ERIN – It was a horse pull competitors at a fall truthful that impressed unbiased filmmaker Cliff Caines to embark on a three-year journey to create the award-winning documentary Workhorse.
A screening of that movie, a portion of which was filmed in Erin, will likely be a fundraiser in assist of the Erin Agricultural Society’s Horse Heritage Committee.
“I noticed my first horse pull on the Kinmount Fall Truthful in 2014, which entails a sequence of opponents with groups of horses, simply large draft horses, like Percherons and Belgians horses, which I’d all the time cherished from a distance,” Caines defined.
“However simply the facility of those horses on spectacle and inside the sporting competitors I’d by no means heard of, it was in that prompt once I noticed the horses connect with the sled of 10,000 kilos and pull that lifeless weight, it simply introduced the complete historical past of human civilization and horses working collectively collaboratively, and the entire issues with that … I needed to make a movie about it.”
Launched in 2020, the documentary was three-years within the making. It follows three individuals whose work and lives have been deeply related to their equine companions.
That preliminary expertise on the Kinmount Truthful is the place Caines first met Mike, Kelly and Cody Wessel, of Minden, the winners of the horse pulling competitors.
“They have been the primary those that I met that have been inside the world of horse pulling, they usually don’t essentially use horses for farming per se, however they definitely do it as a approach to pay homage to the follow of farming with horses,” Caines mentioned.
“It opened up the doorway to the Laings, who’ve an natural farm in St. Thomas, that’s powered by Suffolk Punch horses, a draft horse that was significantly bred for farming, versus a Belgian and Percheron horses, which was all a studying curve for me,” Caines mentioned.
“By way of the Laings I used to be launched to Artwork Shannon, who ran one of many first, if not final, business horse logging corporations in southern Ontario.”
Caine mentioned assembly and filming these three characters within the totally different contexts of their work with horses was an essential historical past lesson in how people have relied on their equine companions.
“Now we have to log, after which we farm, after which as horses declined in use, in favour of machines, horses comparatively disappeared from follow,” Caine mentioned.
“And I used to be very inquisitive about discovering out extra about why would somebody like Artwork Shannon, or Ken Laing, or the Wessels do that right this moment, when it’s a definitely disappearing, if not disappeared follow.”
He continued, “And that turned the premise of the movie, to point out that and be actually immersive with these characters. So, it’s a really observational to observe their follow with horses … you don’t totally perceive it till you’re there, nevertheless it’s this relationship between people and horses … I couldn’t totally perceive it till I used to be there.”
Artwork Shannon, from Gray County, is a fifth-generation horse logger. He remembers horse logging within the bush along with his father from concerning the age of 10.
That led to a profession of greater than 40 years in forestry administration, the final 18 of which he was a full-time horse logger. It was a profession resolution Shannon made on precept, but additionally his real love of working with horses.
“Mainly it was a scenario the place I didn’t suppose the big pulp and paper corporations have been training sustainable forestry, and so I got here up with a system utilizing horses as a main mover from stump to path the place I may have as little impression as attainable on the residual forest,” Shannon defined.
His ardour for sustainable agriculture is what inspired Shannon to take Caine up on his request to seem within the movie.
“I noticed this movie as one other alternative to achieve out and specific my opinion on the significance of training sustainable forestry and I used to be in a position to do this,” Shannon mentioned.
He added, “I usually overlook the guts a part of the equation … additionally it is the actual fact that Dad gave me a pony once I was seven years outdated and I had been round horses all my life … I simply suppose they’re a beautiful animal, a beautiful being.”
On the time of filming, Shannon and his spouse, Kym Snarr, had offered their farm to retire.
Filming of his part of the documentary happened over 4 days, three of which have been shot at a horse farm property within the city of Erin owned by Shannon’s pal, Religion Kent.
The surroundings proved a great place for Caine to seize Shannon and his equine crew of their pure ingredient.
