like
boot camp again for me.
This'll be great."
"Let's beat on some horses,
throw a saddle on"
"and we're gonna ride
like John Wayne."
And that's why they called it
"breakin' horses."
They broke their spirit down.
When I eliminated,
or learned to eliminate that
out of it,
and that the horse
had a perspective in it,
then you could live
in the moment and read what
the horse was given you back.
We had a great revolution in horsemanship
really starting in the '70s,
but not really seeing it
until the '80s and '90s,
where we had Tom Dorrance
and Ray Hunt come out
and made good horsemanship,
quiet, humane treatment of horses popular
and how much you can do with 'em.
And it's much better.
It's much faster, much better,
much longer-lasting
These horses
learn to follow our direction
because it's a good deal for them.
They're not gonna find any more pressure.
I actually think mustangs
are the most intelligent horses
that I have ever encountered.
The mustangs,
through the generations
of being out in the wild
and having to fend for themselves
and learning
where it is you can eat,
learning what you can eat,
learning what animal is okay
and what animal isn't okay,
once they come into captivity,
that intelligence translates
to training.
And they found out that working
with horses quietly
and teaching them instead of making them,
the horse was so much better-minded,
co-operative, dependent, consistent.
Just a happy,
good-minded horse
that anybody can work with,
by using those methods.
A way I like to do it
is set on a skid
or set on the ground,
put the hay on you, make them come to you
and they have to eat and come to a human.
And then from there,
I would slowly take the hay
in my hands
and make 'em eat it
and come to me to get food.
And so I just put a little pressure.
Once he takes that step,
let the pressure
and then let him go,
take a step and then let the pressure.
And let him know it's good.
And he goes straight back.
I don't need to pull or nothing.
I'm making
that exaggerated movement
like this and say, "We go back.
"We go back,"
and we take a step back
and say, "Whoa, whoa."
And then like this, whoa.
You have to have patience.
Um, it's a daily thing.
Whether it's raining, snow, sleet, hail,
you need to work your horse
and bond with it.
Go outside. Bundle up.
Put a raincoat on.
Whatever you need to do
to keep that connection going.
And I always came out with great results
of gentling 'em that way,
to get 'em to build their trust.
Once you remove the fear,
the mustangs think,
operate, work and train
just like any other horse.
aren't the only ones
healing from wild horses.
Come on.
Let her go!
Run her out! Run her out!
Bruce Inman
runs an equestrian program
in Ohio for youth at risk.
I work with
a lot of at-risk families'
kids, teens,
a lot of situations with the courts,
and just people that have had
hard times in their lives,
especially young people.
Kids just are naturally
drawn to something like this.
So it gives me the opportunity
to really find out
what's going on in their life
and give them an understanding
that there's more to life
than some of the things
that they've had
to suffer through.
Ivy, Bruce's foster daughter,
has seen her share of challenges,
but is now making great strides in life.
Her past is very, very difficult
with a mother who died
of a heroin overdose,
a father in prison.
Just had a lot of things
going against her.
So horses sparked a new life in her,
has given her a hope,
has given her a chance.
And they can just really heal each other.
I am training Lima, the mustang.
And at first,
she really didn't want anything
to do with humans.
Attention span was really short.
She didn't want to work
with anybody, honestly.
First step's gaining the trust.
She's learned how to control the horse
with as little effort as possible.
You can muscle, you can break a horse,
or you can really just gentle a horse.
And now she's really loving.
She likes the attention
and she wants to be with people
all the time now.
Really curious, too.
Curious about things
and I guess that's what
makes her willing
to try new things.
If I'm hammering nails at a fence,
you're gonna have her nose right there,
where other horses might be
taking off as far away
from that hammer as they can be.
They're just so curious.
And they want to be with people.
She's fun
and she's kind
and very willing.
She's smart.
Extremely smart.
They just...
I don't know,
like they don't want to be
out in the wild anymore.
They want to know
that somebody's there
to feed 'em
and take care of 'em.
You know, they depend on you
and it's a great bond.
They transform, actually.
We've taken in
an enormous amount of horses
that have been
deemed dangerous
and unhandleable,
and lots of people have said
they should be euthanized
for safety's sake,
for their own safety
and for the safety
of people around them,
and we have never
had that experience
when they arrive with us.
