Saving America’s Horses: A Nation Betrayed


The images of animal suffering and mistreatment presented throughout Saving America’s Horses: A Nation Betrayed inspire sadness and angered concern, but their power is undermined by a story told in hapless circles and at the expense of a well-defined end. A long scroll of information tracing national policy with regard to horse slaughter opens director Katia Louise’s well-intentioned but overwrought argument against the unregulated slaughter of former racehorses, America’s dwindling wild-horse population, and all those equines in between but still subject to owners’ whims. Packed with information—indeed, the screen is often overlaid with at least three elements, including scraps of text, a talking head, and an illustrative image—as well as awkward style cues, at its worst, Saving America’s Horses plays like a YouTube propaganda piece. Which is a shame, as footage of horses being illegally transported across borders, starved to death to protect cattle-grazing land, and inhumanely slaughtered makes a strong case that something has gone wrong. Louise has plenty of theories about why and how that’s so, but little sense of how to draw them together effectively. The sublime beauty of her subject cannot fail to move; less steady is this presentation of their plight.