The Horse Boy

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Release Date: September 11, 2009 (limited)

1h 33m | Documentary

Rupert Isaacson, a human rights worker, author and former professional horse trainer, and Kristin Neff, a psychology professor, sought out the best medical care when their son Rowan, was diagnosed autism. However, orthodox therapies had little effect on Rowan.

One day Rowan ran away from his father, got through the fence of their neighbour's horse pasture, and in amongst the hooves of the horse herd. Rupert had stopped riding since Rowan's autism had kicked in, thinking it unsafe for his son to be around horses. Now he froze, heart in mouth, praying Rowan would not get trampled. Instead, the herd's boss horse, a notoriously grumpy old mare named Betsy, pushed the other horses away, bent her head to Rowan, and began to lick and chew with her lips: the equine sign of submission. Rupert had never seen a horse voluntarily make this obeisance to a human being before. Something direct, something beautiful, was clearly passing between boy and horse.

So Isaacson began to ride with Rowan on Betsy every day, and Rowan—amazingly—began to talk, to engage with the outside world. He asked himself, was there a place on the planet that combined horses and healing? He did some research: the country where the horse was first domesticated, where the nomadic horse life is still lived by most of its people, is also the one country where shamanism-healing at its most raw and direct—is the state religion. Mongolia. What if he was to take Rowan there, thought Rupert, riding on horseback from shaman to shaman? What would happen?

Director: Michel Orion Scott
Studio: Zeitgeist Films
Producer(s): Rupert Isaacson
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