Horse tale helps your fam­ily shovel away win­ter blues

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS & LIFE - BRAD OSWALD

GIVEN re­cent weather pat­terns here­abouts, and the repet­i­tive out­door-chore obli­ga­tions they’ve in­evitably cre­ated for lo­cal folks, it might seem a bit risky — fool­ish, even — to rec­om­mend a TV movie that’s ba­si­cally about shov­el­ling snow.

But in the spirit of the spirit of the sea­son, here goes:

The Horses of McBride is a lovely, well-crafted and beau­ti­fully per­formed yarn that’s per­fect for fam­ily view­ing dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

It has beau­ti­ful scenery. Small-town charm. Horses. Heroic hu­mans. Pluck. Verve. Grit. A pure, sim­ple ex­pres­sion of the un­selfish­ness and gen­eros­ity to which we all as­pire dur­ing the hol­i­days. Oh, and snow. Lots and lots of deep, drifted snow. But the beauty of this movie, even if you’re sick to death

Star­ring Ai­dan Quinn, MacKen­zie Porter and Kari Match­ett

Sun­day at 7 p.m.

out of five of clear­ing your own side­walk, is that you get to watch some­body else shovel it.

The Horses of McBride, which airs Sun­day at 7 p.m. on CTV, is a tale of per­se­ver­ance in­spired by ac­tual events that oc­curred near the north­ern Bri­tish Columbia town of McBride just be­fore Christ­mas 2008. Af­ter lo­cal snow­mo­bil­ers dis­cov­ered a pair of horses trapped in deep snow high up on the moun­tain­side, starved and nearly frozen, towns­folk mounted a mas­sive ef­fort to hand-dig a trench to al­low the an­i­mals to be led down to safety.

In this charm­ing drama­ti­za­tion of events, the horses are dis­cov­ered by fa­ther and son Matt and Kenny David­son (Ai­dan Quinn, Ed­ward Rut­tle) dur­ing a trip up the moun­tain to res­cue some stranded snow­mo­bil­ers.

Their first in­cli­na­tion is to put the an­i­mals out of their mis­ery, but af­ter daugh­ter Nicki (MacKen­zie Porter) vis­its the site of their snowy prison, she’s able to con­vince her fa­ther to try to fig­ure out a way to save them. A vet­eri­nar­ian as­sesses their condi- tion and de­clares them too weak to be air­lifted out; again, putting them down is dis­cussed, but defiant Nicki says she in­tends to dig a path — which would have to be nearly three kilo­me­tres long — to al­low the horses to make their way to a nearby log­ging road.

Matt, per­haps bur­dened by the guilt of hav­ing just told his kids that hard fi­nan­cial times are about to force him to sell the fam­ily’s cow­boy-out­fit­ting busi­ness and take a job in nearby Prince Ge­orge, grabs a shovel and helps Nicki be­gin her un­likely ef­fort.

Thanks to a visit from an as­pir­ing TV pro­ducer (Greyston Holt) who also hap­pens to be Nicki’s re­con­nec­tion­minded ex-boyfriend, word of the fa­ther/daugh­ter res­cue ef­fort starts to spread — first lo­cally, prompt­ing a wave of shovel-wield­ing helpers to head up the moun­tain, and then na­tion­ally, as big­ger me­dia out­lets spread the word and sup­port, both fi­nan­cial and in pure man­power terms, floods in.

The Horses of McBride is a nec­es­sar­ily sen­ti­men­tal story but it never be­comes over­wrought or cloy­ing; it takes full ad­van­tage of beau­ti­ful moun­tain­scapes and re­ceives well-mea­sured and seam­lessly lik­able per­for­mances and from Quinn, Porter and Match­ett.

As for the in­ces­sant snow shov­el­ing — well, it turns out that it’s hardly as an­noy­ing when ex­pe­ri­enced as a spec­ta­tor sport.


MacKen­zie Porter as Nicki in The Horses of McBride.

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