Review: Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West


Smokey mist over early morning vistas, vibrant red sunsets, and grand rusty red mountains in the distance set the idyllic scenes for wild horses nuzzling noses in their family units and galloping freely in sync over the plains.

The song, “A Horse with No Name” plays on:

    I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can’t remember your name
    ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
    La la la la la la… (“A Horse with No Name” — written by Dewey Bunnell, performed by America).

The song goes on as gorgeous views of wild horses in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, the Salt River in Arizona, Steen’s mountain in Oregon, and other places throughout America freely cavort, gallop, touch noses, and graze in family units over the great American public lands.

That image is abruptly and devastatingly juxtaposed to the grim reality of the greed and corruption of the cattle and sheep industries that want the same free public land for their private industry grazing.

Inspired filmmaker Ashley Avis (“Black Beauty” with Kate Winslet) has delivered a courageous, loving, frustrated, angry tome of stark, painful truth. It’s a microcosm of how industry, in its rabid unquenchable thirst for money is destroying America through unprincipled, corrupt, deceitful manipulation of Congress and the US government.

Wild horses and burros were protected by Nixon’s 1971 Act to protect them from capture, branding and death. But there was one caveat. The Bureau of Land Management had the responsibility to manage the herds and keep their levels at appropriate management levels (AMLs).

“The number of wild horses and burros that the BLM determines can exist in balance with other public rangeland species and resources in a given area is the AML It represents the point at which horse and burro herd populations are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them.”

But in 2013, the National Academy of Science reported that the BLM’s established AMLs were not supported by scientific info. While the BLM reported that the horses were starving and degrading the land and needed to be culled, there was no evidence that was true at all. But what was starkly evident was that increased amounts of cattle and sheep were authorized to graze in the wild horse complex. These massive herds are the obvious, undeniable culprits of land degradation.

I have written to three sources, including the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haagland, the BLM and the BLM jurisdiction in Washington and Oregon, for a response to this film and this writing. I will dutifully post any replies in the comment section.

Until then, this is the movie to see and this is a cause to care about.


Written, directed, edited, and narrated by Ashley Avis
Produced by Edward Winters, Ashley Avis and Richard Avis
Executive Producers: Laurel Werner, Jeremy Bolt, Anders Liljeblad, and Larry Hummel.
Cinematography by Kai Krause

Music composed by Guillaume Roussel and orchestrated by Mathieu Alvado with arrangements and additional music by clementine Charuel, and Michael Lofaso.
Orchestra: Budapest Scoring Orchestra
Release: May 12, 2023 (limited)

This award-winning film has qualified for Oscar consideration and is available now to stream on Amazon, iTunes, Spectrum, and more.

To learn more about wild horses, visit the Wild Beauty Foundation

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