Film festival and Mustang Summit to put spotlight on USA’s wild horses


A Mustang Summit is being held in conjunction with the popular Equus Film & Arts Fest at the end of the month in Colorado, with the initiative providing an “open stage” platform for the sharing of views, experiences and issues surrounding wild horses in the USA.

The Mustang Summit is being hosted at the B-bar-B Ranch in Westcliffe, Colorado, and the Equus Film & Arts Fest will be based out of the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts and the Jones Theater.

Being held from September 28 to October 1, The Mustang Summit is the film festival’s educational program, and it aims to expand the Mustang education of the horse-loving general public.

It will be a safe environment to ask questions, listen to experts, watch training seminars and demos to help the general public understand more about the current conditions of the American Mustang Horse off the range. Equus will be working in partnership with The Cloud Foundation, and its founder, Ginger Kathrens and Executive Director, Kerry Ferguson, will be joining in the event.

Various panels will be discussing issues such as healthy mustang numbers, gathers, mustangs in holding, successful gentling and training programs, competitive events, kill pens, youth programs, prison programs, veteran and healing mustang programs.

An array of films and documentaries featuring the Mustang will be on show at the Equus Film & Arts Fest and The Mustang Summit.
An array of films and documentaries featuring the Mustang will be on show at the Equus Film & Arts Fest and The Mustang Summit.

Local artist Melody DeBenedictis is the Westcliffe Fest Coordinator and local contact for the event. With support from local area partners, Custer County Tourism, Peaks Integrity Wealth Management and Insurance Services, Colorado Horse Source, a secret supporter, and Courtyard Country Inn, Equus has been able to create an event that will be fun for “the whole horse loving family”. Kids will even be able to talk with Lucus and Levi White, from L & L Manquest, two brothers who are traveling across the United States on horseback (with their parents) for the ultimate home-schooling adventure project.

Thursday evening’s VIP Fundraiser at B-bar-B Ranch, festival host and sponsor, will help local area Veterans through the “Mustang Mountain Project”, run by Rebecca Wills. The Wet Mountain Valley area in Colorado is home to over 2000 Veterans. They are without any equine-assisted healing programs, and the festival is working to bring awareness to this and help bring the horses (preferably Mustangs) to the Veterans who need the healing powers of the horse. The musical entertainment for the evening is to be provided by High Country Junkies, and friends.

The event is hosting six of the country’s top Mustang trainers, partnering each trainer with one of the BLM’s six untouched yearlings. The selected trainers are West Taylor from Utah, the team of Sky Epperson, from Indiana, with Annamaria Sims from Illinois, Stefanie Skidmore, from Colorado, Bruce Anderson from South Carolina, Andrea Zsitvay-Incitti from Colorado, and “PaPa” Mike Cassidy from Kentucky. There will be an adoption event on Sunday to place the six yearling Mustangs working with the trainers at the summit, with the Colorado BLM Team on hand to take care of the placement paperwork.

Westcliffe Center for Performing Arts will host the Equus Literary Corral authors and artists. Outside of the Arts Center will be an equine vendor area and a round pen with different equine lectures and demos running through the weekend.

A selection of Mustang and Wild Horse documentaries will be screening in Westcliffe, along with a collection of equine therapy and healing documentaries running in the film programme. There will also be panels with filmmakers and authors, and dozens of exhibitors and guests are already confirmed for the programme. Applications for local equine artists and authors to join the Art & Literary Corral at the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts are also being accepted.

Performances by Mustang-loving Country Western Star, Lacy J. Dalton, with opening act Jared Rogerson, and The High Country Junkies will be part of the entertainment lineup at the Jones Theater.

Stefanie Skidmore – (Wild Horse Outreach and Advocacy, Colorado) is among the exhibitors at The Mustang Summit.
Stefanie Skidmore (Wild Horse Outreach and Advocacy, Colorado) is among the exhibitors at The Mustang Summit. © Equus Film Festival

Lisanne Fear will also be there to talk about her cross-country journey with three Mustangs and a Mulestang on the Mustang Discovery Ride Project.

Tickets for the Equus Film & Arts Fest and The Mustang Summit are on sale, with prices from $10. An all-access four-day pass is $350.

The aim of the Equus Film & Arts Fest is to highlight and reward the diverse and creative efforts of those who pay artistic homage to the horse. “Every horse has a story”.

