Horse News

Disney’s ‘Black Beauty’ Director Ashley Avis Working Hard to Save America’s Wild Horses

‘Wild Beauty – Mustang Spirit of the West’ by Director-Screenwriter Ashley Avis, explores the plight of America’s wild horses and possible solutions

Ashley Avis and Naturalist William E. Simpson II on location in the Soda Mountain wilderness area

YREKA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, July 29, 2021 / — “I was outside my cabin in the serenity of the mountains visiting with a few of the local wild horses when a text popped up on my phone saying; ‘Hello William! This is Ashley Avis…’

At first, I did a double-take trying to figure-out which one of my friends might be trying to prank me.

Then, when I received an email from Ashley’s company, Winterstone Pictures, I wondered why the Director of ‘Black Beauty’ was trying to contact me.”, said naturalist William E. Simpson II

Ashley Avis is an American director, screenwriter, and producer of four feature films and over 100 commercials and branded content spots to date.
She recently wrote, directed, and edited the modern-day adaptation of Anna Sewell’s classic BLACK BEAUTY starring Kate Winslet, Mackenzie Foy, and Iain Glen in the fall of 2019 for Constantin Film, which aired on Disney+ on November 27th, 2020.

She is also currently writing and show running a television series based on the iconic Breyer toy brand for Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Stephanie Sperber of Imagine Entertainment.

Ashley’s work has been called “timelessly romantic” (White Lies Magazine), “innocent, blending innocence with seduction” (Red Hot Society), and “elegantly sensual” (Elite Daily).

Naturalist and wild horse expert, William E. Simpson II, detailed the day;

“As I learned later, Ashley and her film crew had been on the road for thousands of miles across several western states filming on a month-long expedition. And they happened to be passing near the Soda Mountain wilderness area and Wild Horse Ranch where I live.

As soon as I met Ashley, I knew her passion for wild horses was honest and pure. I was very pleased to hear that Ashley wanted an on-camera interview about my perspectives regarding how wild horses might be saved?

Having spent the last 7-years living among, and studying free-roaming native species American wild horses, I have developed a personal perspective and a plan that I hope can help to save native species American wild horses.

The plan involves re-wilding and relocating wild horses, and is called; ‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade‘.

Since Ashley, her production team and her documentary effort are currently collecting facts and perspectives from many sources, no particular wild horse management paradigm or opinion is currently being endorsed.

And as I learned, her goal was to have my interview as a part of her new documentary ‘Wild Beauty – Mustang Spirit of the West’.”

We started the morning with an on-location interview in the mountains at Wild Horse Ranch with wild horses nearby, and finished the day filming some of the natural wonders of the Klamath River Canyon”; continued Mr. Simpson

An excerpt from Ms. Avis’s website below discusses the start of her odyssey and critical mission to help save America’s wild horses during what might be described as the darkest hour for native species American wild horses, even as the Bureau of Land Management is engaged in the largest roundup of wild horses in recent history:

“Last year (2019), we began filming a new project in the wilds of Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming… driving out to some faraway places searching for wild horses. This documentary initially began as a much simpler envisioned trip to capture real, authentic footage of wild horses that we could infuse into our narrative feature Black Beauty, to root Beauty in the American West given we were filming most of the movie in South Africa (which doubles extremely well for much of the United States).

There has been such extraordinary serendipity with these projects, and instead of just capturing a few days of b-roll, we ended up having the opportunity to film two weeks of spectacular footage – both the ghostly beauty of these wild ones free with their families at sunrise and sunset, as well as witnessing the tragedy of several cruel helicopter roundups. Concurrently, as I became more versed about the issues wild horses are facing in our country, I realized we could craft something much bigger, a documentary that could be released after Black Beauty for those who wish to learn more about the cause.”

7 replies »

  1. This is good news but even though I like the word I have stopped using the label “mustang” since it is in fact a contraction of the Spanish word for “stray” horse. Its use continues the mistaken notion all horses here are of Spanish origin and are valueless stray formerly domestic animals.

    So here’s plea to Ashley NOT to call them mustangs in her work in hopes many more people will see their plight, and value them as the native wild creatures they are, here in their homelands.

    (note for naysayers: some Spanish horses (and others) were reintroduced here, of course, long ago, but their numbers don’t account for all the wild ones across this continent even in those times per the fossil and DNA records we already have. Our laws also are clear that any horse or burro born wild, is wild — NOT feral).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wild horses, Mustangs they all deserve to be saved! They are native to America we know this and screw people who say/believe different. I don’t care. They are suppose to be federally protected by law & they’re not doing it & yes I know about the stupid amendment, but they are still fed. protected & someone? needs to make them do it!


  2. Thank you Ashley. We need all the help we can get to save wild horses and don’t forget the peaceful and intelligent wild burro, whom get down on their knees and dig for water out there.
    Much appreciate your valuable work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ashley,
    Fabulous job. I would so like to see some strong, good media coverage about the Wild Horses on top news channels. Why is that so hard to get?


    • Hi Ashley, I live in Johannesburg South Africa and I have been following America’s Iconic Wild Horses for a year now, but what is happening to them at the moment is just so heartbreaking and I can’t understand why they are hated because for me they are the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. There has been such a public outcry and outrage but the roundups continue with impunity. What has to happen to stop them, because nothing seems to work. Those helicopter pilots fly recklessly and dangerously hurting the horses and Burros, I don’t understand why they haven’t been grounded by Law enforcement. Thank you so much for your continued hard work. Where about in South Africa are you filming?


  4. Hi Ashley, Thank you for speaking out and making a documentary to help educate the people about our majestic wild mustang’s. I thought if Disney made a movie about how our wild mustang’s live in the wild, have families and how all of that is torn apart from inhumane horrific roundups that separate them, injure them and kill them. Then send them to slaughter from the BLM’S adoption incentive program, AIP. I support AWHC and Skydog Sanctuary. Clare Staples owner of skydog and AWHC are taking the bureau of land management to court on their failed program. The New York Times had a front cover story about the BLM’s failed program. There have been success stories with humane fertility practices darting horse’s with pzp instead of roundups that kill their spirit and for some end their lifes forever. I believe if a movie that tells the truth about how, why our wild ones are not protected by the law passed to protect them in1971. That cattle and sheep grazing is the real reason for removing them which breaks the law passed for them, not including how much our tax dollars are going to fund the BLM for roundups, kill pens and for the ones jailed a sad reality to end their freedom and families forever. Just an idea I had to help spread the truth to more people. I hadn’t known the truth until I read an article in a local newspaper a few years ago. If not for that I would not have the knowledge I have today that exposed the BLM’s horrific roundups that cost tax payers billions a year. I believe a movie would expose the truth to more people and strengthen the cause for wild mustang’s and burros. Also the marrs plan implemented would solve the issue and allow our wild ones to remain free. A great title for the movie..

    Freedom, Families Forever FREE or A Voice for the Voiceless.


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