Moondance Alexander Review

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Moondance Alexander is great for young riders

Horse lovers are so desperate for films that accurately portray their lifestyle that they anxiously await the release of every horse flick. Often they are disappointed, as will probably be the case with Moondance Alexander, a film that enjoyed a meager release in theatres and has recently become widely available on DVD. The storyline had promise: A gawky adolescent girl gains a sense of self-worth through the merits of barn chores and horsemanship. But about the time that a colicky horse is left sprawled out on the barn floor to fend for itself through the night, the movie’s potential fades like the dapples on an aging gray horse.
  
For those unfamiliar with the film, Moondance Alexander is not the name of some high falutin’ show pony. Instead it’s the name of the film’s protagonist, an undersized, fashionably challenged 9th grade girl who suffers the wrath of all the condescending cool kids. One day, while riding her bicycle to deliver some packages for a local store owner, Moondance (Kay Panabaker) crosses paths with a wayward pinto gelding she names Checkers. Will Moondance immediately bond with Checkers? Will she miraculously learn to pilot Checkers around a course of jumps in a just a few lessons? At the prestigious hunter classic, can she ride Checkers, the scruffy Pinto, to victory over the rich kids who are mounted on fancy Thoroughbreds and warmbloods? You already know the answer, don’t you?
 
The film gallops to its fairy tale ending faster than a race horse on barley-corn. Viewers never get to learn the entire back story behind Dante, Checker’s surly trainer, a role undertaken by a perpetually grouchy Don Johnson. Nor is there any character development of Fiona, played by ice skating’s Olympic silver medalist, Sasha Cohen. Fiona is the extra mean girl at Moondance’s school, who also happens to be the reigning hunter classic champion. And by the way, do we need any more stereotypical portrayals of hunt seat riders as wealthy and uppity?
 
Despite its faults—check your knowledge of horse care, horsemanship and horse show protocol at the barn door—Moondance Alexander is a warm-hearted horse flick suitable for family viewing. There’s an admirable message that perseverance in the face of adversity builds character. Plus, the natural beauty of Alberta, Canada serves as the colorful backdrop to the action. Although adult horse folks might find the film on the level of an after-school special, Moondance Alexander is the perfect popcorn flick for a sleepover populated by pony kids.

 

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Cindy Hale
Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.

8 COMMENTS

  1. How funny, I just rented this movie! I can’t believe how many things in the movie were not realistic about horses and horse shows. But the main story was okay, but then I like any movie these days about horses.

  2. i got so mad on all the things that werent true about horses,wat couldn’t happen,and wouldnt do i had to stop it!ugh.it made me mad.i think they need more horse movies.like the movie Flicka that is the best horse movie ever,right next to Dreamer.

  3. Thanks for the warning – this really sounds like an unusually complete accumulation of stereotypes that we’ve worked for decades to get rid of…
    When – oh when! – will there finally be a realistic horse movie? All horse lovers know that barn life is really more than dramatic enough for Hollywood!

  4. i thought that the lesson in the this movie i thought that moondance never gave up to that mean witch fiona. And as for dante he drinks to forget his past but drinking isn’t the answer to life to forget your past i lost soeone and it did hurt but i am just like moondance alexander. because she taught me to never give up on my dreams and that there may be a time of need for someone who has passed away or is griving over someone and that challenges can land you in dispair but perserverance can land you in the winners circle. I thought that movie was exellant and kids my age can relate to.

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