Nov 102010
 
Authors: Erin Udell

In 1994, Emmy-award winning filmmaker Ginger Kathrens embarked on a scouting trip with her sister to northern Wyoming, where she researched wild horse behavior for a documentary project.

With limited horse experience, Kathrens expected to see the wild creatures grazing in fields all day long, but was surprised to find out about their elusive nature.

“All we saw were butts and dust,” Kathrens said.

It was at the base of a red butte at dawn, while the sun peeked through the Pryor Mountains, that she first saw him — a strong black stallion she named Raven.

“He ran away, but it was certainly a mystical experience,” Kathrens said. “In that moment, something happened to me. I fell in love with that horse.”

She ended up finding Raven and his family, eventually gaining their trust and meeting a young white colt in the herd she named Cloud, a horse she has followed and documented over the past 16 years.

“They really opened their world to me in time,” Kathrens said. “I never thought that I was going to do a film about one wild horse, but that’s what started to happen.”

About 135 CSU students, Fort Collins residents and members of the agricultural community packed into a small lecture hall yesterday evening to hear Kathrens tell her and Cloud’s story through her public television series, “Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies.”

Kathrens’ filmmaking career led her to Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America and South America before she began her focus on wild horses and their behavior.

“It took a long time to merge what I did with what I really loved,” Kathrens said.

But in time, she found her true calling — researching, filming and educating people about the nature of horses.

“We have everything to learn from the wild horse and their society,” Kathrens said. “I hope that I can inform others about my journey and my discoveries. I think there will be something they can learn from that.”

A cause that is dear to Kathrens’ heart is the preservation of wild horses on public lands. The Cloud Foundation, a non-profit organization of which Kathrens is the founder and executive director of, aims to prevent the extinction of Cloud’s herd through education and public involvement.

“We used to have 2-to-3 million horses in the wild,” Kathrens said. “Now we have fewer than 20,000.”

The Mountain Riders Horse Club, which sponsored Kathrens’ presentation, found her story both compelling and important to the agricultural community.

“She’s got nice thoughts, she’s very knowledgeable and she has a story to tell,” said Chuck Peterson, the Equine Teaching and Research Center facility manager. “The wild horse is an emotionally charged interest and she does a great job of telling it.”

Katy Lippolis, a sophomore equine science major and member of the Mountain Riders Horse Club, attended the presentation to learn more about horse issues and behavior.

“I’ve heard so many great things about her,” Lippolis said. “I’m glad that I came. Being a horse lover, it’s cool to see where they came from and their history.”

As for Kathrens, after her 16 years of wild horse research, she continues to grow and learn from her experiences in the field.

“Unlike some people, I can just sit for hours watching wildlife,” Kathrens said. “I really enjoy those quiet calming moments when I’m just waiting for something to happen.”

City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at new@collegian.com.

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