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International Film Festival Brings Awareness to Horse Abuse and Neglect

Last updated October 14, 2023 by Brad Heath

Equus International Film Festival

Double D Trailers LogoIn the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana, there is a horse rescue organization working hard to end neglect and abuse of equines everywhere.  However, the Horse Haven Montana rescue, led by Janet Rose, has gone one step farther than the typical rescue.  They are spearheading an international film festival focused on bringing awareness to this important issue.  Join us as we speak with Janet about the challenges and rewards of organizing this landmark event.  Also learn 5 things that YOU can do to help combat the abuse and neglect of horses.


An Emmy Award-Winning Journalist Turned Horse Advocate

Janet Rose did investigative and news broadcast journalism so that she could try to make a difference in the world.  “It was very important to me to try to “give back,” make the world a better place, do what I could to “change the world.”  For her, this was the ideal way to tell a story, educate the public, and empower people to make a change.  After twenty years of work, this Emmy award-winner decided to leave television and focus her efforts on wildlife conservation in Montana.


Janet Rose is a former TV journalist who now heads the Horse Haven Montana Horse rescue and the Equus International Film Festival.

“I always loved animals and loved horses but I was no equine expert,” she explained.  This all changed when a neighbor asked her to help rehome an abandoned horse.  “We found him a great home, and then another, and another and pretty soon the project and effort grew.” 

Today, Janet is the head of Horse Haven Montana, a horse rescue that has helped hundreds of horses.  “There is a crisis in the equine world of thousands upon thousands of horses in need and we are probably like a drop in the bucket.”  Still, this work wasn’t enough.  Janet wanted to expand her outreach and tell more people about this important issue.  Using her skills as a journalist, and the help of a fleet of volunteers, she has spearheaded a fabulous program known as the EQUUS International Film Festival®️ and Conference.


A Film Festival Devoted Entirely to Horses!

Since the first event in 2011, attention for the crisis of abandoned, neglected, and abused horses has grown and more films are being made on the topic.  The 2015 EQUUS International Film Festival and Conference promises to be an exciting three days of film screenings with additional receptions, presentations, and speakers all with an equine focus.


This film festival is for filmmakers and general horse enthusiasts to learn about important horse issues.  Here is Suzanne Philippus, the festival’s Project/Outreach Coordinator.

The event is scheduled for September 18-20, 2015 in Missoula, Montana in the heart of the northern Rockies.  Film screenings will be held in a beautiful theater on the campus of The University of Montana in downtown Missoula.  The city itself is very historic and charming and is, according to Janet, ‘a great horse town!’ 

This festival serves as the education and outreach project of Horse Haven Montana.  Janet explained, “We will put the resources back into our rescue efforts and into our efforts to develop the film festival as a viable educational project, expand our educational outreach, expand promotion of information, and enhance what we do.”  They have benefited from some wonderful donations and sponsorships so far, but are always looking for more.

‘Why Should I Go To The Festival?’

Montana is the perfect destination for any horse lover.  During your stay, you would enjoy that gorgeous local landscape filled with ranches, eat at some of the delicious restaurants in town, and explore the local museums.  The world-renowned hiking trail known as ‘The M’ is just off campus!  Best of all, you can attend the EQUUS International Film Festival and Conference where you will be exposed to powerful horse films educating you on a variety of topics.  One of the most highly anticipated sessions is The Role of the Horse in Native American Life, Culture and History held in The University of Montana’s Payne Family Center for Native American Studies

Landscape Montana

The rolling hills of western Montana are an ideal setting to learn about important horse issues at the Equus International Film Festival.

“We’re expecting some fantastic speakers and films on the history and culture of the horse globally, on the wild horse issue, and on the slaughter issue.”  Janet explained, “Also on racing, eventing, equine athletes, equine communications, training videos, and music videos.”  This is a festival for not just filmmakers, but also anyone who has an interest in equine issues and stories!

Check out more information on how to enter a film or purchase event tickets below.