“I used to be very within the relationship between a teamster and the horse. It’s a disappearing talent and a lifestyle,” Caine mentioned.
“That they held all of this data and simply watching them, their fingers, , on a flick, only a contact on the rein, and also you felt 30 plus years of expertise with these animals and the connection that they’ve constructed.”
Shannon understands how very important that relationship is.
“For those who work with a horse eight hours a day, 40 hours every week for 15 to 16 years, that’s an actual particular relationship with an animal,” he mentioned.
“Only a few individuals you’re employed with that lengthy and that shut, , however these horses, I labored very carefully with, they usually’d have dangerous days, I’d have dangerous days and we labored by them.
“I received one thing from horses on daily basis. The horses have been very a lot part of my being.”
Caine notes he noticed how the horses, in every situation, had distinctive character traits. It’s one thing Shannon mentioned made working with horses so pleasant.
“The factor that’s fascinating about horses is that they’re all people,” Shannon mentioned. “I’ve perhaps had 20 to 24 horses, someplace in that vary in my life. And no two horses have the identical character.”
Workhorse is described as a lyrical documentary. Caine describes it as a course of movie, with much less dialogue so the photographs and sound current the story, supported with testimony of the lads about their working relationship with their equine companions.
“I’d say it’s a poetic strategy. It tries to reply to what it was like working with the horses, so it’s a really slowed down tempo, very observational,” Caine mentioned.
“It was a privilege to have the ability to be with individuals and studying about their life … It’s not simply one thing you select to do. It’s the best way you select to dwell.”
Caine admits it was a problem to translate the dimensions of the draft horses, however the selection to provide the movie in black and white was efficient.
“It was truly a approach to underline that presence. It allowed us to be very sensorial within the black and white. It allowed us to see the feel of the horsehair. You may even really feel the feel of the leather-based reins,” Caine defined.
“It was about seeing the feel of the fingers which were working collectively for 40 plus years.”
He provides, “It’s meant to be seen on the massive display screen, simply due to the dimensions of the horses.”
The general public may have the chance to take action because the Erin Agricultural Society hosts a screening of the movie on March 29 on the Centre 2000 Theatre at 7pm.
Erin councillor Bridget Ryan, one of many organizers of the movie screening and the RCMP Musical Trip, says the fundraiser will assist the society’s Horse Heritage Committee.
“This committee host the Horse Heritage Corridor of Fame Awards annually, bringing particular consideration of recognition to an individual, or a corporation inside our area who has made a major contribution to our equine heritage,” Ryan mentioned.
Caine appears to be like ahead to reconnecting along with his topics.
“I believe having the movie take part as a fundraiser for the Erin Agricultural Society, it’s going to be the primary time all of our characters have seen the movie collectively,” Caine mentioned. “So, it’s going to be a little bit of a reunion.”
The night may also embody a video that includes drone footage of the RCMP Musical Trip held on the Erin Fairgrounds final August.
Shannon hopes individuals will come away from the movie with an appreciation for draft horses in right this moment’s world.
“After all, firstly is for individuals to know that a few of us which have labored with horses, that we love our horses,” Shannon mentioned.
“And we use horses which can be prepared to do what they do. They they’re not being compelled into doing one thing that they don’t need to do. They’re born and bred to work. They’re workhorses.”
Since its launch Workhorse has obtained essential acclaim and received “Finest Cinematography in a Function Size Documentary” on the Canadian Display screen Awards in 2021.
It has additionally been screened at worldwide movie festivals together with Germany’s DOK.fest, and Shut:Up Edinburgh Docufest.
Tickets for the March 29 exhibiting of Workhorse at Centre 2000 can be found at Budson Farm and Feed, at 93 Principal Road in Erin.
Tickets are $10, together with a drink and popcorn. Doorways open at 6pm. The present begins at 7pm. For group tickets or different inquiries, textual content or name 519-216-4562.