And I think mustangs
have a very strong
fight-or-flight instinct,
and the kind of weird
spiritual axiom of it
is that when you give them
a lot of space,
they often choose
to make a connection with you.
So there is nothing more special to me
to take in a wild horse that is so wild
and demands so much space
between you and them,
for them to come kind of a full 180
back to, actually,
their natural curiosity
and seeing other horses
interact with you,
maybe that are more gentle,
just kind of overcomes them in the end
and you'll suddenly
find them right there
and touching them.
It never, it never gets old.
Give me kisses.
Who's a good girl?
Who's a good girl?
DeMAYO: I think
one of the things
that's so powerful for me
when I'm with the horses,
and I'm just with them,
you fall into a different rhythm
because what that is about is connection.
She's such
a friendly little filly.
Like, she loves this.
And this kind of incorporates
into the training that we do.
You know, the sense of touch.
We mimic brushing.
So when we go up
and we touch around their face
rubbing of the eyes,
we do a lot of rubbing of the ears
just to get 'em used to touch,
and they really start
to crave it after a while.
You know, the process is,
we're going to teach the horse
with the proper care
for the horse's needs,
so that minimal effort
is required to get the horse
to do what you want it to do.
I mean, it's being so calm
and so quiet and so nice
to that horse
that he can feel your heart
beating right there
in your hand.
If a regular horse sees
through a regular lens,
a mustang sees through a 20-X lens.
He sees everything so much more sharply
because that's their need
to survive in the wild.
But one of the things
about mustangs
is they can be quite nippy
'cause that's a natural thing for them.
I'm grooming her
and she's gonna
want to try to groom me,
and, really, you just
stay out of their way.
We don't do anything
you know, to punish them
for a natural behavior that they have.
We just stay out of their way.
And if one happens
to catch us, then of course,
we all tease each other about it.
Don't bite my butt!
You goofball.
I like this mustang right here.
He's got a lot of character to him.
He's not real easy.
I'd like to love him, but I also like,
"Okay, gotta set
some boundaries."
And that sometimes is hard for me.
Let's hear
a big round of applause
for Ryan Ohrmundt.
-It's okay.
-Come on.
No, no, no, this way.
Come on, dude. Atta boy!
Every horse,
it has its own agenda,
its own schedule.
Some, you can do in a day
and some, you know,
we still haven't ridden yet.
And we try to work
peacefully within that.
Whatever's comfortable
for the horse
is what we're looking for.
I mean,
it makes you feel so good
that this horse
that lived out on the range wild,
that was completely skeptical
of people not long ago,
is trusting you enough to follow you.
In other words,
putting his life in your hands.
And they put all their trust in us
to hook on and follow us willingly
without us asking or manipulating
or bribing them to do it.
You feel it in the moment when you do it.
When you make the connection
and they start,
it's pretty empowering.
They're prey animals,
and yet, they allow us
to ride them.
They allow us to connect with them.
And they have a deep desire
for connection,
and they have a deep curiosity.
And I think if you set up
the right environment
and you build that relationship,
we are social mammals,
they're social mammals, and it can work.
The idea that they're massive animals,
they're big animals, you know?
And when you see 'em from a distance,
you don't realize
how much of an animal,
you know, is there.
But when you realize how gentle they are,
right, because they'll come to you
and they'll attach themselves to you
without any real expectation
in return, you know?
It's just,
"You want to ride me? Fine."
"If you want to ride me well,
that's a different story."
You know?
You gotta do a little work.
You about done, buddy?
I honestly would prefer
a wild mustang
over a domestic horse any day.
That bond is unbreakable,
and it's like they want to have a home,
and they want to have a purpose,
where more domestic horses,
they're already domesticated.
They really could care less.
Mustangs are...
are a spirit.
They are the spirit.
When you have to walk
30 miles a day to eat
and then walk 30 miles back
to get something to drink,
and you do it day in and day out
and you have to survive
and you have to be on watch,
and you have to be part of a herd,
and communicating
and relating to one another.
It's the spiritual thing
about that horse.
The older ones we're finding
are just phenomenal teachers.
This is Booyah.
Um, he became the oldest known
by BLM, documented,
to be adopted and ridden.
