Saving America's Horses: A Nation Betrayed: Film Review

Saving America's Horses - P 2012
Katia Louise

Saving America's Horses - P 2012

This impassioned if scattershot documentary highlights the dangers and moral failings in the slaughter of horses both wild and domestic.

Katia Louise's documentary exposes the horrific conditions involved in the wholesale slaughter of horses.

You won’t attend a horse race again with the same lighthearted spirit after seeing Saving America’s Horses: A Nation Betrayed. This impassioned if somewhat overloaded documentary by self-described “lifelong horsewoman” Katia Louise forcefully exposes the frequently horrific fates suffered by horses both wild and domestic, as well as burros, when they are no longer useful or wanted. Frequently slaughtered for consumption in Europe, their inhumane treatment as revealed here will surely prompt outrage among animal lovers as well as those concerned with health and environmental issues.

Featuring ardent testimony from numerous concerned figures as well as graphic footage that’s often painful to watch, the film takes no prisoners in its damning indictment of the political, corporate and government interests involved in the wholesale slaughter of the creatures. Unlike as with cattle and chickens, there are few regulations over the process, with the result that the animals are often severely mistreated. Humans don’t fare well either, with the nefarious complications including the contamination of water and land, and horse meat, not generally intended for consumption, frequently containing harmful chemicals.

Narrating the film herself, director Louise reveals her cinematic inexperience with a sometimes jumble presentation of information overload including littering the screen with more text content than even cable television news broadcasts. She also indulges in audience pandering via the inclusion of interviews with numerous celebrities with sometimes tenuous connections to the issue. These include Michael Blake, author of the book and screenplay Dances With Wolves, as well as Willie Nelson,Linda Gray, Tippi Hedren, Ken Wahl and a teary-eyed Paul Sorvino.

Still, there’s no denying the film’s emotional impact, abetted by the endlessly photogenic quality of its ill-fated equine subjects. Even urban viewers who’ve never seen a wild horse in their lives will find themselves wondering what will eventually become of the handsome steed leading their carriage through Central Park.  

Production: IMA Studios, Humanion Films (Area 23)
Cast: Willie Nelson, Linda Gray, Paul Sorvino, Tippi Hendren, Michael Blake
Director/screenwriter/producer: Katia Louise
Not rated, 91 min.