Thursday, Sept 28 – Opening evening VIP Event – B Bar B Ranch – 3 pm – 8 pm
Friday, Sept 29 – Mustang Summit Demo Programs – B Bar B Ranch – 8 am – 3 pm
Friday, Sept 29 – EQUUS Art & Literary Pop-Up Gallery – Westcliffe Arts Center 11 am – 5 pm Friday, Sept 29 – EQUUS Film Fest Films – Jones Theater – 2 pm – 9 pm
Saturday, Sept 30 – Mustang Summit Demo Programs – B Bar B Ranch 8 am – 3 pm
Saturday, Sept 30 – EQUUS Art & Literary Pop-Up Gallery – Westcliffe Arts Center 11 am – 5 pm Saturday, Sept 29 – EQUUS Film Fest Films – Jones Theater – 12 pm – 4:30 pm
Saturday, Sept 29 – Lacy J. Dalton Concert with Opening Act – Jones Theater – 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sunday, Oct 1 – Mustang Summit Demo Programs – B Bar B Ranch – 8 am – 4 pm
Sunday, Oct 1 – EQUUS Art & Literary Pop-Up Gallery – Westcliffe Arts Center – 11 am – 4 pm Sunday, Oct 1 – EQUUS Film Fest Films – Jones Theater – 11 am – 4 pm

Exhibitors and Guests confirmed to date:
Lacy J. Dalton – Musical Guest
Matt Manroe – Mustang Champions – Executive Director – Texas
Ginger Kathrens – Cloud Foundation – Filmmaker / Founder – Colorado
Kerry Ferguson – Cloud Foundation – Executive Director – Colorado
West Taylor – Mustang Trainer – Utah
Wylene Wilson – Mustang Extremist – Texas
L & L Manquest Team – Cross Country Mustang Traveling Family
Lynn Thomas – Horses for Mental Health – Executive Director – Utah
George Brauneis – Mustang Trainer – Colorado
Lisanne Fear – Mustang Discovery Ride – Wyoming
Julianne Neal – Mustang Discovery Ride Project – Filmmaker – South Carolina
Sky Epperson – Mustang TIP Trainer –Mustang Adoption Academy – Indiana
“Papa” Mike Cassedy – Mustang Trainer – Kentucky
Ashley Middleton – Mustang Heritage Foundation – Texas
Thomas Millegan – Mustang Heritage Foundation – Texas
Stefanie Skidmore – Wild Horse Outreach & Advocacy – Colorado
Andrea Zsitvay-Incitti – Liberty Trainer – Colorado
Allecia Maine – Animal Healer & Communicator – Colorado
Alecz Adams – Mustang Trainer – Veterans Program – Author – Colorado
Bruce Anderson – Mustang Trainer – Guest Clinician – South Carolina
Diana Thebo-Markworth & Cruzer – Mustang Trainer – Missouri
Mila Hollingsworth & Elsa – With Grandma Diana – Iowa
Amanda Held – Mustang Veterans Program – Ohio
Michelle Kaye – Equine Veterans Program – Colorado
Annamaria Sims – Neuro Pathway work with Mustangs – Illinois
Felicitas Funke – The Cowboy’s Documentary – Filmmaker – Colorado
Ann Souders – Forever Branded – Mustang Educator – Texas
Wild Horse & Burro BLM Colorado Team – Colorado
Bree Thompson – Wild Hearts Haven Mustang Restart – Colorado
Taryn Hillman – Wild Hearts Horsemanship – Colorado
Kim Tattle – Peaceful Ass Ranch – Colorado
Cayla Stone – Wild Rose Mustang Advocacy Group – Colorado
Teri & Jeff Hall – Mustang Advocates – Colorado
John Barnhardt – Filmmaker – Colorado
Matthew Cohn – Filmmaker – Washington DC
Donna Wells – Filmmaker – New Mexico
Melody DeBenedictis – Equine Artist – Colorado
Ronda Gregorio – Mustang Author & Photographer – Artist – Virginia
Kami Sue Taylor – Equine & Drum Artist – Utah
Jared Rogerson – Musical Guest – Wyoming
High Country Junkies – Musical Guest – Colorado
M.J. Evans – Author – Colorado
Corinne Joy Brown – Author – Colorado
Robin M. Davis – Author – Colorado
Tracy Ane Brooks – Author – Colorado
Mustang Ambassador Program – Youth Program – Colorado

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