And, uh, he was
a 20-year-old stallion
when they caught him.
HILL-McQUEENY: That horse,
when we went in the office
and said
how old is he and so forth
and we selected and they said,
"You don't want him.
Everybody's been asking
about him
"'cause he was beautiful, but he's 20,"
"and there's, like, 4,000 others."
"So, go pick another one."
at that moment we were kind of like,
"Well, we gotta have him.
That's the one we want."
He's got markings all over him,
and a lot of people
are like, "Oh, he's got
beautiful markings,"
and then you go,
"Those are all scars."
Hundreds of scars
from fighting other stallions
to keep them away
from their mares
and stuff like that, and to predators.
But I know, without a doubt,
in a second, that mustang
can do serious harm to me,
and he doesn't
want to hurt you,
but you know that he can.
McKEVITT: A horse
that lived 20 years
on the range,
fought off lots of other stallions,
is all of a sudden making the decision
that it might be a good deal
to be with a human.
He's out
of his comfort zone,
and he's adapting.
He's still adapting.
And he's learning something new,
something so foreign to him
at an age where,
you know, his mind should be
shut down and concrete.
I think the same goes to say
with a lot of the individuals
that are here
would be the people that
maybe their surroundings
have given up on,
and, uh, those are the people
that we want
to try to help out here.
Those are the connections
we want to make between
the wild horses and the veterans are,
you know, really getting
to the un-reachables.
Everybody tried to talk 'em out of it.
Said, "Don't bring
this one home.
It will never be gentle."
"It'll never be ridden."
And, uh, the last summer,
we proved them all wrong.
Good boy, Booyah.
I think that's pretty good on this guy.
told me one time,
they said, "Wild horses
don't make it to 20,"
and I said, "Well, obviously they do",
"'cause there's one
standing right here."
has a 20-year history
grazing America's grasslands
and roaming freely on the range.
But after capture,
his very essence
lights the way for veterans
to discover the key
to mental health
and positive growth.
When you are
too concerned with
what's happened in the past,
that tends to pull you back,
backwards into depression.
When you're too concerned
with what might happen.
"What if," "This meant,"
that leads to anxiety.
When you can be just here and now
it cuts off some depression,
it cuts off some anxiety,
and it introduces you
to what's going on right now.
A horse doesn't care about yesterday.
A horse doesn't care about tomorrow.
The horse is right now in this moment.
And if there's one thing
that I'm learning,
it's about living in the moment.
Just today.
Being present with the horse
makes you present with yourself
and the present moment.
You're fine. Go, go!
McDONALD: I thought
I was going.
Well, that was something.
That's just you frisky, huh?
That's what that is?
A lot of times they really like
their face brushed.
It's like kind of a relaxing thing,
like you can see her eyes closing,
and she lowers her head.
They love it.
Part of being present
is even if it's not
a pleasant place,
just be there.
I think that's
the power of being present,
because you can increase
your moments in the present.
It doesn't mean you never think
about the future or the past,
but it doesn't dominate
not only your thoughts,
but then where you are
emotionally and physically.
It's the only time
when I don't think of the past,
when I don't think of the hurt,
I don't think of the future,
all the stuff I have to do tomorrow
or any anxiety attacks
or PTSD attacks.
I don't get any of that.
The greatest pleasure is
finally being free from that
and being in the moment.
Equine therapy
and non-pharmaceutical
are increasingly seen as valuable
in promoting a veteran's
overall well-being.
Integrative medicine affects
how the rest of medicine works.
They work together.
We're always educating people
because there's still
a sort of traditional
medical model.
Yes, we've got to have medical treatment.
The medications, the X-rays,
the physical therapy, the OT...
But that's only part.
You know, veterans
who are involved
in psychotherapy by itself,
compared to veterans who
are involved in psychotherapy
and equine therapy,
there's a notable difference.
And I know
there's some research
being devoted to that.
I mean, we experienced
the same thing with, you know,
our Shakespeare and veteran program.
Some people get involved
with Shakespeare,
and through the character of Shakespeare,
find that they're able
to begin to feel things
and express things in character
that also matches
what they are in real life.
You know,
Shakespeare wrote about
war and relationships.
So, it's perfect 400 years later.
