Unbridled—opening in select theaters on January 18—tackles tough issues in a beautiful, family-friendly film that showcases healing through equine therapy. The heartwarming tale follows the journey of Sarah, a teenage girl who has suffered incredible abuse and believes she is beyond redemption. She is sent to a ranch for abuse survivors where she meets a horse named Dreamer who also has a traumatic past. There she learns that no one is beyond hope. [purchase tickets here]

Director John David Ware graciously answered questions about his film.

Unbridled is unique in that it highlights the power of equine-assisted psychotherapy. What was the inspiration for this movie?

The film is inspired by CORRAL, an equine therapy ranch in Raleigh, North Carolina. The writers used the diaries of some of the girls from the program. But the real inspiration is the problem of human trafficking. By making Unbridled an exciting, entertaining story, we can show it to teen and tween girls and their parents to begin a conversation.

Did you have any experience with horses before directing Unbridled?

Yeah, that was one of the most amazing things. I grew up riding. I rode for my equestrian team in college at Miami University, Oxford Ohio and I absolutely adore being around these animals. I hadn’t ridden much for the last 10 years, but it’s just in my DNA. When Jerry McGlothlin, the executive producer, offered the director role, I was very excited. When I learned I would be working with horses, I was that much more stoked. God works in the most mysterious ways. It was a great pleasure being around horses for our 21-day shoot.

The horses used in the movie are so talented! How many horses made up the equine cast and where did they come from?

[Horse trainer] Lindsey Partridge brought two horses down [from Canada]: Dreamer, our star, and also her award-winning horse, Soar. Soar is very talented and Lindsey does a lot of trick riding with her, which she did for the film. Dreamer’s just the gentlest soul—he’s awesome. Lindsey called him a moveable prop, which I thought was horrible until I got to meet him and work with him. [Laughs] and she’s right!

And then there were six horses from Edelweiss Ranch that we put in the film; one of them was my buddy Baymax. So eight horses were used in the film.

Did you have a favorite?

Well, of course, Dreamer’s my favorite, but a close second is Baymax, the barrel racer. He’s the one I got to ride a lot. When he saw a barrel, he was off to the races—a very fun and spirited mount!

What is the main message you hope the audience takes away from the movie?

Hope is the message. When you see someone win against overwhelming odds, then it helps you in your own life. You also realize that winning is possible! Hope needs to govern us as we engage in the struggle and start a conversation [about human trafficking] so that perhaps some of this problem can be avoided. If we save just one girl, prevent this from happening just one time, then it will be worth all the time and effort we have spent crafting this story. From the film, perhaps some nurses and moms and school counselors can discuss this with these young girls.

What’s one reason people should go see Unbridled?

Well, I’d say the main reason you go to any movie—it’s a great story and a journey that will make you feel emotion. You will laugh, you will cry, but ultimately you’re going to feel satisfied because the journey is so rich and—I’m biased of course—but the film is a well-told story and they’re going to be uplifted by the time they’re done watching.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about the movie?

Yeah, tell everybody to go see it! On April 27th—that’s the premier—it’s going to be in selected theaters around the country and you can find out more at unbridledmovie.com.   

Dreamer is ready to hit the hay after a long night of shooting with actress Rachel Hendrix, horse trainer and actress Lindsey Partridge, director John David Ware, and director of photography Tripp Green.
Actors Téa Mckay, Eric Roberts, T.C. Stallings, and Dey Young with director John David Ware (center).

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