A Horse Rescue That Can Take Retired Border Patrol Animals

The proceeds from the EQUUS International Film Festival will benefit future efforts to expand the event as well as help horses in need at the Horse Haven Montana near Frenchtown, Montana. The rescue program is run entirely by volunteers and relies on donated resources.  Janet shared, “Our goal is to identify if or when a horse is in need and match that horse or other equine with an adoptive family or individual ensuring that it is the right match and the right fit for that animal.”


The Horse Haven Montana rescue works to rescue and re-home abused, neglected horses as well as those who for whatever reason can no longer be kept with their current owners. They also work to help re-home retired forest service and border patrol horses.

The rescue has a unique relationship with local ranches and some government agencies like the United States Forest Service and the federal Border Patrol.  Janet shared, “The federal government will allow them to donate a retiring or no longer needed or useable animal to a legally registered 501c3 not-for-profit corporation, which we are…it’s been a wonderful kind of partnership,” Janet exclaimed.  “It’s a win/win for everyone.  The agency is able to place an animal they have great respect for who has worked hard for them; we are able to place a usually well-trained animal in a great new home and the adopter has what I like to call a diamond of a horse.” 

Like many rescue programs across the country, Horse Haven Montana is filled with people with big hearts and limited resources.  They do this work out of love but would always be grateful for donations that could help them expand their program and help more equines in need.

One of the items that every horse rescue needs is a safe and well-built horse trailer.  Janet and the staff at Horse Haven Montana rely on a slant load 2 horse bumper pull trailer to transport their horses.  “We like slant load trailers for the safety of the horse and the ease of separation between animals,” she explained.  “A 2 horse slant load with tack quarters is our dream trailer right now.”  She explained that added sleeping quarters would allow them to travel further and stay with the horses they are picking up in a rescue or re-homing situation.


On Horse Abuse and Neglect:  What Can YOU Do?

Janet feels very strongly that a change needs to come in the horse world and she is hopeful that her work with the EQUUS International Film Festival and Horse Haven Montana will help.  “It’s important for people to know that thousands upon thousands of horses that are no longer wanted, needed, used, etc., are often being either dumped, literally on roads, on ranches, anywhere, as well as being taken to livestock auctions and sold to the canners who then ship them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.”  She continued, “Our focus, our goal, our mission is  ‘education and understanding to enhance the equine/human bond and to improve the welfare of the horse.’ ” 

Here are 5 steps you can take to help abused or neglected horses.

  1. Be responsible with your own choices.  If you are a new horse owner, make sure you educate yourself on what type of horse you can safely handle so that you can be committed to caring for that animal the way that it deserves and you will enjoy it so much more.
  1. If you are an experienced horseman or horsewoman, share your knowledge with those around you through a community horse club, seminars, or general advice to others.  Don’t keep all your expertise to yourself!
  1. If you see abuse, report it!  The Humane Society and the ASPCA both have equine programs and there are a number of horse rescue organizations across the country.
  1. Let government agencies know that horses they no longer need or use, can be donated to not-for-profit equine agencies so these hard-working horses can have loving homes after they’ve served.
  1. If you can provide a home for a horse in need, explore the option.  It’s a great way to help a horse that needs a second chance.

Janet is extremely passionate about her work with horses.  She explained, “The horse is an animal that reaches people, it touches people in ways we do not even understand.”  She is very proud of her work.  “I’m just so grateful that I have found something in life that means something to me and I can work to support, help, save, and hopefully share that with others.”

To learn more about the EQUUS International Film Festival and Conference, check out their website or email Janet at jrt@montana.com.  Potential applicants for film screenings can download Entry forms and learn more about how to be a part of this wonderful event.  General attendees can learn travel specifics and how to purchase tickets. 


Be sure to check out their website to learn how to enter the film festival or purchase tickets!

Also, be sure to check out the festival’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Horse Haven Montana and EQUUS International Film Festival always welcome any donations or sponsorships, which are tax deductible.  Consider attending the festival this September to spend a few days packed with exciting films, educational events, and the beautiful scenery of Missoula, Montana.


**What is your favorite horse related film?  Why did this film have such an impact on viewers?

**Do you have any addition resources to share regarding horse abuse and neglect nationwide?


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