Do not presume too much upon my love
I may do that I shall be sorry for.
You have done
that you should be sorry for.
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees!
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague.
Theater came out
of the warrior culture of Rome
because the returning warriors
told their story through play,
and that was how
they were able to reconnect,
and it was the society's job,
it was just natural for them
to take care of their warriors
and their veterans.
America has never been that way.
You know, we send 'em off,
we train 'em, they come back.
They get a day or two
airplane ride and they're back.
At least World War II,
they had the time on the ship
to, you know, to come back.
In light
of the alarming number
of veteran suicides,
the VA is broadening its quest
for effective programs
to help our soldiers.
One, two, one, two, three...
Music therapy,
recent research in music therapy
in the last, I'd say, 15 years now,
since we've been able
to look at things in the brain,
you know, affects
brain functioning
in five significant ways.
I really think that
some of these partnerships,
what we do in Creative Arts
and Shakespeare with Veterans,
we have the advantage
of seeing veterans
get back into life.
And for those for whom
it happens with horses,
it's profound, it's amazing.
And the biggest thing
is getting veterans connected.
Once a veteran
picks up the phone
and makes a call,
an isolated veteran,
the risk of suicide goes down 30 percent.
So that's a huge part
of what Recreation
and Creative Arts therapists do.
They build connections
from treatment
to the community,
and then,
once you're in community,
try to keep those going.
There's been really no opportunity
where the mustangs
get to show their greatness
as much as, you know,
saving a soldier's life.
Like if my mom hadn't flown out,
I would've never come out here.
She literally forced me
to get in the car
and drove me out here.
You know, not everybody
has that type of support.
So, um, I hope in the future
to reach out to some of those vets
that are sitting in their basement alone,
are sitting in their house alone,
um, not really having
the motivation or drive,
or even will to want
to go out and look
for something like this.
My neighbor came to me
the other day and she's like,
"This Navy vet's having
PTSD issues, alcohol issues."
So what did I do?
I went over there.
He didn't know me.
No one knew me.
I knocked on that door
and I was like,
"You're coming with me."
After talking to him for a few minutes,
I got him at the barn, and I was like,
"You know,
you don't have to do drugs
or alcohol to be happy here."
"You just have to be here."
And, uh, he's very excited.
He's gonna be coming up,
he's gonna be
filling out the paperwork
and he's gonna get going.
There's nothing like a veteran
wanting to help another veteran
because that's part
of what they never leave behind,
is that commitment
to the group, the mission.
Commitment to the mission.
As long as they got a mission,
they're happy.
But they got to have a mission.
If you're
a good battle buddy
and a good fellow soldier,
you're helping your other soldiers out.
We know how to watch each other's back
and help them work on being better.
And there's somebody behind me going,
"Hey, I'm gonna help you perform better.
"I'm gonna help you
be able to work this out."
You know?
McKEVITT: So you got to find
somewhere to be a little more
consistent than that
up, down, up, down.
You know what I'm saying, with the horse?
In spite
of all the trauma
the mustangs have endured,
the veterans are their saviors.
And now, the world is taking notice.
The group heads out
to the biggest rodeo
in the world.
Cheyenne Frontier Days is a platform
for us to demonstrate
veterans that are not
professional horseman
can successfully
make a connection
with these wild horses.
The BLM delivered 18 mustangs
and four wild burros
to the team of veterans
to gentle over the course of the rodeo,
performing demonstrations,
and ultimately auctioning off
the newly trained animals
to loving homes.
We're each gonna be
working with two mustangs.
We get assigned two mustangs,
and just developing them
and see what I can do for 'em
and show people
that they're really good horses.
Well, it's the biggest
rodeo in the country,
and I get to work mustangs,
and I'm all about that.
These mustangs,
we're gonna work with them
on the ground.
Then we're gonna finally get a saddle...
We'll wrap a rope, get him used to that,
and saddle and blanket.
And then,
we're gonna get on 'em,
and we're gonna ride 'em.
And that's the great part.
Now we have
a very special group right now
that is making their way
down to Chute Five.
Now they're going to head into the arena.
They are a group called the BraveHearts.
Now, they are the largest
horse program in the country
serving military veterans.
Last year, over 545 veterans
received nearly 11,000 rides
at no cost to them.
