by Fran Jurga | 23 October 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions premieres on PBS Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 8 p.m.; check your local listings for times and re-broadcasts. This will be the third in a series of documentaries on PBS about the iconic wild stallion in the Pryor Mountains on the Wyoming-Montana border.
Ironically, the documentary was filmed and into production before the much-publicized Bureau of Land Management roundup occurred during the first week of September. At that time, Cloud and his band of mares were driven down from their high mountain meadow habitat to holding pens, retained briefly, and released. The plan was to reduce the size of overall Pryor Mountain population by administering birth control to some of the mares and culling some of the older horses.
That means that some of the horses you will see on the PBS special on Sunday may no longer be in the wild and some of the mares you see with foals will be barren next year.
After the broadcast, you can get the full story on exactly what is going on with Cloud and his heard by going to PBS.org and its NATURE Online section for a live discussion with filmmaker Ginger Kathrens. Click here to go to the live discussion area, where many people have already left questions for Ginger.
Ginger has been documenting the life of the reality-tv-star-stallion--who has gone on to become the icon of wild horses in America--since he was a tiny foal. She is often compared to Jane Goodall and, in natural history circles, the documentaries on Cloud are very important because they are the only documentation from birth of an individual Western Hemisphere wild animal. In addition to three documentaries for PBS, Kathrens has written two books about Cloud and is the executive director for the Cloud Foundation.
Sunday night's film contains five years' worth of filming. If you missed the first two installments, watch Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies and Cloud's Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns, which PBS has kindly posted online in their entirety and at no cost for the public to view.
I wish that Ginger was appearing on television so more people would see her and hear what she has to say. If you care about wild horses, or horses or wildlife in general, you should tune in. I know a lot of people think that Cloud is just for little girls, but this episode makes the trauma of Bambi look tame...and knowing what is coming a few months after this filming took place should be enough drama for the most grown-up horselovers of all.
Who needs Law and Order when you have bait trappers hiding in camper trailers with remote control gate switches while mountain lions lurk just out of sight?
The trouble is that this isn't tv drama...this is real life and these are real horses. Get to know Cloud (and Ginger) this Sunday, or spend some time beforehand watching or re-watching the first two documentaries in the series so you'll be caught up in the saga. You won't regret it.