Horse News

Ginger Kathrens: Keepin the West Wild

Story by Erin Udell of the Rocky Mountain Collegian

Profile of Filmmaker’s 16 year Journey with “Cloud

Ginger Kathrens ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

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.”

16 replies »

  1. Yes how I wish this could be happening in my lifetime and my grandkids to see.
    How I wish those who have caused so much havoc would ever experience the true meaning of the mustangs – and their importance to all of us. Seems we face how the West is Lost and we must keep on fighting for the horses.

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  2. I could sit for hours too. I wish we still had wild horses in my area but alas they are all gone from the San Diego area.

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    • Yes, horses and burros gone from so many wild places. And so many wild places gone as well. The ruination of our wild ones AND our public lands – “Going, going … GONE!”

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  3. Go Ginger! Thank you for bringing Cloud and the wild horses into my world – into the world at large.

    One thing the author missed – Ginger Kathrens was already an Emmy winning international wild animial film maker before she ever even thought of wild horses – it was Marty Stouffer that asked her to do a documentary about wild horses – and the rest is history.

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  4. I wish I lived closer to the Pryors so I could go there on weekends–providing I can navigate the mpintain in winter! Then I could sit and be. Take in the horses and watch how familiew are suppose to be.

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  5. Ginger, your documenting films of Cloud from a foal at your first sighting, and through the years to date, are treasured by all who have seen them! Through your eyes, watching him grow into a proud and beautiful stallion with mares and babies of his own, is preciously delightful. To see the family bands and bonds, and bachelors sparring, foals in Spring, all in the beautiful mountain setting, with Cloud, always as the star of your movies, has been such a treat for everyone, adults and children alike.

    You have made “Cloud” an iconic legend! We watched through the horrors of the roundup and the relief of his release back, but with only part of his family, was sorrowful. His continued freedom, along with his current family, is mandatory, especially in light of your educating and spirit enriching work that has made him a wild horse star!
    Like you, the American people and those abroad, wish to continue to follow the free & wild, “Cloud the Stallion.” Ginger, thank you for your important and dedicated work of heart, the stunning documenting, of a beautiful mustang’s life. We love it.

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  6. It was a great evening, and Ginger gave a compelling presentation on wild horse evolution, behavior, and present-day existence–all interspersed with film clips of Cloud and the Pryor Mtn. Herd! There were 2 beautiful, live mustangs there for folks to meet, and an artist brought his larger than life-sized metal mustang sculptures on a flat-bed truck for folks to see as they arrived. It was a packed lecture hall with all ages: kids to senior citizens– college students, horse trainers, interested public, and horse owners. The Q&A at the end was filled with many questions about the BLM and how people can get involved.

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    • There is a very long list of things we would NOT have at this momment were it not for Ginger and her pull to the wild horses..By now, there would be no cloud but some pale gelding in a LTH facility no doubt, a sad face in a sea of sad faces, everytime they round up cloud there is a chance that he will be injured or killed in the process and or removed..thats why we all came to take this journey -to stop the roundups and the destruction of americas wild herds, each and every one of them, To restore lands to the horses that have been taken from them, to see that their share of the land they were given in 1971 is equal at the very least- to all others on the land..We will no longer tolerate the misinformation and propaganda being deciminated about americas wild horses and anyone associated with the program who makes those statements from Salazar to Abbey on down the line should be fired or step down-it should be mandatory.And those who have publically and privately suggested that all the wild horses that are removed be killed, be ineligiable to work in this program

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  7. Ginger: I envey you. I would have loved to see Raven, as black, grey, white, and palomino (and variations thereof) are my favorites. I would love to go with you into the Preyor Mts and watch this gorgeous stallion with his family. I’m sure his father has sense parished, but his legacy lives on in Cloud. Cat Kindsfarther above said it well. May we win this fight for all the wild horses so they can be returned to their ranges. And may we see the BLM fragmented and disbanded, as well as the Depts of Agriculture and Mining, where new blood with caring the main object. THere is no caring in the BLM now and they deserve all they get in the future. They will get their just rewards. I’m sure GOd will see to it.

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  8. Ginger: I envey you. I would have loved to see Raven, as black, grey, white, and palomino (and variations thereof) are my favorites. I would love to go with you into the Preyor Mts and watch this gorgeous stallion with his family. I’m sure his father has sense perished, but his legacy lives on in Cloud. Cat Kindsfarther above said it well. May we win this fight for all the wild horses so they can be returned to their ranges. And may we see the BLM fragmented and disbanded, as well as the Depts of Agriculture and Mining, where new blood with caring the main object. THere is no caring in the BLM now and they deserve all they get in the future. They will get their just rewards. I’m sure GOd will see to it.

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  9. Ginger: THank you and RT for all you’re doing for our wild horses. I envey you. I would have loved to see Raven, as black, grey, white, and palomino (and variations thereof) are my favorites. I would love to go with you into the Preyor Mts and watch this gorgeous stallion with his family. I’m sure his father has sense perished, but his legacy lives on in Cloud. Cat Kindsfarther above said it well. May we win this fight for all the wild horses so they can be returned to their ranges. And may we see the BLM fragmented and disbanded, as well as the Depts of Agriculture and Mining, where new blood with caring the main object. THere is no caring in the BLM now and they deserve all they get in the future. They will get their just rewards. I’m sure GOd will see to it.

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  10. Ginger, you have dedicated yourself and have worked unselfishly with providing the education and the importance of our American wild horses to the public. This is a very trying time and we all must do everything we can to preserve them for future generations. I sincerely appreciate your total commitment and I will continue to support you in any way I can, until justice prevails for these magnificent creatures. Thank you

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