The more people
that are aware that they're
useful, good horses,
that you can train 'em,
you can trust 'em,
the more maybe people will stop breeding
other horses for pleasure
and for ranch work,
and use some of these
great resources that we have.
There are quite a few challenging moments
at Frontier Days for me personally.
There were thousands
and thousands of people
I had been riding
for less than a year,
and I was kind of petrified.
$200. $250. $250.
$200, I have...
Two grand where? $2,000.
This had to be a uncomfortable situation
for both the horses and the vets,
because these horses
haven't been to town either.
$800, where?
I have it...
Then all of a sudden, they're here.
They've got tarps, planes, helicopters,
they got cars.
Jeez, it's like
sensory overload.
I'd never been at a big rodeo
like that before.
It was an experience and it's spiritual.
And you're not used
to all that culture shock.
And you're on a horse
and you're with these mustangs
and we all got mustangs
and we had the wild burros
and we got to work with them
for ten days
while we were out there.
And it was a bonding, you know?
So, all day, we're working
with these horses,
and getting them ready
because they had an auction
at the end of the ten days,
and they got adopted.
She's gonna have the best life.
I mean, it's just like having a puppy
and having a child.
She's gonna be...
I think her and I are gonna be
awesome together.
These animals are a good source,
both for mental use,
for work use, show horses.
We now see horses,
the endurance is a
big, big, fun group
of people that do it.
Here in Nevada,
we've got a prison program.
It's a win-win.
Um, they're rehabilitating
and teaching these inmates
a new trade.
And then, we supply
the Border Patrol in San Diego
with gentled horses
that have been saddle-started.
They tend to last a lot longer.
They grew up in this terrain.
They can go on, they're hardy.
The public will
have an opportunity
to buy a wild horse
that a veteran on the front end
has started the process,
started to lay the groundwork for.
I have... two... three.
$200. Now $500. $750.
I have... $800 where? $750...
I have $1,250. Sold at $1,200
right down here in front.
Twenty-five. Gentlemen, $2,600.
$3,200 I have...
Sold, $3,600, right here.
Then to $250.
I have $200. Now half.
Hi, baby.
I went to
Cheyenne Frontier Days
for a family vacation
and, uh, realized
that the BLM was there
with wild horses,
and I decided then,
possibly, to try and adopt,
and I had no idea
I was going to come home
with a horse.
She's a three-year-old mustang.
Lima Zulu. Sweet as can be.
I adopted her through the BLM.
I love this horse.
Grandkids came over.
My granddaughter Layla rode her,
and my grandson Liam.
Um, my son had no problem with her,
didn't realize she was a wild mustang
until, you know,
they were already up on her.
But she's been really a great horse.
Seem like all the kids
that are here always
want to ride the mustang.
I don't know if
it's the heritage thing
or just the personality,
the, uh, the spunk that this...
There's just a lot of
personality with it,
so everybody likes this horse,
and she's been really good
for a lot of other kids.
They're part of our history.
They've been around
for hundreds of years,
and they're part of, you know, our lands,
and you get to have
a piece of that
and save a piece of that,
and it's just overwhelming.
You know, not only that,
you get to save an animal
and give it a good home
and a life and a purpose.
She's a blessing in my life.
But what about people who don't ride
or aren't able to be around horses?
To emphasize that
every veteran's life
is valuable,
BraveHearts is taking to the streets.
Good morning from New York.
Welcome to the Trail to Zero.
We're gonna be
riding horses 20 miles
through Washington DC.
Trail to Zero.
Trail to Zero
is BraveHearts'
awareness effort.
Riding in large cities
to help reduce veteran suicide
to zero.
We're gonna hit
the start sign. Everyone ready?
Let's go.
The veterans ride downtown
in some of America's largest cities
to bring awareness
to the problem
of veteran suicide.
Some even mounted on the wild mustangs
gentled by the veterans themselves.
My father was a veteran.
He committed suicide,
and many of my friends
have committed suicide.
And so, um, that's why I have
really mixed feelings today.
But being here
in Washington, DC, where...
You know, this represents our country.
Veterans are very patriotic.
This horse is very patriotic.
It's just awareness.
Awareness, to me, is educating people.
