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A Stormy but Excellent First Week for EQUUS Film Festival at FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018

Updated on September 16, 2018
(l-r) Silver Medalist Laura Graves, Gold Medalist Isabel Werth and Bronze Medalist Charlotte the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018.
(l-r) Silver Medalist Laura Graves, Gold Medalist Isabel Werth and Bronze Medalist Charlotte the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018. | Source
(l-r) EQUUS Film Festival Co-Organizer Diana De Rosa and Founder Lisa Diersen.
(l-r) EQUUS Film Festival Co-Organizer Diana De Rosa and Founder Lisa Diersen. | Source

The EQUUS Film Festival (EFF) has been at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 for a week now and it truly has been a glorious but stormy experience. When EFF founder, Lisa Diersen and co-organizer, Diana De Rosa, arrived, it was the fulfillment of a goal to be able to share horse films with the world. Often considered the Equestrian Olympics for the horse world, over half a million people and horses will have left their footprints and hoofprints behind before the Games are over.

While it is super exciting to be here it hasn’t been without the typical trials and tribulations. In this case, the organizer took over an event less than two short years after Canada backed out. Their goals were set a bit too high, especially when faced with a difficult flood filled winter and extremely hot summer. Yet, with all they had to overcome, they pulled it off.

Of course, there are mixed opinions, but both Diersen and De Rosa are weathering this storm with a positive attitude for all that has been achieved. The organizers made smart choices when it was clear that not all their goals could be accomplished and so they chose to put their focus on the eight horse competitions including dressage, endurance, reining, para dressage, driving, vaulting, eventing and show jumping.

While those filling the seats in the Olympic arena enjoyed watching dressage, reining or eventing riders negotiate technical tests, many others took the time to fill the seats in the EQUUS Theater, and even at times opted to stand or sit on the floor when every seat was taken.

Meet the Filmmakers and Friends

Filmmakers and Talent Take the Journey to WEG

During the two weeks, over 100 movies and 84 hours of films will be shown. There are also a host of filmmakers trekking the storm filled journey to support their films and enjoy this event.

For the WEG organizers, the big challenge has been facing the threat of hurricane Florence, which forced them to close the grounds for one day, on the first Sunday, September 16. While media and the EFF staff worry about the potential flooding of the grounds, the “day off” provided a chance to spread the word about this incredible ninth World Equestrian Games

There were filmmakers who traveled from as far away as Canada, Chicago, Maine, Tennessee, Washington, Texas and Florida to support their films. Among those filmmakers and stars were Yvonne Barteau, her daughter Kayla and the Pas de Cheval dancers, who without horses after all the demonstrations were cancelled, were still able to entertain crowds and stop for photo ops with their unicorn character, Freedom. Their film, Into the Spotlight, focuses on theater horses with an underlying message about rescuing unwanted horses in the United States.

Marsha Sapp came from Florida and although she brought her famous Breyer horse Cobra, the storm and limitations of vets to check horses in prevented Cobra from coming onsite. Yet, they had the ultimate visibility on the huge jumbotron just outside the Legends restaurant. Her music video focused on her wild mustang Cobra and his journey from Wild to World Champion.

This was also the story of Sandra Beaulieu, whose horse Rovandio missed putting his hoofprints on the site but Beaulieu, who came all the way from Maine, was here costumed and out there meeting the masses. Those crowds may have missed watching Beaulieu’s Art on Horseback, where while riding Royal Rovandio, a 17-year-old Andalusian/Lipizzan cross gelding, bitless, she paints a picture. One of those past works of art was there for all to see. While those attending may not have been able to see her in action, they did get the chance to watch her creating her work of art on the jumbotron.

Other jumbotron trailers included the soon to be released kid’s book written by Suzanne Kopp-Moskow about Li’l Herc, the horse who helped “Marie” heal from a difficult time in her life due to a lifelong illness. The Right Horse was up there as well. This national organization’s goal is to massively increase horse adoption in the United States.

Yvonne Barteau

Briana Bartlett talks about Para Reining

More Filmmakers and Talent Support Their Films

Briana Bartlett, a para reining rider who was partially paralyzed at a young age from a car accident, was onsite to represent All Four Legs, a film about World Para Reining, a global nonprofit organization focused on the development of reining programs designed for riders with physical disabilities, founded by Lisa Coulter.

There were others who weathered the storm, including Sarah Crowe and Laura Hermanson for Dyna Does Dressage, a documentary about Dyna, the first mule ever to compete at the national level in the competitive equestrian sport of dressage.

While most of those already mentioned are on their way home. New arrivals include Bruce Anderson and Julianne Neal for their movie, The Edge, a film that highlights how horses can help people better support the environment. The film showcases Anderson’s belief that man's capacity to reduce the wild is the cause and effect of mental imbalance.

Dyna Does Dressage

Bruce Anderson talks about Humanship

Meet Mario Contreras and Lindsey Partridge

Lindsay Partridge and Mario Contreras are new arrivals as well and will be around all this week. Canada's Horse Whisperer, Partridge is a horse trainer who is here supporting the film Unbridled, which included her horse Dreamer, a horse she trained. Unbridled is a fiction movie based on a real ranch in North Carolina that pairs mistreated horses with abused girls. Together they learn how to trust again.

Contreras is the lead trainer at Medieval Times and he’ll be wandering around the grounds entertaining crowds with his medieval costumes and showmanship skills. He will be there supporting his film, We Are Medieval Times. Contreras uses his background in classical dressage to not only train his horses, but also his riders. His stylized training methods focus on the horse's acceptance and willingness to work with him and create a bond of understanding and communication.

Lindsey Partridge talks about the movie Unbridled

Mario Contreras talks about being the Lead Trainer at Medieval Times

The Show Must Go On

In between interviewing filmmakers and talent, Diersen and De Rosa have had a chance to witness some of the greatest horsemen in the world showcase their incredible horses. For the United States, a silver medal victory for both the team and rider Laura Graves were two very special moments. Reining team victories gave the US riders a gold medal, while the outcome of eventing will be determined after the finals on Monday, September 17.

With one more week to showcase films, Diersen and De Rosa are excited to bring an incredible list of films to the thousands of people who will venture into the EQUUS Theater. These are films many of these people would never have had a chance to see. And it was because of this WEG organization who supported the idea of bringing horse films and thanks to presenting sponsor Mustang Leadership Partners, whose film, When the Dust Settles, will be showcased this week.

While the storm prevented girls from the Mustang Leadership Partners, an after-school program for girls of Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, from journeying to WEG, Sydnie Irwin took on the challenge and shared the purpose of this program that pairs underserved girls with Wild Mustangs. Mustang Leadership Partners was founded in 2009 by Sue Anne Wells to provide young women in the inner city of Chattanooga, TN, and students from the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, a chance to flourish and grow in more ways than one. When the Dust Settles shows the parallel struggles and triumphs of mustangs and disadvantaged girls.

It’s been an amazing first week and now being able to put Hurricane Florence behind us, week two is going to be even better. So, take the journey with the EQUUS Film Festival. Check out the EFF social media postings on Facebook and Twitter and visit for more information. For the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 go to

When the Dust Settles


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