We're here to ride with BraveHearts
and the New York City Police Department
and we're here for the suicide
awareness prevention.
Every day there's over 20 suicides
with military veterans
in the United States.
We're going 20 miles,
because it's a mile
for every veteran
which commits suicide every day.
We want to draw attention
to the fact that there's
a place to go to get help.
And one of the ways
that they can get help
is with horse equine therapy.
That's what we do out there
in Illinois with these horses.
It's, uh, kind of venturing
out into the unknown.
For myself, I've never been
to Washington, DC.
And to do it on a horse,
which is my vehicle
to experience life,
just about everything,
and with people who also
see the world like I do,
it is just amazing.
It's raining.
There's an expression,
"If it ain't raining,
we ain't training."
Well, we trained today.
The neat part was actually
going through the heart
of downtown Washington.
Everybody finished that started,
and it's something I'll remember forever.
A lot of people are curious,
so they're gonna look it up,
an even if we reach one veteran
who wanted to kill himself
or herself today,
saw this cause,
does not kill himself or herself,
it was worth it.
And it was worth riding the 20 miles.
And he's tired,
but he says he's worth it, too.
I know. I know, I know.
I know, yeah.
Riding a horse in New York City.
Oh, my gosh, riding a horse
through New York City
was just amazing.
It was surreal.
It was surreal.
Just the street.
The people are friendly.
It's unbelievable.
All these horse-drawn carriages
around south side
of Central Park.
This is... This is unbelievable.
It's surreal.
You wanna pet him?
New York is an intense city.
The ride itself was fascinating
because the horses were...
they were rock stars.
I mean, they were rock solid.
You know, you would imagine
that a horse coming from
a beautiful barn out here
going into Central Park
with massive structures
and buildings
and cars and sounds, hansom cabs,
and people running by,
and cutting you off
and other people waving,
and cell phones everywhere,
and people saying, you know,
"What are you about?"
and so forth and so on.
The distractions were massive.
And the horses were just rock solid.
They kept right on going.
There were no glitches.
HILL-McQUEENY: We talk about
how horses can reduce anxiety,
like, of all places possibly,
to be anxious, right?
New York City.
-Nobody was anxious.
HILL-McQUEENY: Times Square,
like, there's people
Cars everywhere, buses,
horns, noises, bikes,
skateboards, everything.
And the horses took it all.
They just sucked it all up
like big sponges.
And the time
we spent interacting
and getting to know people.
Obviously, we weren't prepared
for the amount of exposure
and the amount of, you know,
contact with people.
We ran out of literature
halfway through the ride.
all the people taking
pictures and movies
and asked us what we were doing
and all the information
that we're handing out,
and just seeing how many people
have been e-mailing and texting
and Facebook-ing
or whatever, like,
"That's on my bucket list."
"How do I get to do that?
Like, that's so amazing."
You know, how we try to capture
all of that enthusiasm
and then use it
for the true good of the cause.
We were actually fortunate enough
to stop at a couple of firehouses
who were kind enough to water our horses
and they were fire houses
that participated on 9/11.
And we were accepted
by the people that came around
when we were at those spots
where we took pictures.
People came, you know,
literally, in droves
to ask us questions,
know what we were about,
you know, to touch the horses.
And that was, I guess,
kind of interesting, too,
is that when people were...
You know, some had
never been near a horse.
Columns of two,
column right! Ho!
We also were
fortunate enough to have
six mounted policemen with us.
They led the charge.
So when there was
any kind of an obstruction
or whatever,
they were right there
to help us avoid it.
The mounted police,
a bunch of them
were on their off day,
and they came in
because they wanted
to support the cause.
HILL-McQUEENY: They were
just honored to even
be invited to join us.
That was pretty humbling
to hear, like, "Wow."
You know, 'cause we feel like
here that we're trying to fight
for a cause so hard,
and then, here we go to New York City,
and have total strangers
get behind what...
-What we're doing.
And then when we went down
to Ground Zero,
that was an awesome experience.
I mean, that was
a heartfelt thing
that we all participated in.
You could tell
that it really had a meaning
for all of us, you know?
Certainly for the New York policemen.
Semper Fi.
-You a marine, too?
-Semper Fi.
-Semper Fi, sir.
-Semper Fi.
it's somewhat sad
to think how many people
really don't understand
the epidemic that's going on,
don't understand
whether the number
is 20 or 22, whatever it is.
So many people didn't know...
-...that that's how many were
committing suicide every day.
You can't ignore that
and think that that's acceptable
for the United States of America.
One, two, three.
I wish I would have started 50 years ago,
but I'm here now
and I'm gonna make
the best of it.
It's so awesome,
'cause people are like,
"What do you do?"
"I work with mustangs, man.
You gotta come check it out."
And they're like,
"What do you mean,
Mustang cars?"
"No, mustang horses.
Wild horses."
"Wild horses?"
"Yeah, wild horses, man.
"Come check it out.
It's a pretty awesome
I just had a veteran tell me yesterday,
like, "If I didn't
have this place,
where do I go?"
"I don't want to go to the bars.
I don't want to sit in the VAs."
"That's not where..."
"I need to be encouraged.
I need to be challenged.
I want something to do."
I think people need
something that's measurable
where they can
look back and see
what they've accomplished.
Working with the mustangs,
it gives me that
sense of accomplishment.
So I came to a place where I realized,
"Hey, I'm getting better
and life is looking up for me."
And I always wanted to be in a situation
where I could try to share that
with other veterans.
It's like a family.
It's like an extension to the family.
We're both Mitchells.
-Are you really?
A lot of times, we say in the military,
you know, our units become our family.
Um, this is my civilian unit now.
The mustangs and the veterans.
Together, they find
a new way to live,
a place to belong.
A feeling of safety, hope.
A bright new spirit.
Can you believe that?
A horse named Marshall.
Now with the Creative Arts,
equine therapy,
there is that spiritual healing
that can happen.
This program
has motivated me
from sitting in a wheelchair,
not even able to walk around,
to, all of a sudden, I'm running.
I'm able to run now.
There's a lot of other centers
like BraveHearts
that want wild horses.
They just don't know how to start it.
There's about 800 across the country.
So, you know, that's a lot of veterans
that could possibly be assisted,
as well as a lot of wild horses
that could actually have
a new purpose in their life
other than standing in a holding pen.
And these horses, um,
are the love
that shines through.
Like they're the part
of my heart that was there
before deployments,
before the military,
before everything else.
McKEVITT: What better match-up?
You know, the wild mustang and a warrior
that's gone overseas
to protect everything
that we all have?
It's magic.
So we're trying
to get equine therapy
to move to the top of the list,
or at least up the list
instead of being
the last resort for the VA.
Move it up and have it
so it's a regular therapy
that veterans can
get turned on to
and they can get involved in.
Because if they get involved early on,
you could probably save
a lot of guys' lives.
You know,
we need lots of support,
equipment-wise, logistics.
Um, I hope that people
will step up to the plate
and support that
so that we can continue
to get more horses,
better equipment, serve more veterans.
You know, our veterans
that are coming home
and are in tough spots,
they deserve a whole lot more
than, you know,
what we're doing right now.
And so, getting these horses placed,
you know, getting these veterans
a purpose to leave their houses,
to start to integrate
with fellow veterans,
to have a project, you know,
have something that,
at the end of the day,
they can be proud of
and think that "I left this round pen"
"a whole lot better than it was
when I walked in."
For me, my goal in life now
is to always just
try to spend my day
doing something I enjoy.
And cherishing the moments
in the time I have left
with the people,
my family and friends I have.
What is a mustang?
People think it's a breed,
and we like to say,
it's a lifestyle.
I found sobriety in horsemanship.
I found faith in horsemanship.
And I'm a real live person.
Look at me, Mom!
I've changed as far as, um,
not being drunk
all the time, probably.
I don't have that crutch
that I got to fall back on.
I got something to do.
I got something
more meaningful
than to be sitting at the bar,
to be drinking alone,
or, you know,
or doing any of that stuff,
because every time I come out here,
whether I'm riding
or instructing or feeding,
or helping fix fences,
or whatever we got to do out here,
everybody wears a lot of different hats,
and to to build
and to have community
and have friends
and to be able to share
and experience
what I am out here, you know,
and go to sleep thinking
"I did a good job today,"
you know?
I'm a happy camper.
I'm a happy camper.